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No new contract but Salah's Liverpool form shows no sign of slowing as Manchester City loom

08:00 BST 03/10/2021
Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2021-22
The Reds' Egyptian star is playing as well as he ever has, despite talks over a new deal being yet to reach a successful conclusion

It’s been another productive week for Liverpool’s Egyptian King.

Another game, another goalscoring masterclass. More records, more milestones, more weight to the theory that Mohamed Salah really does deserve his place among the all-time greats.

“Exceptional,” Jurgen Klopp called him. Jordan Henderson went for “incredible”. They ran out of superlatives at Anfield a long time ago, where Salah is concerned.

How about “relentless”, perhaps? Four years into his Reds career, he is showing no sign of slowing down. If anything, Salah is playing as well for Liverpool now as he ever has.

And what a scary thought that is for defences.

Already this season he has eight goals and three assists. Last weekend at Brentford he moved into the Reds’ all-time top 10 goalscorers, while becoming the fourth-fastest player in Premier League history to reach 100 goals for a single club. Only Alan Shearer, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero sit above him on that list.

On Tuesday night he was at it again, his two goals at Porto moving him to 31 Champions League goals. In terms of African players, only Didier Drogba has more. In terms of Liverpool players, only Steven Gerrard does.

The numbers are absurd; 133 goals in 211 appearances for Liverpool, as well as 45 assists. Only Gordon Hodgson, the Reds’ great centre-forward of the 1930s has a better goals-per-game ratio, and nobody has reached 100 league goals for the club quicker.

Fittingly, his goal against Brentford saw him break Roger Hunt’s record in that regard. Hunt, who passed away on Tuesday aged 83, would certainly relate to Salah’s hunger, drive and single-mindedness.

They may have come from different worlds, and played in different eras, but their names most definitely belong alongside one another, together with the likes of Hodgson and Ian Rush, Gerrard and Kenny Dalglish, Billy Liddell and Robbie Fowler.

Liverpool greats, unquestionably.

Where will it end, for Salah? He will already have his eye on the next rung of the ladder, for sure. Nineteen more goals will take him past Harry Chambers on the Reds’ all-time list, and 26 will see him surpass Michael Owen. He could reach both this season, the way he is playing. After that, there are only the Gods to catch; Dalglish, Fowler, Gerrard, Liddell, Hodgson, Hunt and Rush.

No wonder fans are so desperate for him to sign a new contract with the club. Salah’s current deal expires in the summer of 2023, and as yet there has been no breakthrough in negotiations, despite confidence from Liverpool sources that an agreement will be reached.

It would be a huge contract, the biggest in club history, but if anyone justifies such an outlay it is Salah. And if there are any concerns that the situation may distract the player or affect his performances, they are being soothed every time he steps onto the field.

His consistency is remarkable. He plays every week and he scores every week; in each of his four completed seasons on Merseyside, he has managed 48 or more appearances and scored 23 or more goals in all competitions. In the last four Premier League campaigns, he has completed at least 3000 minutes. There are few more durable, devastating, decisive footballers around.

“He has been incredible ever since he came to the club,” said Henderson last week. “He is a fantastic lad, he works ever so hard off the training field, recovers properly, lives his life the right way to be ready every single game to perform every game. 

“He gets his rewards for that, he’s been phenomenal. And hopefully he can just continue to do that for us this season and beyond.”

Klopp will certainly hope so. The Reds boss knows that his team’s ambitions rely heavily on the form and fitness of a handful of key players, of which Salah is arguably the most important of all. Without his goals, and without his smartness and work-rate and relentless belief, Liverpool are not Premier League or Champions League contenders, it’s as simple as that.

“His numbers are insane, incredible,” Klopp smiled after the Brentford game, before pointing out that Salah would likely be stewing over the chances he had missed that day, rather than the one he had taken. 

Sure enough, three days later in Portugal, Salah made amends. Two shots, two goals. His face when substituted midway through the second half suggested he had more than half an eye on the hat-trick, too.

“That’s Mo,” smiled Klopp, who both understands and encourages Salah’s single-minded approach. He wants to be the best, and by striving to be the best, he drives Liverpool’s collective level up.

It is no coincidence that since his arrival from Roma in 2017, the Reds have developed into one of the world’s great club teams. Salah’s standards, along with those of Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, have helped push Klopp’s side to remarkable heights; Champions League glory in 2019, the Premier League title following year. World champions, record breakers, history makers, and all with a smiling, softly-spoken Egyptian at the heart of it.

Next on Salah’s radar, Manchester City. A blockbuster Anfield clash which should tell us plenty about the aspirations of the last two title-winners. 

Win, and Liverpool move four points clear of the reigning champions heading into the international break. Lose, and City move top of the table having already been to both Stamford Bridge and Anfield. Pep Guardiola’s side would fancy their chances from there.

Salah has hurt them in the past, though, and you would not bet against him doing so again this weekend. 

The big stage is made for big players, and there are few bigger than Liverpool’s No.11.

Whatever he wants in that new contract, he’s worth it.