The Egyptian forward is now 31 years of age, but he is showing no sign of slowing down. Salah has broken through the 30-goal barrier in four of his six seasons at Anfield – with nine efforts to his name this term – and is considered to boast similar genetics to evergreen Portuguese legend Ronaldo, in that he could easily play on towards and into his 40s.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Liverpool boss Klopp has said of Salah’s somewhat unique physical make up: “Off the pitch he behaves like a grown-up man, besides that he is just still a young player. It’s like that. He’s top fit. I think if we would really scan him, the majority of his bones are probably 19 or 20, because he just keeps himself in such a good shape. No, it’s with game understanding. That’s what we try to give young players. So, they all know an awful lot about football when they finish their career at 35, but the earlier you can get this information the more useful it is.
“Obviously with Mo that’s clear, he understands the spaces much better, he knows how players react to him, and then if he cannot score he can still be a threat for us, and that’s really super-important. How I said, the Everton game obviously will not go down in history performance-wise, but then scoring two goals is massive. In other games, playing much better and not scoring but being constantly a threat, is for us as important because that really opens up spaces for all the other boys. You might be right, but I cannot compare Mo to other 30-odd-year-old players because I don’t think biologically he is [30s]!”
WHAT THEY SAID
Salah has also made subtle tweaks to his game down the years, with the current version of the African icon not the same as the one that arrived on Merseyside in 2017. Klopp added on those changes: “The young Mo was a super-fast player who could go in behind, played at Roma together with [Edin] Dzeko. Dzeko controlled the ball or deflected it and Mo was there, stuff like this. Here, from the first day he had to do different things. He adapted extremely well. But the playmaker in that front row was probably more Bobby [Firmino] setting things up.
“And you don’t need then two players who are a bit deeper; it’s not that good anyway because you need players in the box, you need players who bring the ball over the line. Now it’s slightly different, especially with Darwin [Nunez] when he is playing, we have another speed player up there. So that changed Mo’s position, definitely, and he is smart enough to adapt to all these different things. Yes, massive development since he arrived, but he was in all phases world-class – and that is probably the best you can say about a player.”
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Salah has registered 195 goals for Liverpool through 317 appearances – claiming three Premier Golden Boots along the way – and is now the all-time leading scorer in European competition for an English club after registering his 43rd continental strike in a Europa League win over Toulouse. It remains to be seen how many more he has left in him as a move to join Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia continues to be speculated on – with talk of a £200 million ($242m) transfer fee doing the rounds.