“I’ve never seen anything like it. He has to be the best winger the league has ever seen and the best player in the world at the moment. No one is doing it like him.”
Pep Guardiola declared Mohamed Salah as the world’s finest footballer after watching the Egyptian score a stunning solo goal against his Manchester City side on Sunday, stating his belief that the Liverpool winger is the greatest wide player the Premier League has ever seen.
The plaudits showered on Salah continued from the pundits with Jamie Carragher backing Guardiola’s assessment on the 29-year-old’s current form, hailing him as the planet’s best at present and urging Liverpool to secure his long-term future.
Salah’s rise has been a remarkable once since arriving on Merseyside just over four years ago, arriving with a point to prove after an underwhelming spell at Chelsea before setting unprecedented standards at Anfield.
The records have tumbled and the numbers grown ever more impressive for Salah, but where does he truly rank amongst the Premier League’s all-time greats?
There has been no missing Salah in recent seasons, his name cropping up upon almost any goalscoring statistic, with the line ‘only Mohamed Salah’ having now become a running theme as the Egyptian has become a benchmark to aspire towards.
The numbers are truly staggering.
Salah’s debut season with Liverpool proved one of the most iconic individual campaigns the league has seen, scoring 32 goals in 2017/18 to eclipse Alan Shearer (1995/96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007/08), and Luis Suarez (2013/14) for the most goals ever scored in a 38-game Premier League season.
Just one of those goals came from the penalty spot, whilst he set new milestones for most teams scored against in a single campaign (24) and became the first player in history to outscore three entire sides in West Brom (31), Swansea City (28) and Huddersfield Town (28).
Salah finished that season with 44 goals in all competitions – a Premier League record he shares with Ruud van Nistelrooy – and was coronated as the division’s finest with a Golden Boot and Player of the Year double.
That his haul came from a position out wide was, even in the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi era, absurd, but remove those two all-time icons from the conversation and it is almost unprecedented.
Whilst his glorious 2017/18 campaign remains his most prolific to date, the goals have continued to flow with a regularity unmatched amongst his Premier League peers.
He became the fourth fastest player to reach 50 goals in the Premier League, though did so in the fewest minutes with his 5332 across 62 games less than it took both Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.
Just four footballers reached a century in the division faster than Salah, each players who are recognised amongst the pantheon of Premier League centre-forwards.
Alan Shearer. Harry Kane. Sergio Aguero. Thierry Henry. Salah has matched each of them from a position on the right.
Comparisons with the great wide players of the Premier League era are difficult, with inside forwards having widely replaced the traditional wingers of the division’s first decade, but even given the tactical changes his record still stands out.
Salah has scored 20+ league goals in three of his first four seasons at Liverpool, whilst the one anomaly saw him reach just 19.
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale breached the 20-mark just once each, whilst Eden Hazard never managed that feat across seven seasons as a Chelsea player.
Just two players – Jack Parkinson (153) and the late Roger Hunt (144) – reached 100 goals for Liverpool in faster fashion than Salah’s 159 games, but there is more to his game than just a phenomenal return in front of goal
Salah is comfortably clear as the Premier League’s leading scorer since arriving at Anfield, but he also ranks joint-second for assists across that same period.
His 28 assists across his first three seasons on Merseyside are the most recorded by a Liverpool player in the Premier League era (joint with Andy Robertson) and the current campaign has began with the Egyptian looking as creative and clinical as ever.
After scoring against Norwich City in August 2021, he became the first player to score on the opening day of five consecutive Premier League seasons, whilst he currently leads the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot alongside Jamie Vardy as he pursues a third leading scorer accolade.
It could be argued that Salah is in the finest form of his career right now, with those who witnessed his magical second-half against Manchester City on Sunday suggesting this version of the star even eclipses that 2017/18 edition.
Liverpool had struggled during the first half of their huge clash against Pep Guardiola’s side, before Salah found another level in the second to help change the narrative of the game – turning the tide against Europe’s most impressive side at present.
𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐲 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 😱
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 3, 2021
Salah is not always the most aesthetically pleasing footballer even if he is capable of moments like that wondrous individual effort against City, but his scampering style, insatiable work-rate and lethal touch around the penalty area have made him unquestionably amongst the most effective.
Having formed part of an attacking triumvirate alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to propel Liverpool towards Champions League and Premier League success under Jurgen Klopp, Salah – if he wasn’t already – is now the side’s superstar in his own right.
Fears have already began to creep in regarding his contract situation however, having entered the final two years of his deal with the club and yet to follow the wealth of personnel to commit to new terms at Anfield.
Securing his future must be of paramount importance to the Reds’ hierarchy.
Salah has made the extraordinary become ordinary since making the move to Liverpool, arguably a victim of his own incredible consistency when it comes to individual acclaim.
It’s only when you pause to look back and assess the numbers, performances and match-winning moments, that it becomes ever clearer that Salah is amongst the best the Premier League has seen.