At his current rate of 0.93 goals per Premier League game, Salah is on course to score 35 league goals this season. There is good reason to think that he might easily hit that target given Liverpool still have to play Bournemouth, Stoke City and Brighton at Anfield, and Crystal Palace and West Brom away from home.
Should Salah reach that figure of 35, it would be a landmark achievement. The Egyptian only needs four goals to surpass the highest ever goal total in a 38-game Premier League season, but 35 would make him the highest goalscorer in any English top-flight season since Ron Davies for Southampton in 1966/67.
A player signed as a wide forward has not just scored goals at a surprising rate, but a rate above anything we have seen in 50 years of English football.
Jurgen Klopp’s post-game summation of Salah understandably generated plenty of headlines:
“I think Mo is on the way. I don’t think Mo or anybody else wants to be compared with Lionel Messi – he is the one who has been doing what he’s been doing for what feels like 20 years or so. The last player I know who had the same influence on a team performance was Diego Maradona. But Mo is in a fantastic way, that’s for sure.”
You can’t really doubt that assessment, although Klopp knows as well as anyone that saying the M-word will inevitably lead to Messi comparisons. Salah has produced a ‘Messi season’, one in which everything he touches turns to gold and one in which at times he is simply unplayable. There is no possible defence for this.
To judge this success story, we have to look at where it came from. Salah’s fee looks remarkably cheap now, but there was a reason for it. He was a creator as much as a finisher, but also a player who was prone to inconsistency. Liverpool were not fighting off interest from dozens of other clubs.
“It’s a lot of money for Liverpool to buy a player, who, if everybody is fit, I don’t think starts,” said former Liverpool player (and now pundit) Steve Nicol, and it was hardly an outrageous suggestion at the time with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in place.
From that place of doubt, Salah has potentially made himself the best single-season goalscorer in the last 50 years of English football. Kevin de Bruyne might have been the Premier League’s best player and thus deserving of the PFA’s award, but Salah has produced the single most astonishing achievement of the season.