He could prove to be the signing of the season.
Not the club record £60 million that Manchester City have parted with to sign Riyad Mahrez—six months after they first wanted him.
Nor the £99.2 million Juventus have splashed to acquire Cristiano Ronaldo, the world number one even if he does turn 34 next birthday.
I am talking about the double Premier League footballer of the year, the king of Egypt Mohamed Salah, who has signed a new contract at Liverpool after his majestic first year there.
It was a campaign which saw him become the first African player to win the honour and incredibly become the first player to score 32 goals in a 38-match Premier League season.
The Premier League betting odds on him now leading Liverpool to their holy grail—a first league title since 1990—are high.
Indeed, many pundits have placed the Merseysiders as second favourites for the Premier League behind last season’s dominant force, Manchester City, who set numerous records on the way to the title.
He clearly was not fit for Egypt in the World Cup, understandably so given his club season ended in heartache with a shoulder injury in the Champions League Final.
However, all football highlights will certainly feature Salah prominently in a month’s time when the new season begins in earnest.
No wonder after he was so instrumental in Liverpool’s run to the showpiece final and fourth place in the Premier League with a prolific scoring record which attracted the attention of Europe’s elite.
Yet, after such a stellar season when he won every individual accolade that put even the sensational Kevin de Bruyne in the shade, there is now a weight of expectation on Mo Salah and Liverpool.
Harry Kane has already challenged Salah to repeat his exploits after the England captain was pipped to the Premier League golden boot honour.
Thirty goals in a 38-game league campaign was Kane’s best ever return, though still not enough to earn the top-scorer prize for the third year in a row after tallies of 25 and 29 in the previous seasons.
There is certainly no suggestion Salah will be a one-season wonder, nor that he will leave Liverpool.
The club is in a position of strength in three ways.
First of all, Salah admits he loves the club and wants to win silverware by staying where he is, not by moving to another heavyweight club.
His commitment to the club will be music to the ears of all Liverpool fans, their manager Jurgen Klopp and teammates.
Secondly, Liverpool do not need to sell the player after their massive January windfall following the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.
Yes, they have recruited Virgil van Dijk, Naby Keita and Fabinho since then and more recruits are expected. However, money does not seem to be an issue for a club which is back in the Champions League next season.
Thirdly, Salah’s new five-year deal does not include a release clause which so many players and agents now insist upon.
Any potential suitor would have to pay an extortionate fee for the Egyptian who forms part of a potent attacking trio.
Roberto Firmino also signed a contract extension in April and Sadio Mane is tipped to follow suit.
Klopp, who insists world-class talent “has a place” at Anfield, perhaps best sums up the approach to the game—an attribute money can’t buy—when he says: “The key thing to remember is the best thing about Mo is that he never sees himself as being more important than the team or anyone else within it.”
“He recognises his teammates and this club helped him achieve individual success last season. He sees the individual awards come because he is part of something bigger that is special.”
“Mo reflects where we are as a team, I think. Last season was special with many special moments—but we want more. We want to be more successful and achieve more together – as the supporters sang so loudly, ‘we’re never gonna stop’. This has to be the attitude individually and collectively.”
So can he repeat or come close to repeating his success or will he find Premier League life more difficult now he is less of an unknown quantity?
From August 11 onwards, we will find out.
One thing is certain.
Moments of exhilarating brilliance that he displayed last season cannot be sustained over nine months unless you have world-class attributes.
Now they have been proven, can he take the next step and join the pantheon of modern day greats by doing it again and again and, crucially, winning silverware?
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