It was in the 53rd minute at the Brentford Community Stadium when Fabinho gained possession of the ball.
The Brazilian looked around, strode forward, and then chipped a delightful pass over the top of the Brentford defence into the path of Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian took the volley first time, cushioning the ball with the inside of his left foot as it ricocheted off David Raya and into the corner of the net.
It was an exemplary finish from Salah, tucked away with the kind of reliability on the left foot one has come to associate with Lionel Messi. Salah only half-celebrated the moment, as he felt he may have been offside, but this masked the fact that it was a momentous occasion.
Following VAR’s intervention, it was official: Salah was in the 100 goal club in the Premier League for Liverpool alone, no longer requiring the two Chelsea goals from his ill-fated spell in 2013/14 to qualify for the elite group.
Salah now joins the likes of Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler in scoring a century of Premier League goals for Liverpool. But what makes Salah’s achievement all the more remarkable is that it only took him 150 games to reach the landmark figure. Faster than anyone in the club’s history.
Moreover, Salah is now in the club’s top 10 goal-scorers of all time, and isn’t far behind Harry Chambers and Owen. It stands to reason that by the end of the season he could surpass Chambers and climb into ninth position.
Following the game against Brentford, Jürgen Klopp waxed lyrical about his No.11.
“Mo [Salah] is a goal machine, definitely. His professionalism is absolutely second to none. He does absolutely everything to be always fit, to stay always on track — first in, last out, all these kind of things. So, that’s Mo,” Klopp told reporters.
“On top of that, apart from his technical skill-set and all these kind of things, he’s desperate to score goals and that’s helpful as well.
“Whatever you do on the pitch, whatever you create, whatever you initiate, you need somebody who brings the ball over the line or in the back of the net — and Mo is absolutely there with the best I ever saw, he knows that. The numbers he has are insane.
“I’m obviously blessed to work with some good players during my career.”
One doesn’t need the benefit of hindsight to agree that Salah will go down as one of the best — and most astute — buys in club history. Liverpool paid Roma some £34m, plus add-ons, when they signed him in the summer of 2017, a relative bargain when considering what Barcelona forked out for the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembèlè and Antoine Griezmann over the last few years.
In his first three seasons, he registered double digits for both goals and assists, with a slight drop off in the latter column in his fourth season. Last campaign, he carried Liverpool’s goal threat almost single-handedly, as the output of Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino fell off a cliff. Salah netted 22 times in the league last season, more than Mané and Firmino combined.
Salah’s contract is winding down, yet it is expected that the club and player will sit down at some stage to thrash out a new deal that will likely keep him at the club well into his 30s.
Salah’s brilliance shouldn’t be underestimated; the sheer consistency he’s shown since arriving at Anfield can sometimes be taken for granted. Like Lionel Messi in his time at Barcelona, his genius has become so routine that moments of magic almost became normal.
Now, we aren’t comparing Salah to Messi, but Salah’s goal output has been so steady for so long, fans can become accustomed to it, and not fully appreciate what they are seeing.
And should Salah sign that renewal, you really wouldn’t bet against him ending up in the top five, and replacing Gerrard on 186 goals.
Messi might well be the ‘GOAT’. But Salah is the Egyptian King.
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