Question marks over Mohamed Salah’s selfishness reared their head once again on Wednesday night when the Liverpool star seemed reluctant to pass the ball in dangerous positions against Brighton.
Salah is firmly in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award and is just three behind leader Jamie Vardy with four matches left to play. There were a few chances at Brighton where he could have passed but went for goal instead.
It sparked debate post-match over whether the ‘Egyptian King’ is too focused on his own goal-scoring numbers and refuses to pass to team-mates as a result of his desire to find the back of the net.
Mohamed Salah sparked discussion over whether or not he is too selfish again on Wednesday
Salah scored a brace at Brighton but was accused of not passing to his colleagues later on
Those were not the views of Graeme Souness though, who hailed Salah’s ruthless streak in attacking positions after he netted yet another brace.
‘He was at it tonight, wasn’t he? From the first minute,’ Souness said on Sky Sports.
‘It’s important to him, you see his reaction when people weren’t finding him late on in the game.
‘He was shooting at every opportunity, his team-mates wouldn’t have been happy on two or three occasions.
‘Tonight he’s been selfish but that’s because he wants that Golden Boot. All goalscorers are greedy at times, I think he takes it to another level.’
Sadio Mane was unhappy when Salah chose not to pass to him in Liverpool’s win at Burnley
Salah was doing all he good to score a hat-trick after netting two in the win at Brighton
PREMIER LEAGUE ASSISTS 19/20
Kevin De Bruyne – 18
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 12
Mohamed Salah – 9
Andy Robertson – 9
David Silva – 9
Adama Traore – 9
Son Heung-min – 9
Harvery Barnes – 8
Riyad Mahrez – 8
Salah’s penchant for scoring himself has caused issues in the past, none more public than with Sadio Mane away at Burnley back in August.
Liverpool were up 3-0 and, bearing down on goal, Salah elected to try his luck himself rather than square unselfishly for Mane, who was still seething when he was taken off and subbed by Jurgen Klopp,
The pair later addressed that the incident was ‘forgotten’ and they have clearly put their issues to one side, combining beautifully to help Liverpool to a first league title in 30 years.
But what do the statistics show about Salah’s willingness to share the glory in front of goal?
Well the former Chelsea star is currently third in the Premier League’s assists table, only behind Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and fellow Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Salah has chalked up nine assists this campaign, the same amount as Andy Robertson, David Silva, Wolves star Adama Traore and Tottenham’s Son Heung-min so clearly he is willing and able to put chances on a plate for his colleagues.
Salah opened the scoring with a fine left-footed finish into the far corner past the goalkeeper
Salah is congratulated by his team-mates for scoring the opening goal of the evening
PREMIER LEAGUE CHANCES CREATED 19/20
Kevin De Bruyne – 115
Jack Grealish – 82
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 80
Emi Buendia – 80
James Maddison – 79
Joao Moutinho – 71
Willian – 67
Lucas Digne – 64
Mohamed Salah – 56
He is also pretty high on the list for chances created this season but someway off the leaders in that category like De Bruyne. The Belgian has a huge 115 chances created this season, way above anyone else.
Salah comes in very far off him with 56, as well as the likes of Jack Grealish (82), Alexander-Arnold (80), Emi Buendia (80), James Maddison (79) and Joao Moutinho (71).
But a deeper dive into Salah’s shooting stats suggest there is an argument that he should go for goal first rather than lift his head up and look for other options.
He has taken 116 shots in the Premier League this season, eight more than his closest rival in Wolves’ Raul Jimenez.
Roberto Firmino (94), De Bruyne (92) and Neal Maupay (89) are the next three on the list but quite a way off Salah.
But the most telling statistic is the short conversion rate.
Salah has the fourth best in that area among the top 10 in the Premier League with 16.38.
Only Raheem Sterling (16.87), Marcus Rashford (18.07) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (23.81) have higher conversion rates than Salah.
That shows there is not much room for complaint when Salah is as reliable as he is in front of goal.
Salah tries to tuck an effort into the far corner but couldn’t squeeze it round the goalkeeper
Jurgen Klopp appears to have no issues with his talisman doing all he can to score more goals
PREMIER LEAGUE TOTAL SHOTS AND SHOT CONVERSION 19/20
*Shot conversion rate in brackets
Mohamed Salah – 116 (16.38%)
Raul Jimenez – 108 (13.89%)
Roberto Firmino – 94 (8.51%)
Kevin De Bruyne – 92 (11.96%)
Neal Maupay – 89 – (10.11%)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 84 (23.81%)
Marcus Rashford – 83 (18.07%)
Raheem Sterling – 83 (16.87%)
Gabriel Jesus – 83 (13.25%)
Richarlison – 82 (13.41%)
In fact, after Wednesday night’s win at the Amex Stadium, Salah now has an astonishing 100 goal involvements in 104 Premier League appearances.
He has 73 goals and 27 assists, becoming just the fourth player to do so for the Reds after Steven Gerrard (212), Robbie Fowler (158) and Michael Owen (148)
And Salah’s motives in front of goal are obviously not an issue for his manager Jurgen Klopp, who hailed is star man after another mercurial display
‘He’s a striker, how can it not be a motivation for him? That’s clear,’ the German said after the match.
‘In the last two years he won the Golden Boot, last year he shared it with Sadio and with Auba. That’s always important, it’s important for Sadio and all that stuff is normal.
‘In the end you can only score goals when you perform well and he did that so that was really good and apart from that it’s all fine.
‘If you are too focused on goals, not that they are, but if you are too focused on goals you don’t move enough that you can be in the right situations but the goals he scored were really good and he had a lot to move and score the goals.
‘That’s nice, could have scored more, that’s true, but that’s pretty much all.’
There is no denying Salah could sometimes try and pick out a team-mate in a better position.
But with 94 goals in 148 appearances for the Reds since joining in the summer of 2017, you cannot argue that he has every right to go for goal as often as possible.
If it were not for Salah’s relentless performances over the past three years, it is doubtful the Reds would have reached the summit of domestic and European football.
Liverpool fans should be careful what they wish for. If Salah is told to pass too often, he may starting questioning those attacking instincts that have served him so well.