Mohamed Salah –will he come back and wow the Premier League next season?
Alex Rousou asks the big Liverpool question
Mohamed Salah completed his move to Anfield in June after the Reds agreed a £34m fee with Roma The switch came three years after Liverpool first tried to sign the Egyptian, although he is no stranger to Premier league football.
Salah endured a long and tough spell at Chelsea after his £12m move from Basel to London in 2014. Under Jose Mourinho, the pacy Egyptian was limited to 19 appearances in two and a half years at the club and in that time netted only twice. One of those goals was in Chelsea’s 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal in March 2014 and the other in Chelsea’s 3-0 win against Stoke in April of that year. After failing to break into the first team, Salah was sent out on loan to Italian sides Fiorentina and Roma where the winger rediscovered his form.
Having impressed in Florence, at Roma, the rapid Egyptian became a talisman, netting 15 times and providing 6 assists in his first season at the club to win their Player of the Season Award. Having taken the Italian league by storm, “La Maggica” quickly snapped up Salah for £15m before the 2016/17 season began and the forward went on to surpass his first-season tally at the club by scoring 19 times and making 13 assists. Including the two penalties that he won for Roma, the speedster contributed to a goal every 94 minutes.
If you’re wondering how these statistics compare with the best forwards in the Premier League, well they better the records of the most prolific goalscorers including Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Diego Costa. Only Harry Kane achieved higher stats; the Spurs striker having contributed to a goal every 82 minutes.
Looking at the statistics, Mohamed Salah is clinical enough to make a massive contribution to Jurgen Klopp’s side, but how does he fit in at Liverpool?
The Reds’ style of play is far from ordinary. Klopp relies heavily on his wingers, namely right-winger Sadio Mané, to sprint in behind defences with their gut-busting pace that proves too fast for most defenders to close down, and create goal-scoring opportunities. That’s where Salah comes in; the electric Egyptian’s raw pace allows him to drive at defenders or run in behind, and although he thrived on the right wing for Roma, he can play on the left-hand side of the pitch or centrally which would allow Klopp to field both Salah and Mané at the same time.
Having said that, the left-footed Salah proved less impactful when playing on the left wing. The reason for that is because his most devastating attributes are his shoulder drop and pace, which are fully utilised when he can cut in from the right wing onto his favoured left foot to shoot or thread the ball through the defence. It would surely be absurd for Klopp to fork out £35m for Salah just to play him in a part of the pitch where he is less effective.
The only other option to replacing the formidable Mané would be to play Salah through the centre. Despite the fact that Roberto Firmino has fulfilled that role exquisitely so far, Salah has played centrally as the focal point before at Roma and performed extremely well, scoring twice and providing three assists in seven games. Therefore, Firmino may find himself facing competition from the likes of Salah, as well as Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi.
No matter where the 25-year-old Egyptian plays, his arrival will give Klopp plenty more options when setting out the team and will allow the Reds to rotate, helping to prevent the mental and physical exhaustion that hindered Liverpool’s title chances last season.
It’s worth adding that Salah scored on his debut for the Reds in a pre-season friendly against Wigan recently (see below). There will be tougher tests to come but Liverpool fans will be hoping it’s the first of many.
Do you think Mohamed Salah is the right man for Liverpool? Have your say in the comments or tweet us at @theleaguemag