The dream of every player is to find that one special coach who takes him to higher heights, smoothen his rough edges and makes him happy, ultimately. It is somewhat difficult to come across coaches who have the key to unlock the hidden or invisible room which safely holds your true potential. I must say that Mohamed Salah Ghaly and Jürgen Norbert Klopp are a perfect match made in heaven. This combination might be the catalyst for greater fortunes to come for the Liverpudlians.
Jürgen Klopp over the course of his career has proven to have that magic touch of transforming seemingly “average” players into world beaters.
The likes of Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan were virtually unknown players and largely average from Lech Poznan and FC Nurnberg respectively. He did the trick on Mats Hummels, Lukas Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer and Jakub Blaszczykowski to mention a few. Currently, players like Emre Can and Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander Arnold, Andrew Robertson etc. are different beasts under Klopp but one player who stands out is the reigning African Best player, Mo Salah. The Egyptian I am sure does not believe what has happened to him. He has gone from a wide midfielder to a goal-scoring winger known in contemporary football as a wing forward.
When Mo Salah joined in the summer for 42 million Euros that potentially could rise up to 50 million Euros, there were eyebrows raised. The price was perceived to be steep because it eclipsed the club record fee for Andy Carroll back in 2011 when he joined the Reds from the Magpies. Seven months since and no one remembers Salah’s price. No one has doubts about his quality and calling for the player of the year award to go the way of the African.
That is how far he has come this season proven his doubters wrong and leaving everyone is consummate awe. He has managed 34.9% of his total goals and assists in his entire career in the two UEFA competitions (Champions League and Europa) and league games in under eight months of joining Liverpool. 74 goals and 35 assists in 171 games. 29 goals (23 in the Premier League, 6 in the UCL) and 9 assists (8 in the Premier league, 1 in the UCL).
To break it down even further, 39.2% and 25.7% of total goals and assists respectively racked up in his entire career i.e. 29 out of 74 goals and 9 out of 35 assists have all been under eight months of being a Red.
Clearly, Mo Salah is a transformed player and is enjoying his football. It must be noted though that his resurgence began under the tutelage of Luciano Spalletti where he ended last season with 15 goals and 11 assists but it is under Jürgen Klopp that we are witnessing a brand new player under an expansive brand of football. This type of football gives him the freedom to move across the front 3 positions at some points during the course of games simply because Klopp’s style does not require a target man i.e. typical centre-forward like in his former clubs Chelsea, Fiorentina and AS Roma where Diego Costa, Nikola Kalinic and Eden Dzeko respectively occupied the centre-forward spots, so it restricted his movements into the box.
With Liverpool, Roberto Firmino starts as a false 9. This means that he vacates the central position often and it gives Salah the chance to pop up and score most of his goals in that position. This has enhanced his goal per game ratio from 0.44 to 0.85. He has managed a total of 134 shots, of which 65 have been on target and his pass completion has also improved this season with 77%.
He continues to equal or break club and league records. His goal against the Hammers took him to 31 for the season in 37 games equalling Luis Suarez’s record in his final season in 2013-14season though the Uruguayan after missing the first five games due to his ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic, had more assists and created more chances 14 assists and 101 chances created against 9 and 62 chances created by the Egyptian. The same goal was his 20th with his left foot this season, the most by a player in a Premier League season since Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler in 1994-1995 season with 19.
Mo Salah has found that perfect coach in Klopp and I have no doubt he would improve on his weaknesses. One of them being his finishing because he could be very wasteful sometimes but for that, he could easily have bagged 40 plus goals this season already. He ought to be clinical and ruthless to remain a top player. If he can work on that, Africa can dream of a FIFA best player in the future. I know it seems a long shot but it is possible and a lot will depend on how far Liverpool go in the champions and if they can win the league, it would help a lot. That said, Mohamed Salah is transformed and not your run-of-the-mill footballer.