Mohamed Salah on the brink of history after another stunning season for Liverpool
Egyptian genius aiming to secure the Golden Boot for the third time on Premier League's final day
Even in a season that has contained some historic lows for Liverpool, Mohamed Salah has already registered a series of feats that stand out in the club’s past for the right reasons.
With one game to go, he is on the brink of another achievement that would put him in a select group of three, along with perhaps the Premier League’s greatest player and its record scorer.
Salah starts Sunday's game against Crystal Palace with dual objectives: to secure the win that books Liverpool’s place in the top four and to get the goals to earn himself the Golden Boot.
He is level on 22 goals with Harry Kane. He has already become the first Liverpool player to reach 20 in three Premier League campaigns and the first since Ian Rush to reach 20 in all competitions in four successive seasons.
Salah was the Premier League’s top scorer in 2017-18 with 32 goals. A year later, his 22 put him level with his team-mate Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Even the one season when Salah did not win the Golden Boot, he finished with 19 goals, just four fewer than Jamie Vardy. Should Salah now win the award for the third time in four seasons, it would put him in exalted company.
Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry both recorded hat-tricks in successive seasons, with the Frenchman taking his tally to four years as top scorer. No one else has done it more than twice.
For Jurgen Klopp, Salah’s scoring is all the more impressive because Liverpool’s has been a troubled season. Both Roberto Firmino and Mane have found goals elusive, while Diogo Jota has suffered from injuries. The Egyptian has been the constant, starting with his opening-day hat-trick against Leeds. His goals have been worth 17 points; subtract them and Liverpool would be below Aston Villa.
“It is easy to see where we would be without Mo’s goals but it’s the same for all the teams, if their top scorers don’t score it would look different,” Klopp said.
Salah’s single-minded pursuit of goals has benefited the whole side. “We know the team helps him a lot but Mo carries a lot as well: it’s his desire, it’s his professionalism, it’s his greed as well which helps us completely,” his manager added.
“And this year is one of his best years without having the best numbers of all he had. But it is a really top year for him because for a striker in a team, which is not flying constantly, scoring these numbers it is absolutely exceptional. That’s what makes him really special.”
Without Salah, though, Liverpool would not have the possibility of qualifying for next year’s Champions League. Their campaign has posed unprecedented difficulties, whether in terms of defensive injuries or complications from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Klopp has suffered personally; his mother Elisabeth died in January and, with travel banned, he was unable to go to the funeral in Germany.
“Was it the most difficult? Yes,” he said. “It was the most difficult year of my life and the season was obviously in this year because I never thought I would have to deal with the pandemic; not me personally but us all. I found that really difficult to deal with at times, to be honest.
"Football was part of it. What did I learn? That sleep is overestimated. And am I a better manager? Better, I am not sure, but much more experienced. We make so many experiences we couldn’t have in any other years. There will be a time when I appreciate that but it will be in the future, not in the moment.”
Updated: May 23, 2021 05:10 PM