For the second successive summer transfer window Liverpool showed promptness in signing an African winger, and for the second consecutive summer transfer window, they broke their modest transfer record. In 2016, they had signed Sadio Mane from Southampton. This summer they signed Mohamed Salah from Roma.
The winger that Chelsea had first stolen under Reds’ noses and then offloaded to Serie A in just six months returned to England a more determined man. He had been very successful at both Fiorentina and Roma – 35 goals and 20 assists in 81 appearances for the two teams over two and half seasons. But he was returning to the only country where had failed thus far in his career, albeit over a very short period. He could have been either very nervous or very determined to prove that he could succeed even in the fast-paced Premier League.
What he has shown in the first three months in Premier League is that he came with belief and determination. In these three months, Mohamed Salah has added to the list of Jose Mourinho rejects who have excelled at Chelsea’s Premier League rivals. This post is about the stats that prove that Mohamed Salah, in his current form, is a special player and Liverpool have been extremely smart in signing him.
In his 2 and half years in Serie A, Mohamed Salah was involved in a goal (score or assist) every 111 minutes (only league matches). His goal involvement has improved considerably at Liverpool. In the first eleven games of the league season, he has been involved in a goal every 95 minutes, which is almost a goal or an assist every match.
In fact, if we include Champions League matches, his goal involvement improves further to a goal scored or assisted every 84 minutes. Salah has adopted to Klopp’s system at Liverpool like a fish to water. His ability to leave defenders struggling behind with his pace and guile along with shooting skills have helped him get a better start than most Liverpool forwards in recent history. Only Robbie Fowler – not even Fernando Torres or Suarez – had a better start than Salah’s start at Liverpool. And Fowler is nicknamed God by the Anfield faithful.
Mohamed Salah’s expected goals per 90 minutes ranged between 0.31 to 0.48 in Serie A. Those numbers themselves are pretty good. But over the last eleven league games as a Liverpool player, his expected goals per 90 minutes are 0.69. That is phenomenal.
Similarly, from open play, Salah had expected goals per 90 minutes of 0.41 but in 2017-18, i.e. at Liverpool, it has gone up to 0.61 expected goals per 90 minutes.
Ability to Beat the Opponents
Of his seven Premier League goals in a red shirt, the two most memorable were the counter-attacking goals versus Arsenal and West Ham. Both goals amply highlighted his ability to leave the defenders behind, solely using pace. In addition to pace, Salah also uses guile to flummox opponents and go past them. His dribbles per game have increased from 2.1 and 2.6 per game with Roma to 3.4 per game with Liverpool. If his pecking and impect scores were readily available, these too would have shown a remarkable improvement.
Whether it is a sense of determination to do well in a league where he was deemed a failure in his first outing or whether it is Jurgen Klopp’s system that is designed to suit him, Mohamed Salah is currently easily outperforming his own record from Roma and Fiorentina. If Mohamed Salah can continue in this current vein of form, the £36.9million that Liverpool paid for him will seem like a garage sale deal.