When Liverpool took the plunge for a frizzy haired Egyptian in the summer of last year from AS Roma there was curiosity in the ranks. Could the former Chelsea man show the Premier League what he was all about and live up to the then club record transfer fee of £36.9 million? That was the big question on Reds fan’s lips. But by the end of the campaign this little man would be written in Liverpool legend as an Egyptian god having more than answered.
And perhaps this shouldn’t be of as much surprise as it has been. Despite a frustrating and short-lived time at the Blues, his time in Italy for Fiorentina and then Roma saw him bubbling away as an emerging star. In his debut season at the latter side he was named Fans’ Signing of the Season as well as picking up the big one of the Roma Player of the Year finishing as top goal scorer for the side with 14 Serie A goals in 34 appearances. Salah proved he wasn’t a one-season-wonder improving on his tally in his next season with 15 goals in 31 games, almost a return of 1 goal every two games; not bad for a winger. Jurgen Klopp must’ve been watching, and decided Mo was the man for the job to try and take Liverpool to new heights, but even he wouldn’t have predicted how right he would have been.
From the first minute Salah was a hit. In his debut against Watford he picked up his first goal in the iconic red of Liverpool and never looked back from there. 12 days later Mo picked up his second goal and first at Anfield to help the Reds qualify for the Champions League and then nabbed another and an assist against Arsenal only three days later. These performances saw the new signing named Liverpool Player of the Month for August, and quickly the man from Egypt became a fan favourite.
But pundits and fans alike kept their cool. Despite the praise heaped on the exiting winger, there was no way this man would come out of nowhere and carry on this electric form for the whole season surely? Or so you would’ve thought.
As the season progressed, Salah never stopped. Goal, assist, goal, goal, assist. “Who’s scored – oh Mo again of course” was a popular phrase in Liverpool fans’ conversations as Salah made the initial surprise a long-term habit, one which he just couldn’t shrug off. He quickly got to double figures for goals and then to the magic 20, making him the joint-second fastest player to reach that number in Liverpool history on only his 26th appearance, only being bettered by George Allan who got to the milestone in 19 appearances back in 1895.
Goal reel after goal reel including a stunner many dubbed ‘Messi-esque’ against Tottenham in February came next before a first Liverpool hattrick in a 5-0 thrashing of Watford in March saw him write more history, scoring his 36th goal in all competitions already; something never done before in a debut season by a Liverpool player and it was only March. The goals also saw the sensation overtake Harry Kane and none other than Lionel Messi as the leading goal scorer in all of Europe’s top five leagues. Liverpool Legend Steven Gerrard said: “We are witnessing the start of greatness” and how I bet the former captain was relishing putting back on his boots and linking up with this man who couldn’t do anything wrong.
As the season drew to a close the newly named Egyptian King never let up and received more awards and records than most players can only dream of receiving in their whole career. Brace yourselves, there’s plenty to mention. Most notable and I’m sure the one Salah will relish the most are the Premier League Golden Boot as he scored a record-breaking 32 goals in a 38-game season overtaking the formidable names of Shearer, Suarez and Ronaldo. On top on this magic Mo conjured up ten assists making it 42 goal involvements; another Premier League record. On this magnificent run 17 teams were on the receiving end of a Salah goal making it (you guessed it) another Premier League record.
During an astonishing season where 44 goals were picked up by the Egyptian in all competitions, he also gained the awards of Prem Player of the Season, Football Writer’s Association Player of the Year, Liverpool FC Player of the Season and PFA Player’s Player of the Season. During this run he also pocketed the LFC Player of the Month seven times, PFA Player of the Month four times and a treble of Prem Player of the Month to suit. The trophy room in the Salah household may need an extension.
The work is not done so far with a busy summer ahead for the hottest name in football right now. The Champions League final on the 26th of may sees a Salah vs Ronaldo showdown followed by the Egyptian King leading his troops into the World Cup in June.
Liverpool and Egyptian fans alike will be counting on the man they now worship to produce what he has been doing all season. Can he put a cherry on top of his sterling campaign? With the season he’s been having you’d be mad to doubt him.
Simply sensational, simply Mohammed Salah.
Featured Image courtesy of: Charlie Pumfrey
Images within the article courtesy of Getty Images