A lot of criticism was laid at Chelsea’s door after selling Mohamed Salah after playing just 19 games for the club.
It was a fair decision at the time, though – Salah rarely looked useful in any of those games, bagging only two goals in his time at Stamford Bridge. They couldn’t have predicted the player that he would become.
But the one that he has turned into is the best player at title rivals Liverpool. Oops.
This isn’t a new discovery or a piping hot take, obviously. Salah’s 126 goals in 204 Liverpool games are exactly why he’s in the very top bracket of Premier League players. As the Reds stumbled in their failed title defence last season, Salah was the only one who even came close to looking like the best version of himself. Virgil van Dijk’s early season-ending injury changed how Liverpool would tackle the year, while Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane failed to step up and help the Egyptian carry the attack.
Salah began the 2021/22 season with a goal and two assists in a 3-0 win at Norwich City, becoming the first player to score on the opening day of five straight Premier League campaigns. And of course, he once again looking a class above every player on the pitch, strutting around as if he owned the Canaries in the same way Luis Suarez used to.
It was regularly put to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool last year that they were ‘bad champions’ because of their pathetic attempts to defend their title. You couldn’t fault Salah, and it’s part of the reason why he’s been the focal point of the club’s most successful era in the 21st century.
Van Dijk looked ropey on his return from injury at Carrow Road (which is understandable), while co-star Mane continues to look like a shell of his former self. Firmino, who did actually manage to find the net, was dropped in place of Diogo Jota.
Salah was the only player at Carrow Road who was both productive and looked like a world-beater. While the Reds are still in the market for another attacker, they also have one of the very best in the world to lead them through what could become a transitional period.
Most of Liverpool’s key men are coming towards the end of their primes, but only one of them has shown in 2021 that they are close to their best – the Egyptian king.