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Mohamed Salah – More Than Just a Finisher

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Since joining the Merseyside club Liverpool in 2017, you’ve heard the line “only Salah has more” a dozen times, and this is testament to the goalscoring records achieved since joining.

This season, he has accumulated 17 goal contributions in only 11 appearances in the league, and 5 contributions in 4 games in the Champions League.

With 27 G/A last campaign, 29 in 2019/20, 30 in 2018/19 – and that’s without considering his record breaking 32 goal Premier League season with 10 assists, demonstrating his absurd consistency.

However, Salah isn’t just the formidable goal scorer, and instead has added several elements to his repertoire – most notably in recent times.

Upper Body Strength/Balance:

Salah’s nimble frame partnered with his strength makes him a nightmare to push off the ball. This gives him the opportunity to take players on at will and hold up the ball effectively for teammates to run on through.

Salah’s goal vs Spurs in 2018 to slip away from the defenders is an example of this, and Man City in more recent times, scoring one of the goals of the season.

Picking up the ball from the touchline, cutting inside, slaloming left and right in a quick motion past Laporte before firing past Ederson.

Playmaking:

Despite being labelled as “selfish”, Salah has the joint most assists in the league with 7 – already 2 more than the last campaign. This is testament to his insane efficiency, with his quality of ball inch perfect.

The trivela pass has been a technique used by Salah multiple times recently, showing an additional trick to his armoury. An example of this in game action is Salah’s trivela’s pass vs Watford, perfectly bending the ball away from the defender to find his teammate Sadio Mane.

Salah this season has 2.4 key passes per 90. In the 2018/19 season, Salah averaged 1.9 key passes per 90. For context, Messi in 2020/21 season averaged 2.2 key passes per 90, showing Salah is right up there with the very best in this department & has bettered his previous self – albeit a small sample size. (Data from whoscored).

Drive on the Ball/Directness:

Salah’s willingness to drive at anybody, provides a progressive route for Liverpool, to transition from the middle of the pitch to a threatening attack.

With 11.46 progressive passes per 90, Salah more often than not makes a goalscoring action from his carries – contributing to drawing the opposition side out of position & creating space for his teammates to create more chances. (Data from fbref).

Decision Making:

Salah’s final action is neon perfect 9/10 times. Whether that be a final pass, when to release the ball or what shot choice in different situations, Salah always picks the right action.

An example of this is Keita’s goal vs Man United this season, where Salah beat his man & slid through Keita with an inch perfect pass.

This is massively improved from his early years at Liverpool, where often he’d take a shot when the pass is the right option.

Tracking Back/ Work Rate:

AC Milan at home was an example of Salah’s willingness to drop deep to help his team – dropping into LB to intercept the pass & progress the ball forward. Albeit this isn’t a standout attribute, it is useful & allows Trent & Salah to interchange if needed to ensure Liverpool aren’t exposed in transition.

Despite being an inside forward, Salah often operates from the touchline, giving him the opportunity to provide support to Trent when needed defensively & to overload on the right side which benefits Liverpool offensively.

Movement:

Salah’s movement makes him neon impossible to take out a game. He is always alert in case of a rebound, for a tap in or occupies the right spaces to always be available for a pass, which explains why it’s rare Salah doesn’t create a high xG opportunity.

This makes him very hard to mark, as he is comfortable with receiving the ball in different areas.

His inside forward role benefits this trait, partnered with Liverpool’s ability and system to go long. With his starting position from deep – on the touchline, and his runs traditionally inside the fullback or in between the 2 CBs, and Firmino’s willingness to drop deep, all combined with his persistence makes him very hard to keep a tab on.

Shooting Versatility:

All you need to do is watch Salah’s goals over the last few years to realise how adaptable a finisher he is. From Leeds last season where he volleyed top corner, to a near post finish vs Man United, or a solo goal vs Watford more recently.

He is comfortable shooting from any angle, any situation & more times than not picks the right shot choice. This is just one attribute which has allowed him to become one of the very best.

Other examples of this include his goal vs Watford in 19/20, where he chops inside and uses his less favoured right foot to arrow into the corner – and conveniently in the same game back heeling past the keeper.  

The difference maker:

Salah’s ability to constantly take the game by the scruff of the neck is astonishing. The best example of this is vs Man City, single handily getting Liverpool a point in a big title race game with 2 goal contributions most notable.

A hattrick at Old Trafford is no mean feat either – being the first rival player to ever do so.

It doesn’t stop there, with Salah getting a brace at the Wanda Metropolitan earning Atletico their first home defeat in 4 years in the competition.

The solo runs, the consistent performances, the clinical finishes; Salah has it all week in week out irrespective of the opposition, being one of the focal reasons for Liverpool’s league standing.

Durability/availability:

Outside of his wide range of qualities, Salah is an unbelievable athlete. His durability to rarely miss a game is an example of a perfect athlete & a true elite in football.

You’d have to date back to the 2019/20 season for his last muscular injury – where he only even missed 27 days total within the season due to problems with his ankle.

The longest Salah has ever been injured for at once is 28 days, back at Roma.

When you consider the high intensity system Salah plays in, the robotic schedule since COVID & the injuries at Liverpool recently, to be available at practically every instance is remarkable and is a very underrated aspect for any footballer. (Data from Transfermarkt).

When you partner this skill set with someone who is quite so efficient in front of goal, it is no surprise to see Salah somehow better himself season after season.

A player who never hides, has adapted even in tougher times, with his qualities showcased even more so in a struggling and underperforming Liverpool side last season, being a definitive difference between top 4 and Champions League – averaging 66 minutes per goal in this season’s competition. (Data from sofascore).

I believe this version of Salah is the best version of his, shortly followed by his equally as inevitable self-last season. This is Salah with a complete skillset, an unrivalled mentality, a monumental drive.

This isn’t an inform Salah, this is a Salah which is sustainable over the years and has shown no sign of any different. Once again being a fundamental component for who wins the league, undoubtedly the best in the country & a player who’ll continue to solidify his status as a true great.

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Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images

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