Written by Written by Joanna Tobin, CNN
Is Liverpool’s Mo Salah the most underrated footballer in the Premier League?
Mo Salah is currently the joint leading scorer in the Premier League alongside last season’s top marksman Kevin De Bruyne. His 21 goals in all competitions for Liverpool and the national team of Egypt — where he plays for the national team — have seen the 25-year-old’s stock rise dramatically across the globe.
Born in the Nile Valley to a middle-class family, Salah struggled to fit in at school, according to his father who used to play professional football. The family eventually emigrated to the United Arab Emirates and Salah would move to Italy to train with the Maccabi Tel Aviv team.
After three years, in which Salah rose through the ranks at the club, he was promoted to the first team, and won two league titles and two Italian Cups, before heading off to England. In just two seasons, he has helped Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table after scoring 42 goals in all competitions. He has also been nominated for the prestigious PFA Player of the Year Award this season.
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But not everyone is completely convinced by Salah’s talent. Ousmane Dembele, one of the best players in Spain’s La Liga, was reportedly snubbed from his summer move to Liverpool.
The French winger is the youngest player to score 20 goals in a La Liga season, and has been a target for several of Europe’s biggest clubs including Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Salah might not be in Dembele’s league — but he is certainly in his own league. The 25-year-old has scored six goals in Liverpool’s first three Premier League games and has an international career that is bound to go far.
“Salah is a power and a playmaker. Everything he touches ends up in the back of the net,” ex-France international and ESPN football pundit, Mikael Silvestre, told CNN. “He has a very complete game that includes high impact attacking play. He is extremely efficient, he is an excellent passer of the ball. That is where he shines. In the middle of the pitch, if the opposition is trying to close him down, they cannot close him down as quickly as you would think because he is so good at finding space.”
Liverpool dominated the Premier League in Salah’s first year at the club, finishing 24 points clear of nearest rivals Chelsea and gaining a cup double in the process.
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The majority of his goals came in 2015/16 season under Brendan Rodgers , who parted ways with the club in 2016. But, despite his outstanding form during the 2015/16 season, the decision not to offer Salah a new contract — along with being unwell and fatigued during the 2016/17 season — led to the player agitating for a move.
Liverpool turned down interest from Chelsea and Real Madrid , among others, before a late-season push saw the Merseyside side splash £34 million ($43 million) to bring Salah to the club.