Mohamed Salah: It is not his fault

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One has to be skilful to make Brazilian internationals look like fools. Mohamed Salah managed to do just that ten years ago, at the Olympic Games in London. The only thing that the Brazilian full back Marcello could do, was stand on his toes. Central defender Thiago Silva did not do even that, the Egyptian flashes right past him. It’s 2012 and Salah is full of confidence. He has just signed a professional contract with FC Basel. However, it will take another five years or so before he becomes one of the best players in the world.
A two-time top scorer in the Premier League, Mo Salah has entertained the public with his goal celebrations in recent years. Broad smiles. Sticking his tongue out of the mouth. Arms spread defiantly wide. Or with a bow to Mecca; nose down on the grass.
His yoga pose has become iconic: standing on his right foot only, with the sole of the other pressed to his knee. His eyes closed and his hands clasped in front as if he is praying. Do try this at home. The position symbolizes balance in life, yoga amateur Salah once explained to the English press.
This year he dropped the pose. The Egyptian scores as always, although his team plays poorly most of the time. True there are alot of penalties among his goals but often enough Salah curves his shot into the far corner, inaccessible to the goalkeeper. He hardly ever celebrates these days Sometimes there is time enough for a little high five. But often not even that. Salah quickly picks the ball out of the net. Often, more goals are needed to catch up.
Obviously, there was no one around in the stadium, that Salah could share his joy with. This year he also has to do without the creative admiration songs from the Liverpool fans: If he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim too. In the Spanish sports daily Marca, Salah said at the end of March that he feels that Liverpool is the team that suffers the most from the absence of the fans.
Virgil van Dijk‘s injury has been much discussed, but in front of the goal, the Reds have had had even more serious problems this year. The number of goals scored per match fell from 2.18 last season, to 1.58. Liverpool still shoots on target just as often, but hardly ever with any success: the conversion rate is below 10 percent. The defensive stats are poor also: 1.18 goals per game against, compared to 0.84 in the previous season. The decline at the back is less howver then in the attack.
Instead of Mo Salah, players like Erling Haland and Kylian Mbappé are competing for the status of greatest player nowadays. Sour grapes, for Salah, as he bravely held up this season amid the Liverpool slump. The Reds’ goal scorers list shows that, apart from him, just about every Liverpool star scored less this season, than the season before.
The cheerful Salah is not the man to express his displeasure quickly. The biggest fuss he caused in his career was when het hided in the locker room, supposedly to put on a new jersey, when he should have been shaking hands with the Israeli players of Macabi Tel-Aviv.
This year, his discontent sometimes comes out in the open. When he misses a chance, the Egyptian sometimes screams in sheer frustration. And after a substitution in a game against Chelsea, he walked past coach Jürgen Klopp shaking his head disapprovingly. Right after this his agent Ramy Abbas tweeted a point, triggering speculation. Will there be soon be an end to Salah’s career at Liverpool?
In an interview with Marca, Salah recently did not rule out a departure to Barcelona or Real Madrid, but Klopp does not seem to worry about it. Perhaps this season has another highlight in store for Mo Salah. The 59-time international has announced that he wants to participate with Egypt in the Olympic Games in Japan. It is not inconceivable that he will give his country its first ever Olympic football medal this summer.

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