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30 goals, 16 assists a ‘poor’ season? – Mo Salah is not appreciated enough

Mohamed Salah may not have always been at his world-class best for Liverpool in 2022/23, but another record-breaking campaign outlined his greatness.

Last summer, confirmation that the Egyptian King had signed a new deal at Anfield until 2025 felt as important as any new signing.

Salah had enjoyed another stellar campaign, helping Liverpool come within touching distance of an iconic quadruple, and nailing down his future was huge.

Heading into the new season, the Reds’ No. 11 was again one of the first names on the team sheet – come May, you were left wondering where they would be without him.

Mohamed Salah, 2022/23

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 6, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Started: 48 (All competitions)
On as a substitute: 3
Unused sub: 0
Goals: 30
Assists: 16
Overall Season Rating: 7.75

 

So this is a ‘poor’ season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 30, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s decline in 2022/23 was as shocking as it was depressing, with the season beginning with realistic dreams of a Premier League title.

It quickly became apparent that all was not well, however, with a combination of a short pre-season, key injuries, poor business and fatigue working against Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

In Salah, however, they had someone they could almost always rely on, even when his performances were mediocre by his elite standards and his influence stunted by an early push too wide.

After getting on the scoresheet at Fulham on the opening weekend, the 30-year-old never really looked back, once again producing relentless levels of end product.

The winner at home to Man City was Salah’s standout moment of the campaign, with his turn on the halfway line and subsequent finish a stunning Anfield moment.

Few players in the world are capable of producing such brilliance, especially against high-quality opponents, but he seemingly does it at will.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 5, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

By the time the season came to an end, Salah had scored 30 goals and chipped in with a further 16 assists – a career high at Anfield – commendable numbers, considering the many struggles going on around him at Liverpool.

While others in his position were receiving endless praise for their efforts, some even had the nerve to deem this a ‘poor’ campaign from the Reds icon.

As a comparison, Jack Grealish, who many have talked up as being in the form of his life for City, netted just five times and bagged 11 assists, in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford has, at times, been compared to Kylian Mbappe and was in blistering form after the World Cup, yet he still finished with the same number of goals as Salah and half the amount of assists.

Only Kevin De Bruyne (16) got more assists in the Premier League than his 12, and the Liverpool legend was seventh when it came to big chances created (15).

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 22, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the third goal, and go level with Robbie Fowler as the club's 6th highest goal-scorer with 183 goals, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Not bad for someone who is apparently ‘only interested in scoring goals’ and who is also perennially ‘greedy’ as a footballer!

This is the problem with Salah – the standards he is expected to reach are different from everyone else, and when he isn’t in absolutely world-class form, bizarre criticism comes his way.

This is a Premier League great who is producing remarkable numbers year in, year out, and he will remain criminally underrated by some.

Was this season his best in a Liverpool shirt? No. Were there poor performances? Absolutely.

But while missed penalties and the odd piece of wrong decision-making were on show at times, he was the Reds’ best outfield player by a distance and shows no sign of slowing down.

 

Salah in Liverpool’s greatest top-three?

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 17, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At this point, we are left wondering where Salah is in the pantheon of Liverpool greats throughout history.

Football is extremely subjective, so when it comes to such debates, some will always choose trophies over talent, or allow nostalgia to beat the present day.

Or vice versa, for that matter.

There is now at least an argument to say that Salah is in Liverpool’s top-three players of all time, though, behind only Sir Kenny Dalglish and Steven Gerrard.

Sure, he hasn’t scored the record-setting goals of Ian Rush, doesn’t possess the elegance of John Barnes or possibly the influence of Billy Liddell, but he is right in the conversation.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 13, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 242nd Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A tally of 186 goals in 305 appearances is an outrageous return for a striker, let alone a wide forward, and he now sits joint-fifth with Gerrard in the all-time scoring charts.

It will be easier to properly gauge Salah once his playing days are over, but there is no question that he belongs in the company of those mentioned.

“The numbers he creates, we all know that after his career he will be seen as one of the all-time greats, that’s clear,” Klopp eulogised back in May.

“Now he is still in the career and some people might not appreciate him enough, but we do.”

The No. 11 has obliterated records left, right and centre down the years – he became Liverpool’s record scorer in the Premier League back in March, for example – and they will continue to tumble for as long as he’s at Anfield.

There could be the usual flirting from the likes of Real Madrid and PSG this summer, but Salah seems happy in a Liverpool shirt and the thought of him leaving doesn’t bear thinking about.

There are still chapters to write in his Liverpool career and it could be fascinating to see how he fares in Klopp’s new system, changing his relationship with Trent Alexander-Arnold and dovetailing with new midfield colleagues.

 

What next?

MADRID, SPAIN - Wednesday, March 15, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The message for Salah is clear moving forward: just keep doing what you’re doing.

While there are doubts over certain players, from Fabinho to Jordan Henderson, the Egyptian is someone who will surely keep delivering.

At 30, some players can naturally decline, but Salah is a physical machine with an elite mindset, and given his lack of injuries, there is no reason why he can’t play at the top well into his 30s.

Each of his six seasons have seen him amass more than 4,000 minutes on the pitch – and that is not taking his international exploits into consideration. One his best assets is his availability.

At some point, Liverpool will have to think about a long-term picture without their main man in it, but thankfully, we can appreciate him at his peak for the time being.

Mohamed Salah celebrates with Trent Alexander-Arnold, crowning him after breaking record, Anfield vs Man United (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

A natural successor has yet to be identified and transfer speculation remains quiet over competition in his position.

Luis Diaz was briefly trialled in the role and we’ve seen Harvey Elliott there too, and the attempts to also integrate the likes of Ben Doak and Kaide Gordon suggest the club will look to mould their own right winger.

For now, his position is certainly safe and while Salah wasn’t helped by many teammates this season he still performed, and if that changes next term and the Reds click again, he is capable of reaching new heights.

How can anyone still possibly underrate this magician of a footballer?


Best moment: The stunning winner at home to Man City.

Worst moment: A woeful missed penalty in the 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth.

Role next season: Undisputed key man.