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Mo Salah’s breathtaking season confirmed his status as world’s best

In his fifth season at the club, Mohamed Salah still managed to find new and inventive ways to dazzle us and at times take our breath away.

Liverpool’s No. 11 flew out of the blocks like a man possessed, finding the net in 10 consecutive games culminating in an unprecedented hat-trick at Old Trafford.

That run included back-to-back goal of the season contenders against Man City and Watford, which had many heralding him as the best on the planet.

The level Salah was operating at prior to Christmas was quite simply too much for defenders to live with – he was a force of nature.

Mohamed Salah, 2021/22

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 14, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Started: 45 (All competitions)
On as a substitute: 6
Unused sub: 0
Goals: 31
Assists: 16

Overall Season Rating: 9.62

 

Making history

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the fifth goal, completing his hat-trick, during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His role in the 5-0 drubbing of Man United deserves a review of its own.

Salah became the first player in Premier League history to bag three at the home of our friends from down the M62, and looked visibly annoyed that Liverpool weren’t able to get more following Paul Pogba’s red card.

Those three goals came immediately after the phenomenal solo efforts against City and Watford respectively – both absolute works of art.

It is quite possibly the best month any Liverpool player has ever had.

Not content with the Old Trafford heroics, the golden period continued with a brace at Goodison Park. Two beautifully taken finishes to sink another bitter rival on their home patch and elevate his status across European football.

In addition to 31 goals in all competitions, Salah also notched an impressive 16 assists.

Thirteen of those came in the league, enough to capture the Premier League Playmaker of the Season award and quash any criticism of his perceived selfish nature in front of goal.

The prolific goalscoring form also extended into Europe.

2H21DBN Madrid, Spain. 19th Oct, 2021. Salah celebrates a goal at the Uefa Champions League match between Atletico de Madrid CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Credit: Christian Bertrand/Alamy Live News

Mo broke into new territory by notching seven goals in the Champions League group stage, more than any Liverpool player in the competition’s history.

It is an especially impressive tally when you consider the ‘Group of Death’ label attached to Group B when the draw came out.

Goals against Villa, Newcastle and Chelsea followed before his call-up for international duty in January.

Beyond those games he missed while at the Africa Cup of Nations, the only other matchday squad not to feature Salah (in both the Premier League and in Europe) was away at Southampton in the last week of the season.

 

Post-AFCON struggles

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - Tuesday, June 19, 2018: Egypt's Mohamed Salah walks off dejected as his side lose 3-1 during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group A match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It feels somewhat harsh to describe another record-breaking campaign as a season of two halves, but there was a tangible shift in output when the Egyptian returned from the AFCON that is worth a degree of analysis.

The heartbreak of missing out on an international trophy, with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, was compounded by defeat in a World Cup qualifier seven weeks later.

Sadio Mane was the beneficiary on both occasions.

Salah’s penalty miss in the World Cup playoff final shootout would be enough to throw anyone off their stride, and the national team setbacks were in no way helpful to his form towards the end of the season.

There has, of course, also been a contract-shaped cloud over his head for the majority of the season, an unwelcome distraction for any professional looking to produce to the best of their capabilities on a weekly basis.

PARIS, FRANCE - Saturday, May 28, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah looks dejected after the UEFA Champions League Final game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF at the Stade de France. Real Madrid won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While there is still no resolution at the time of writing, Liverpool fans around the world will be hoping that an agreement can be reached over the summer to allow Salah to flourish in the manner that he did earlier in the season.

It is ultimately, however, a season which yielded a number of individual and collective honours.

Salah became only the fourth player in the Premier League era to win three Golden Boot awards, leaving him just one shy of Thierry Henry’s record total (four).

He also picked up a second PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and another Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year for good measure.

 

What next?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 22, 2022: Liverpool'selebrates after scoring the second goalhamed Salah cg2 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is a marker of the standards he has set himself that, despite all of the individual accolades, question marks have still been raised about the form.

Salah will hope to enter 2022/23 re-energised and ready to hit the ground running in a similar fashion to last season.

It is worth noting that Egypt’s failure to qualify for the World Cup will give him the best part of six weeks’ break across November and December, a welcome bonus from a Liverpool perspective given the relentless nature of his schedule in recent times.

Regardless of what happens with the contract situation, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch this man week in, week out at the peak of his powers.

Having already confirmed his intention to stick around next season, we can begin to look forward to more moments of brilliance as this incredible side chase all of the honours all over again.

Players like this come around once in a generation, appreciate it while it lasts.


Best moment: The hat-trick at Old Trafford

Worst moment: A penalty miss away at Leicester

Role next season: The talisman once again, even more so given the imminent departure of Sadio Mane

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