At this point in time, it seems as though Mohamed Salah is producing goal of the season candidates every single week in the Premier League, goals that leave fans utterly speechless, and gives you a very similar feeling, that another left-footed magician leaves you with.
No one can contest the consistence brilliance of the Egyptian winger ever since his re-entry into the Premier League which, included his record-breaking 32 league goal campaign, back in 2017/2018. But the levels of production and the ruthlessness in front of goal he is now portraying really seems like he has turned a corner in his already sensational career and because of this I believe he should be one of the front-runners for the Ballon d’Or.
One area in which Salah has been heavily critiqued, especially in the time since his unprecedented goal scoring season back in 2018, is his wastefulness in front of goal and his, one could say lack of efficiency in front of goal. But is this criticism fair?
Goal-scoring efficiency is a multi-varied equation, in order to conclude how efficient one is in-front of goal you must first analyse some key figures. These include xG (Expected goals), G-xG (Goals minus Expected Goals), Shot conversion rate and “Big Chances Missed”. Granted this may not be a perfect equation but it is the best way to also to try and give context to these figures in order to give yourself a coherent answer.
|Year||Apps||Goals Scored||Big Chances Missed||Shot Conversion Rate||xG||G-xG|
One thing to point out straight away is, although yes, this season is only a small sample size, what you can already see is how Salah’s conversion rate is comparable and has even surpassed his PFA player’s player of the year winning year. You can also see the time between those years his efficiency dropped off quite considerably, most noticeably during Liverpool’s league winning campaign in 2019/20, there was a staggering, nearly 8% drop off in his conversion rate than from his first season on Merseyside.
So this criticism, you could argue, isn’t exactly harsh on the Egyptian as the numbers clearly point out his decline in efficiency as far as it comes to converting chances.
The other aspects to this equation also not only allude to in an increase in efficiency by Salah but an increase in the quality and absurdity of the goals he is scoring this season. The casing point is his Goals minus Expected Goals. This season he already has accumulated a plus 3.9, thanks to some stunning efforts against Watford and of course his already touted as the runaway goal of the season nominee against the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
The ‘Eye Test’
Albeit the stats are very much in the favour of the Egyptian King the most and despite the fact that analytics are becoming more and more ingrained not only into professional football but the way fans view football also, one thing people mainly go off that is rarely based on club bias is the ‘Eye Test’ and you can certainly say without much of an argument that Salah is as of this moment the most effective player in world football.
Not only is it what he’s doing but also the level of competition he is doing it against whether it be terrorizing the Spanish champions Atletico Madrid in Europe or Joao Cancelo and Aymeric Laporte (arguably two of the best defenders in the world) in the Premier League, at this moment in time no one is safe from the sheer brilliance and nuance of Salah.
Past Ballon d’Or Winners
Apart from the anomaly of Luka Modric winning the prestigious award back in 2018 the Ballon d’Or has been dominated by arguably two of the greatest players to ever grace the pitch Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the pair winning 11 of the last 12.
These two modern greats have permanently altered the way judge who is the best player in the world with the outlandish goals and accomplishments, whether it be 60 or 70 goal seasons, it is without question these two have raised the standards indefinitely for this award and we may never see those numbers ever again. So it would be unfair to compare nominees like Salah to the “video game” numbers of Messi and Ronaldo over the last 12 years, you should only compare with what is around at present.
This is the case that should be made for Salah not to compare his numbers or accolades to the two goal scoring freaks but of the individuals that currently grace the upper echelon of the footballing world today and Salah may very well be at the top of it.