MO SALAH'S GOAL SCORING FEATS MAKE HIM THE FAVOURITE FOR THE PREMIER LEAGUE'S BEST EVER WINGER

have been on a tear this season, jostling for the summit of the right from the off. They currently sit 2nd after a spirited 2-2 draw with Manchester City last night but the talk since then has all been dominated by one man.

 

Mohamed Salah set up the first for Sadio Mane before scoring one of the goals of the campaign till now. He evaded four defenders through his exceptional close control skills on the ball while running into the box which allowed him to make room for his shot that was beautifully taken on his “weaker” foot.

 

However, the talk surrounding it all has not been only about the strike but the fact that how regular they have become for the Egyptian. Klopp serenaded him with the moniker of “world class” and the stats do make a very valid point. Salah’s remarkable consistency in front of goal, especially given the fact that he is not the central striker of his team speaks volumes of his talent.

 

To make a long introduction short and addressing the elephant in the room- is Salah the best Premier League winger ever?

 

FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS SINCE 2017

The key question before all of this begins has to be- can Salah really be called a winger in the traditional sense of the position? In the 4-3-3, he is the furthest player forward on the right flank along with moving through centrally too when required. Gone are the days of 4-4-2 where the erstwhile superstars played.

 

, , and the man with whom Salah’s impact is most often compared, . Whatever your standing on this issue may be, Salah remains a winger in the modern game who does not play as the central striker.

 

Now, moving onto the numbers that everyone is so crazy about when it comes to the title of best winger ever. Salah joined Liverpool in the summer of 2017 and since then has amassed 137 goal contributions (101 goals, 36 assists). The next best during the same period is from Harry Kane with 110 contributions (88 goals, 22 assists).

 

Mind you, out of those 22 assists, 14 came last season so he has not been the greatest facilitator of goals before that. Salah’s debut season remains the greatest of his career so far (which had a big hand in bestowing the ‘one season wonder’ tag on him). 32 goals (most in a 38-game season) and 10 assists saw him sweep up the end of season awards.

 

Premier League Player of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year, FWA Player of the Year along with the Golden Boot. Since then, his form has continued unabated with 22, 19, and 22 goals in the three completed seasons. Salah’s 8.74 touches in the opposition’s penalty area, 11.38 progressive passes received and 0.51 npxG (all P90) put him in the top 98-99th percentile of players in his position across Europe.

 

He is also a more than reliable passer, having an average of 78% accuracy along with 78 goal-creating actions in the last four seasons.

 

BEST EVER IN THE LEAGUE?

Coming to Salah’s historic competition amongst the pantheon of Premier League greats, Hazard comes the closest. The Belgian spent seven seasons with Chelsea which produced 85 goals and 54 assists. The Blues’ formation back then meant that there was no front-three to speak of. Hazard with a left winger who loved running with the ball and getting his shots away, sometimes in spectacular fashion.

 

His passing accuracy was a shade over 80% on average but he shot much less than Salah did. Like the Egyptian, Hazard had also won the troika of awards given for individual excellence barring the Golden Boot. He was also involved in more shot-creating actions (180 and 206 in between 2017-19) which spoke of his immense value to the Blues along with winning the Playmaker of the Season in 2019 for his 15 assists.

 

However, his output never came close to matching that of Salah’s with but his form was incredible nevertheless.

 

Ronaldo is back in the Premier League but he has long become a striker who plays through the middle as the main goal scorer. During his first spell with the Red Devils, he was an out-and-out winger, supporting the two main strikers up front. Ronaldo took some time to get going in a new country, before truly exploding over the final three seasons.

 

66 out of his 84 goals and 20 out of 34 assists came during this time but it was the 2007-08 campaign that really stood out. Considered one of the greatest individual seasons for a player, Ronaldo had 31 goals and six assists as Manchester United won the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League along with the Ballon D’Or, FIFA World Player of the Year, Golden Boot, European Golden Shoe, Premier League Player of the Year, and the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

 

Nevertheless, his subsequent goal scoring records and setting of records saw him become one of the greatest players ever. But as far as wingers in the Premier League go, Ronaldo’s one stupendous season does not put him on the same pedestal of consistency.

 

Giggs’ time in England was not the age of prolific wingers season in and season out. Indeed, he only hit double digits twice in 1993-94 and 1995-96 but he did score in 22 consecutive seasons since his debut. Giggs was more adept at providing assists, with 162 which is a current record. Like Ronaldo, the Welshman was the traditional presence on the left wing marauded up and down the flank.

 

Giggs won the PFA Young Player of the Year (twice), PFA Players’ Player of the Year along with a whole host of awards for his longevity at the top. However, Giggs remains best known as a serial winner with his team and a leader/mentor for the squads over the many, many years.

 

Giggs’ national compatriot for Spurs was one of the hottest sensations during his ascent to a worldwide name. Bale started off his career at left-back but quickly transitioned to attacking winger as the years went by. His final three seasons are what he is most remembered by, especially the 2012-13 campaign.

 

Bale scored 21 times and provided four assists as he went onto be named the Premier Player of the Season, PFA Players’ Player of the Season, FWA Footballer of the Year and the PFA Young Player of the Year. He can be termed as a one season wonder in the Premier League given that it was on the basis of that which made Real Madrid sign him and it was in Spain that Bale made a long-lasting name for himself as one of the best.

 

IS SALAH TREATED UNFAIRLY?

With Salah’s superb form on show since he came to Anfield, there’s a growing feeling that he has not got the recognition he deserves. When one talks of the best players in the world currently, the perennial names of Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe are mentioned all the time.

 

However, the mercurial winger has been the best in his position for a number of years and showed a lot of form when he was in Roma as well. Much like Robert Lewandowski who has been the top number 9 of the past few years consistently, Salah deserves to be in the same bracket. Both are at the peak of their powers ever since coming to their respective clubs but does the British media judge Salah more harshly?

 

There is certainly a case to be made for taking his abilities and prowess for granted at times. The kind of attention that Kane commands is not something that Salah does as the former is English of course. Salah became the fastest player to reach 100 goals for Liverpool which is no mean feat given the names that have represented them since its inception.

 

He is the best winger on current form and has been for a while, which is a shame as how it is only being talked about now.

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