Salah deserves more credit for keeping Reds' top-4 hopes alive: Richard Buxton
Egyptian striker's scoring exploits overshadowed by the Reds' injury-plagued season
Failing to fully appreciate greatness seems a recurring theme in Liverpool's rich history.
Only the increased passing of time sees the overarching impact of many club legends become clear, often long after they have taken a final walk through the Shankly Gates.
Ian St John's death earlier this week brings into sharp focus the Reds' need to treasure those who don their famous shirt before their careers invariably fade into the archives.
As the man who scored the goal which clinched Anfield's long-awaited first FA Cup triumph, the late Scotland international became immortalised at his former club.
But it was not always this way. Indeed, it still isn't.
Mohamed Salah now stands where St John once did; another Liverpool record signing whose ruthless eye for goal will not be truly acknowledged until it has disappeared.
In a season when little has gone right for the fallen English Premier League champions, the temptation to pine for absentees rather than those fully present is understandable.
Juergen Klopp's side continue to struggle with losing its entire defensive heart yet Salah's exploits offer genuine hope that a top-four finish remains very much attainable.
Fittingly, the Egyptian heads into the clash with fellow Champions League qualification hopefuls Chelsea tomorrow morning (Singapore time) tied with St John on 118 goals.
Salah's ability to raise the bar of his attacking cohorts is also eerily striking with the impact that his 1960s predecessor had on Liverpool's front line under Bill Shankly.
Anfield's modern godfather credited St John as being a "turning point" for his side's transformation into a dominant force of English football and latter on the continent.
Comfortably plundering double figures each season at his peak tells barely half the story. Those around him equally flourished with Roger Hunt's tallies markedly improved.
Salah, similarly, has helped boost Sadio Mane's numbers to double his previous return.
The 28-year-old himself performs on a consistently high level, matching Ian Rush in breaking the 20-goal barrier in four consecutive seasons while simultaneously heading for a third EPL Golden Boot during that same period as things stand.
And yet, there is still an underlying sense that he is unlikely to receive due acclaim from The Kop, let alone the game's general populous, until he is no longer gracing its stage.
Even before Salah’s refusal to rule out a potential defection to Real Madrid or Barcelona if either came calling, starryeyed Liverpool fans had earmarked him for departure should Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland set their hearts on a move to Merseyside.
Accusations of selfishness are routinely levelled at the ex- Chelsea misfit. He should supposedly be more giving and allow Mane and Roberto Firmino to bury the chances.
Without the forward’s innate ability to find the target, however, Liverpool’s hopes of spending a fifth consecutive year in the Champions League would not still hang in the balance this late into a campaign which some supporters already sought to write off.
St John famously became both the cornerstone and first casualty of Shankly’s dynasty.
Barely six years on from his crowning moment, the marksman left to minimal fanfare as the once imperious team he had spearheaded underwent a belated regeneration phase.
Times clearly change but if Salah helps to maintain an unbroken spell dining at Europe’s top table since 2017, Liverpool will not be able to simply usher him quietly out the door.
LIVERPOOL v CHELSEA
(Tomorrow, 4.15am, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)