The Mo Salah debate: Egyptian king or Egyptian egotist?

Article by Liver Bird Spotting.

Salah (7.5) - Perhaps a little harsh given he retained his golden boot but a really patchy season for Salah and one where we’ve seen his ego grow enormously in my opinion. Salah scores bucket loads of goals but his all round game, first touch and passing in particular are often absolutely dismal and his selfishness, especially when going through his goal drought, was really starting to bother me.

No doubt, with twenty two goals and a Champions League winner's medal, Mo’s had a successful season but in my opinion, he still has vast room for improvement in a lot of areas. He’s apparently turned down a move away but will reassess his situation next season. If his ego grows at the same rate in our next campaign as it has in this one, he’ll start thinking he’s bigger than the club and at that point, I would start the bidding at £200 million. Hopefully the individual awards won by Virgil, and Mane matching him for goals, might remind him that there isn’t a ‘main man’ in this team.

Mo-Salah

The above words written by one of our own (no, Harry, not you) Herr JockInTheKop, while summarising all our players in his brilliant 2018/19 overall season's player ratings article. Let’s look at the positives and negatives in Jock’s paragraphs:

Positives
  • Shared golden boot.
  • Bucket loads of goals and a Champions League winners medal.

Negatives
  • Patchy season.
  • Growing ego.
  • All round game, both in terms of selfishness, and ability.

So really the points here are that Salah is a world class goal scorer, but not all the time, and is selfish and below par in most other aspects of his game. Is that good enough for a Champions League winning club? No. However, there is more to consider. Let’s say, hypothetically we sold Salah. He would need replacing of course. Salah is integrated into the squad, so he has the benefit of status quo that all players already in the team have, meaning simply that a new signing always has the potential to upset the apple cart (as Stu knows is an integral part of life that shan't be messed with). Not only that, but the on the pitch synergy our front three possess could suffer and never recover (Salah was the most creative of them last season overall). Also, is it worth it in the long run financially?

Salah is on the level of Messi and Ronaldo in terms of marketable value. We have so many Salah fans who support us by default because of him. We may gain £150-£250 million by selling but would that make up for the inevitable club reach lost? At the very least it would decrease significantly. On the other hand, his ego has gone through the roof as Jock says. The most worrying thing is his attitude. He would get interviewed by pundits throughout last season who would mention his reduced output. His reaction? Butt hurt and defensive. It was always just excuses. 'Oh, but I’m getting marked more, and therefore Mane and Firmino are in more space and getting a greater share of the goals'. No Mo, Firmino’s productivity reduced significantly last season, and Mane picked up the pieces when you were worrying more about your goal count than the three points.

Call me ignorant, maybe Mane was only better because of the extra space, but to me it felt more like he was just sublime on his own. My point is, he never demonstrated a growth mindset, at least it never came across that way.

LFC-shirt-with-Mo-written-on-the-back

The praise from millions seems to have gotten to Mo's head, to the point where he feels he is perfect. He is living in some fairy world of yes men, where no one has the balls to criticise him. I’d like to think this isn’t the case, and that Jurgen wouldn’t allow someone to carry on like this, but he’s pragmatic. He knows an upset Salah is an upset squad, so would never properly confront him. This is what fuels my overall view of his future. He doesn’t seem to fit the Klopp philosophy any more. He’s developed a bigger than the team attitude and seems to get special treatment and I’m not having it.

My point earlier about how a Salah departure could damage the dressing room. I feel it’s more likely to get upset by a Salah stay. You can’t be treading on eggshells all season, something will break. The point about commercial value. That’s also not the Klopp way. You need the right players and the right person first, the rest is a bonus. So, to me something needs to change.

In the 17/18 season we saw the perfect Salah, a ridiculous output and the humblest guy on the pitch. Why was he signed? We thought as a back up to Mane. He wasn’t brought in as the first name on the team sheet, and so was grounded. Then Coutinho’s back gave out and we sneakily sold the injury ridden rascal to Barca ‘4-0’ Lona. After that Salah had no real competition and the problems began. His selfishness developed in the second half of that season, where Premier League games turned into a golden boot race rather than a race for the top four. No one cared then, he was still producing on the pitch, but then the Champions League final and the World Cup dented his confidence. His purple patch ended, but his ego remained. His ego is disproportionate to his actions.

I feel we could get the old Salah back with some genuine competition, to push him without confrontation. The Telegraph said we are looking for one first teamer. Could this be Pepe? If we do sign him could that kick Salah into action? Or do we need to sell him regardless. Vote in the poll on Salah’s future below.

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