Salah deserves more credit: Neil Humphreys
Even now, Reds star seems to slip below the radar
LIVERPOOL v AC MILAN
( Tomorrow, 3am, Singtel TV Ch 110 & StarHub TV Ch 214 )
Mohamed Salah is a victim of his own shyness. He plays the game, better than just about anyone else, and probably assumes he's doing enough.
But he isn't. He's not feeding the beast of relentless hype and bombast.
There was a time when scoring 100 English Premier League goals was enough to earn a statue outside a stadium or immortality at the very least.
Salah is the leading goalscorer in the most attacking Liverpool line-up since The Beatles and yet still seems a bit like the Reds' Ringo Starr.
When asked if Starr was the best drummer in the world, John Lennon supposedly replied that Starr wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles.
The story is apocryphal - a British comedian actually made the joke - but swop drummers with forwards and the punchline almost works for Salah.
Is he the best finisher in the world? He wasn't even the best finisher at Liverpool until yesterday, according to Jamie Carragher.
On Sky Sports, the pundit finally conceded that Salah was a greater asset than Sadio Mane, a well-meaning, backhanded compliment, dripping in irony.
In the same discussion, Carragher lamented the fact that Salah dips under the radar. But pundits have contributed to this strange phenomenon by understating the Egyptian's contribution and taking his remarkable stats for granted.
Salah scored his 100th EPL goal in 162 games on Sunday, becoming the fifth-fastest player to reach the century mark, behind Alan Shearer, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry.
The 29-year-old has bagged 98 goals for the Reds (the other two were for Chelsea) and has time to overtake Michael Owen (118), Steven Gerrard (120) and Robbie Fowler (128) and become Liverpool's highest league scorer in the EPL era.
In his four years at Anfield, Salah has scored 128 goals in 207 games across all competitions. Nothing about his game belongs below the radar.
AC Milan will certainly pay attention when they head to Anfield for their Champions League Group B opener tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Salah's numbers speak for themselves, even when the man often doesn't. He doesn't seek attention. He hasn't patented a unique goal celebration. He doesn't make aggrandising gestures to the crowd after reaching certain milestones.
He just plays and scores (a lot). He donates to needy causes back in Egypt and lives quietly, allowing himself to slip below the radar, as Carragher recognised.
Indeed Carragher admitted only this week that Salah was Liverpool's most important forward. That's not a criticism of the ex-Reds defender, but a fair reflection of Salah's strange standing within the game.
Even Fifa 22 downgraded his ratings this week. He's not even spared insult in the realm of virtual reality.
In the real world, Salah has topped Liverpool's scoring charts four years in a row, supporting Mane and Roberto Firmino's struggles with either form or fitness.
Perhaps Salah's consistency betrays him. Consistency rarely snatches the spotlight.
Virgil van Dijk suffered a career-threatening injury to underline his value and Alisson scored a stunning, season-defining goal. But Salah just scored goals, regularly and reliably, with little fuss.
Cristiano Ronaldo broke the Internet when he scored for Manchester United. Sergio Aguero broke hearts when he left Manchester City. Romelu Lukaku threatens to break the net every week.
Salah doesn't really break anything, except scoring records, week after week, for a club who still haven't settled his contract negotiations.
Whatever the Egyptian wants, give it to him. In any industry, world-class performers warrant world-class salaries.
His reluctance to dominate headlines should never be confused with his rare ability to dominate the only arena that matters.
It's extraordinary to think that he's not quite getting the credit he deserves, even now, but he'll get it from the right people at Anfield. Milan won't just respect Salah. They'll be utterly terrified of him.