Salah has certainly had a terrific season so far and with the Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne, he is now a favourite for the PFA award, and it seems like the only way is up for this prodigious talent. But are comparisons to living legends idle hyperbole or something more?
The burst of speed from out wide of the pitch, the poised close control, a brilliance distinct from themselves, all make parallels between Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and the legendary Lionel Messi are there to be drawn by commentators. Having devastated Watford with four goals in a single match, the prodigal Egyptian has raised his goal total to 28, breaking records for the debut season of any Liverpool player and making some very persuasive arguments for a player of the year candidate.
Merseyside club boss Jürgen Klopp has advised caution, attempting to diffuse the hype whilst acknowledging how impressive Salah’s achievements to date have been. He diplomatically stated that Salah was most definitely “on his way” to greatness, but stated that the player probably isn’t relishing the comparisons “I’m not certain he’s looking for these comparisons. Messi’s been carving out his position for what feels like years”. It’s true that Messi is such a unique talent that, by its very definition, defies comparison. If nothing else it’s the sheer longevity of Messi’s career that makes it impossible to compare his talents to someone of Salah’s youth.
“Of course, when you are compared with a great player like that it’s very good,” he said.
There may be more appropriate comparisons to make to a player from his own football club. His performance against Watford was reminiscent of no one more than Luis Suarez, the greatest Liverpool player of his generation. Indeed, it was Suarez who last achieved the feat of scoring four goals in a single Premiership match against Norwich back in the winter of 2013. It was almost pathological how much Suarez would take chunks out of the Canaries, scoring twelve times over a mere five games. His efforts were truly artistic in their execution, and in his four-goal match, every ball he put into the net was a meticulous piece of footballing wizardry.
Between Salah and Suarez’s play, there are certainly grounds for comparisons that you don’t have to look a long way for. They both share an uncanny capability for putting together runs that twist and turn around the opposition to leave defenders without an answer. Plus they both seem to share the sheer brutal willpower that can change the course of not just their own performances, but that of their football club as a whole. If Salah manages to accrue two more goals before the end of the season (which seems highly likely) he’ll be the first player after Suarez to manage scoring thirty goals in a single Premiership season. The record for Liverpool football club remains 47, an achievement managed by Ian Rush back in 1984.
There are still several fixtures left, and Salah will have ample opportunity to rack up his goal total, plus work left to do in the Champions League. If he can manage to break the goal scoring record for a single season, neither he nor the Liverpool fans will be concerning themselves much with the comparisons between Messi. His win against Watford was certainly a shot in the arm for the scousers club, helping them bounce back with a return to fighting form after their recent defeat at the hands of Manchester United. Whatever is next for Salah and his football club will be hotly anticipated by die-hard Liverpool fans and commentators alike, as we get to watch the young talent show the footballing world exactly what he is capable of.