Mohamed Salah has amassed 155 goal contributions in 174 games for Liverpool, producing a ratio of 0.9 goal contributions per game. That is obscene. And to think he’s improving those figures almost every week. This season, he has 20 in 22.
Amongst his impressive offensive output, there is a conversation that seemingly nobody wants to have. There has been a ‘greatest of all time’ consensus involving two past Premier League players for a long time, viewed as far ahead of the chasing pack; Arsenal’s Thierry Henry and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo. The Frenchman is seen by many as the best to ever grace England’s shores, but is Salah catching up?
SALAH TO RIVAL THE BEST ENGLAND HAS SEEN?
As for actual quality, Mo Salah will likely not eclipse Henry nor Ronaldo. Perhaps this will be unpopular, but for me, the French international was a naturally better footballer than the Madeira native. Henry was just that good. However, legacy and greatness aren’t measured that way. While Henry as a player will remain the best to grace the Premier League unless Lionel Messi decides to up and leave Barcelona to seek pastures new in England, that doesn’t mean Salah can’t eclipse his legendary Premier League status.
First off, let’s look at Henry’s production. Henry, in his time at Arsenal, scored 228 goals and assisted 104 more. The Arsenal man resided in North London from 1999 to 2007, meaning he averaged 28 goals and 13 assists per season. Salah, over three and a half seasons, is averaging 27 goals and 11 assists each campaign, and this season is nowhere near over yet.
Of course, this isn’t factoring in the inevitable ageing decline which he will experience if he stays at Liverpool (Henry averaged 29 and 14 before his last season at Arsenal, but it’s still absurd nonetheless.) Salah is a machine. A monster. A menace – whatever you want to call him. His numbers are ridiculous, and they’re only going to get better. Salah has stuck his fork in the ground and announced his presence in the Premier League’s numbers discussion. Even with Henry and Ronaldo (who didn’t even score 100 Premier League goals in six years), he is here.
But numbers alone aren’t enough. Single seasons aren’t enough, as we saw with Luís Suarez, who had nearly enough 50 goal contributions in his final season with Liverpool, making it arguably the best season in British footballing history. Longevity in the legacy debate matters. Thierry spent eight seasons in England and Cristiano had six.
People say you can’t be the Premier League’ GOAT’ without dozens of medals around your neck. Well, here’s an interesting fact; Henry, the Premier League greatest of all time only has four trophies to his name – two Premier League medals and two FA Cup medals. On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo collected seven major trophies in his six years in the North West of England.
Let’s count Salah’s haul. In three full seasons, he has won a Champions League crown and a solitary Premier League trophy. Salah is on course to win another title it seems, as Liverpool are poised to pull away from the rest – mainly due to the Egyptians’ contributions.
If Liverpool do win the Premier League this season, Salah will have matched Henry’s Premier League tally in half the time the Frenchman spent in the capital. Not forgetting he also managed a Champions League trophy which the centre-forward failed to do with Arsenal.
The above graphic makes for interesting reading. Whilst not implying that Salah is definitively sat at the same table with Henry or Ronaldo just yet, he is undoubtedly nipping at their heels.
Henry and Ronaldo’s Premier League cement is dry. Salah’s is categorically not. With his play only getting better and better, and his ruthlessness increasing imposingly, Salah is on course to replace Cristiano Ronaldo as the primary candidate to rival Thierry Henry as the greatest Premier League player of all time.
Does he replace the Frenchman? I don’t know. I find that hard to fathom, like most will. He will come close and when we have the discussion of the greatest Premier League player ever, be sure to include the Egyptian King – Mohamed Salah.
Words by Mustafa Jawaad – @Mussy__J10
Graphics by @SamIngram_