Mohamed Salah: The night the ‘phenomenal’ Liverpool man downed Roma

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Mohamed Salah did not celebrate either of his goals against his former club

Mohamed Salah was named Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year on Sunday. Two days later, he established himself as one of the best in Europe. Next step: the world?

On a memorable European night at Anfield, the Egyptian scored twice and made two more goals as Liverpool routed Roma 5-2 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

He now has 43 goals in 47 appearances this season – a record that does not look out of place next to the elite attacking players in the game: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

And there have been calls for him to be the next winner of the most prestigious individual accolade in world football.

“You’ve got to give him the Ballon d’Or,” former Wales midfielder Robbie Savage told BBC Radio 5 live following Salah’s second goal on Tuesday. “He is that good.

“Never mind the PFA Player of the Year, just give him the Ballon d’Or.”

Former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, who was nominated for the award in 1996, described Salah as a “phenomenal player”.

“The form and confidence he’s in at the minute, to have the class and style to score those goals just speaks measures of the man,” Fowler told BBC Radio 5 live.

“The man we all talked about before the game; the man for the big occasion.”

And those big occasions keep on coming. If Liverpool can finish the job in Rome, a Champions League final in Kiev beckons.

Just weeks later, Salah will take his talents to the global stage, when he spearheads Egypt’s attack at the World Cup in Russia.

The stats which keep getting better

  • Salah is the first African player in history to score at least nine goals in a single European Cup/Champions League season.
  • He has scored in each of his past five Champions League starts – the only Reds player to score in five consecutively before the Roma tie was Steven Gerrard between October 2007 and February 2008
  • Salah’s haul of 43 goals is the most by any player in all competitions in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
  • He has surpassed England’s 1966 World Cup-winning hero Roger Hunt (42) in terms of goals in a single season for Liverpool. Only Ian Rush has scored more (47).
  • Salah has scored 10 goals in the Champions League this season – the most, along with Roberto Firmino, by a Liverpool player in a single season in European competition.
  • The Egyptian is just the fifth player in Premier League history to be involved in more than 40 goals in a single season (31 goals, nine assists). Alan Shearer (47 in 1994-95), Andrew Cole (47 in 1993-94), Thierry Henry (44 in 2002-03) and Luis Suarez (43 in 2013-14) are the others.

How Salah compares to the best

Real Madrid forward Ronaldo, Barcelona frontman Messi and Paris St-Germain attacker Neymar are considered by most to be the best three footballers in the world, but how have they fared this season when compared to Salah?

Player Games played Goals Assists Shot conversion rate Chances created Shots on target
Salah 47 43 13 23.89 87 90
Ronaldo 39 42 8 16.22 53 111
Messi 50 40 18 14.81 112 127
Neymar 30 28 16 20.59 98 63

‘He is world class’ – Klopp

Speaking after Tuesday’s game, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Salah is “world class” but might not be the best in the world just yet.

“To be the best in the world maybe you have to do it for a longer period,” said Klopp.

“His first goal is a genius strike, he’s scored a couple like that. The second goal was also great play.

“He is in outstandingly good shape. He is a fantastic player that we are really happy to have. What a player!”

Salah joined the Reds for £34m in the summer from Roma, but Klopp would not acknowledge Tuesday’s result could have been different had the winger stayed put.

“If Neymar didn’t go to PSG, then Phil Coutinho is still here. It’s just if, if, if,” said Klopp.

Speaking on BT Sport, former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said Salah is the “best player on the planet right now”.

‘Magical’ – Pundits’ reaction to sensational night

Commentator Alan Green on Radio 5 live: “I should be ashamed to take money for working tonight. Thank you.”

Former Liverpool midfielder Steve McManaman on BT Sport: “It’s just like a stroll in the park. I’m amazed by this performance tonight. It’s absolutely unbelievable! You just can’t believe it!”

BBC chief football writer Phil McNulty: “Sadio Mane may have let Roma escape but there was no chance of Mo Salah making the same mistake – two bits of magical finishing from the Egyptian.”

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker on Twitter: “Oh Mo. Oh My.”

BBC World Service reporter John Bennett: “If Mohamed Salah keeps this up he’s playing himself into Ballon d’Or contention. And Nobel prize contention. And Pulitzer Prize contention. And Turner Prize contention.”

Former Manchester United and Arsenal striker Robin van Persie was also in awe of Salah

Robbie Savage on Radio 5 live: “Salah has been the best player on the park. Two massive goals, a couple of assists. A standing ovation against his former side, what a player, what a man. Looks like he has put one foot in the final for Liverpool.”

BBC Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas on Twitter: “Wow, all you can eat buffet at Anfield tonight – what an amazing performance by Liverpool!”

Radio 5 live’s European Football Show host Mina Rzouki: “I never imagined Salah was capable of this when he was at Roma. He has truly developed into a sensation at Liverpool and under Klopp. As for Firmino, wow!”

Former Liverpool and Roma defender John Arne Riise on Twitter: “The work-rate and intensity of the Liverpool team is insane! They just don’t stop. The front three are destroying the Roma defence, who can’t cope with the pace and movements.”

Former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt was also celebrating on Twitter

‘The greatest match I’ve seen in 30 years at Anfield’ – Reds fans react

Chris Williams: I’ve been coming to this old stadium for 30 years, both for work and pleasure and this is without doubt the greatest match I’ve ever seen.

Gumbo: Only one word describes watching Mo Salah play football: joy.

Tom: What a goal! Salah really is football’s success story of the season.

Reece: Don’t think I’ve ever loved a footballer as much as I love Mo Salah right now. The guy is a king. Not just an Egyptian one. But a King of Liverpool.

Si: That is why he is player of the year.

Pepe: Salah! I just hit my head on the ceiling and I’ve got 12ft ceilings! I’m only 5ft 9in. Salah, what a strike!

Nii: Please could someone check… is Mo Salah human. Wow, what a goal.

Curt: Mohammed Salah Football Club. That is all… Mohammed Salah Football Club. That is all.

Khanyile: Mo Salah is simply outstanding, even if you don’t support Liverpool you just gotta love him, he is joy to watch, and his humility makes him even more likeable.

Shebab Khan: NEW: Prince William and Kate Middleton have named their third child Mo Salah.

 

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