On an incredible run in his fifth season with Liverpool, Mohamed Salah is producing a convincing argument to be seen as the world’s best player on current form.
When Salah joined Liverpool in the summer of 2017, few expected him to go on to reach the record-breaking heights he has.
What Salah has gone on to achieve in the last four-and-a-bit years is remarkable, making him an undisputed Liverpool legend and possibly the best player of the Jurgen Klopp era.
At 29 and at the peak of his powers, the Reds’ No. 11 looks better than ever.
Stunning start to the season
Last season was a depressing one at Anfield, with injuries crippling Liverpool and no fans in stadiums making for a lifeless version of football.
While many Reds players fell alarmingly below their top level, Salah was somewhere near his best, scoring 31 goals to earn the club’s Player of the Year award.
The 29-year-old has not let up since, making a relentless start to the 2021/22 campaign and looking as good as he ever has.
A double away to Porto took Salah’s goal tally to eight in as many appearances, and his overall total to an astonishing 133 in 211 matches.
His blistering form has seen him move into the top 10 of Liverpool’s all-time goalscorers, with ninth-placed Harry Chambers (151) now in sight.
To sum up the magic of Salah, he only needs 51 goals in his next 158 games to have a better record than Robbie Fowler – a once-in-a-generation Reds hero who was renowned for his finishing prowess.
He is currently averaging one every 1.58 games, which puts him on course to eclipse Fowler within the next 81 appearances; score another three on top of that, and he would leapfrog Steven Gerrard into the all-time top five.
Salah is the fifth-fastest player to reach 100 Premier League goals, behind only Alan Shearer, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry, and the fourth-fastest for a single club.
Considering he’s not even an out-and-out striker, to belong in such high-profile company says all you need to know.
While Mane is still short of his best and Diogo Jota flitters in and out of games, Salah is the man carrying Liverpool’s attack and has been for some time now.
He is relishing that responsibility.
World’s best player?
Salah is playing at such an irresistible level that there is an argument to call him the world’s greatest player at the moment.
It is now a genuine surprise if Salah doesn’t score in a game – in fact, that has only happened once so far this season, at home to Burnley.
While goals will always define Salah, his all-round game is phenomenal, with only Trent Alexander-Arnold (21) creating more chances than his 16 in the league, while he boasts an infectious work ethic too.
His frightening pace and underrated physical strength make him a nightmare opponent, not to mention his unquenchable thirst to batter record after record.
These are all part of Salah’s greatness, and when you throw all these many key attributes together, you get a truly special player.
So is anyone on the planet actually better than him?
Talent-wise, Lionel Messi remains the cream of the crop, but he is not yet firing on all cylinders at PSG, despite scoring a wonderful goal against City in midweek.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t the player he was, even though the English media are desperate to suggest otherwise since his return to Man United.
Robert Lewandowski is someone who can lay claim to being on Salah’s goalscoring level, as he continues to demolish defences with Bayern Munich, but he doesn’t quite possess the Liverpool superstar’s full package as a player.
The likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are unquestionably world class – Erling Haaland is also a freakish young talent – but would any Liverpool fan trade Salah for them on this form?
He is delivering in almost every game and has become a global icon, etching his name alongside the true Premier League greats.
The biggest praise you could give Salah is that he’s a combination of Messi’s technical mastery and Ronaldo’s robotic focus.
He is someone rival supporters are terrified of, which is another ultimate compliment.
Someone like Thierry Henry would consistently ruin Reds fans’ afternoons during his Arsenal days, and Salah is now that man for those who dislike Liverpool.
Groans of ‘not Salah again’ will occur in stadiums, pubs and living rooms all over the world, as he notches yet another goal.
The subjective nature of football means that there will be varying opinions on who the best is right now, but Salah is right in the mix at the very least.
For me, he’s No. 1.
Joining illustrious names
Salah finds himself in exclusive company, in terms of being the world’s best player while in a Liverpool shirt.
It is something that may only have happened a handful of times during the club’s history, outlining the gargantuan level he has reached.
In the late 1980s, John Barnes was possibly the best there was anywhere, at a time when Sir Kenny Dalglish had created one of the finest Reds teams of all time.
English clubs’ ban from Europe after Heysel robbed Barnes of showing off his unique ability in the European Cup, but those who watched him will attest to how great he was.
Peter Beardsley described the legendary winger as “the best player I ever played with, bar none,” while Phil Thompson claims he is “one of the best three players ever to play for Liverpool.”
Similarly, there was a spell in 2009 when Gerrard was the most dominant, complete player in the game, around the time of his double against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
It was at that point that Zinedine Zidane declared: “Is he the best in the world? He might not get the attention of Messi and Ronaldo but, yes, I think he just might be.”
Then there’s Luis Suarez, who remains one of the most talented footballers ever to play for Liverpool.
In the winter months of the 2013/14 season he was an unplayable genius, so nearly inspiring the Reds to the title.
Messi and Ronaldo were at their peak then, but Suarez enjoyed a two or three-month spell that even usurped what the two best players of their generation were doing.
Michael Owen won the Ballon d’Or in 2001, so is worthy of a mention – Luis Figo was named World Player of the Year, though – while Fernando Torres was the world’s leading striker in 2007/08, but not the best player overall.
Salah deserves to be spoken of in exactly the same breath as Barnes, Gerrard and Suarez, and he does finally seem to be getting the widespread acclaim he has deserved for years.
When his very best days are eventually behind him, we may look back at this period and remember it as his absolute peak – a time when he was the best on the planet.
Here’s hoping he further adds to his legend at home to City on Sunday.