After becoming the fifth player in Liverpool’s history to reach 200 goals in all competitions, we look at the numbers behind Mohamed Salah’s fruitful Anfield career.
Speaking to the media after Liverpool had missed out on signing Basel winger Mohamed Salah in January 2014, Brendan Rodgers was disappointed.
He had wanted to boost his attacking options with the young, exciting and rapid Salah, but rivals Chelsea denied him with a bigger bid for the Egyptian.
“The club did everything they felt they possibly could to get a deal, but it wasn’t to be,” Rodgers said.
In a further bitter twist, Salah played against Rodgers’ side at Anfield a few months later in a win for José Mourinho’s men that ultimately cost Liverpool the 2013-14 Premier League title.
Who knows if having Salah could have made the vital difference for Liverpool? Though their attack of Luis Suárez, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling had otherwise performed pretty well until that point.
Salah’s move to Stamford Bridge didn’t work out. He made just 19 appearances (10 starts) for Chelsea, scoring only twice before being shipped out on loan to Fiorentina and then Roma.
Rodgers had said “It wasn’t to be”, and that came to pass in every sense. Salah didn’t arrive in 2014, and neither did the Premier League title.
Fast forward to 2023 and the Egyptian has won a Premier League title with Liverpool, along with several other trophies, and has become just the fifth player in the club’s history to score 200 goals.
It ultimately was to be, it just took a while.
Rodgers’ successor Jürgen Klopp had to be convinced by Liverpool’s data experts to take a chance on Salah in 2017. He reportedly wanted to sign Julian Brandt from Bayer Leverkusen instead, but the club’s scouting team were sure Salah was more suited to what the team needed. Klopp trusted their judgement, and it paid off big time.
Despite now being heralded as one of the greatest goalscorers of his generation, Salah had actually never hit 20 goals in a season in his career prior to moving to Anfield. The best he’d managed was 19 for Roma during his last campaign in Italy; having spent over six years at Liverpool since, he has never scored fewer than 23 in a campaign, recording 30 or more in four of them.
That is down to his sheer talent but also a change in approach once Klopp got hold of him. While he had been a fairly direct winger at Roma, he hadn’t been taking as many shots, recording just 2.3 attempts at goal per 90 minutes in 2015-16 and 3.0 the following season. That rose to 4.3 in his first season at Liverpool and has never been lower than 3.3 per 90 in a campaign since.
Salah returned to England with a bang, determined to show his time at Chelsea was not indicative of his quality. He scored 44 goals in his first season with Liverpool, an all-time record for the club in a debut campaign, while it also made him one of only three players to net 40+ goals in a season for them, along with Ian Rush (twice) and Roger Hunt.
And while he hasn’t quite reached those exceedingly high levels again, he has remained more than potent in front of goal. Since Salah signed for Liverpool in 2017, only Robert Lewandowski (275), Kylian Mbappé (230) and Harry Kane (203) have scored more goals than him of players to feature in Europe’s top five leagues.
He already has 14 this season, and with his goal against Crystal Palace, he became just the fifth player to score 200 for Liverpool after Rush (346), Hunt (285), Gordon Hodgson (240) and Billy Liddell (228). He’s likely another season away from catching Liddell, while threatening Rush’s overall record seems fanciful at best.
Typically, the ever-confident Salah seems to think he has a chance. Speaking to Bangladeshi media outlet Prothom Alo at the start of the season, Liverpool legend Rush said: “I speak a lot to Mo Salah… Mo keeps saying ‘why did you score so many goals?’ He is thinking he might break my record.”
It would be a big ask and take many more games. Rush played 660 matches to reach his figure, more than double Salah’s appearances for the club to date. However, on his current trajectory, he would equal the record after around 564 games. So, it would take at least four more seasons.
Is that the sound of Liverpool’s contract negotiators cracking their fingers?
Breakdown of Salah’s goals
There have been some memorable Salah goals among his 200. Scoring a vital away goal against Manchester City in the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League quarter-final, converting an early penalty against Tottenham in the 2018-19 Champions League final, and his late breakaway goal against Manchester United in the 2-0 win at Anfield as Liverpool marched towards their first Premier League title in 2019-20, to name a few.
What is the breakdown of all 200 goals, though? Well, 162 have been with his trusty left foot, 30 with his right and just eight with his head. He has been a fox in the box, with 187 of them coming from efforts inside the penalty area and just 13 outside, and he has been slightly more productive in the second half of games, scoring 112 after the break, with 88 arriving before the half-time whistle.
It’s a similar split in terms of goals at and away from Anfield, with 111 being scored at the iconic home of Liverpool FC and 89 in other stadia. He has often scored crucial goals too, with 56 of them being opening goals and 55 being winners.
Sixteen of Salah’s Liverpool goals have come via his five hat-tricks for the club. That includes his four-goal performance against Watford at Anfield on a snowy day in March 2018, when he became one of only four players to score four in a Premier League match for Liverpool, while he has recorded 30 braces. He has also converted 30 penalties out of 36 attempts (not including penalty shootouts).
Of his 200 goals for Liverpool, 148 have come in the Premier League, 42 in the Champions League, five in the FA Cup, three in the UEFA Europa League, one in the EFL Cup and one in the Community Shield. Salah has also now forced his way into the top 10 of the Premier League’s all-time leading scorers.
The team to suffer most at the hands (or feet) of Salah is Manchester United. He has hit 12 against Liverpool’s old rivals, and 11 against Manchester City. The only other team he has put double figures past is West Ham (10). Salah is deadly against pretty much everyone, though; he has scored against every single club he has faced more than twice as a Liverpool player.
More than 10% of Salah’s Liverpool goals have been assisted by Roberto Firmino (21); only Steve McManaman has assisted a teammate more in all competitions in the Premier League era for the club (24 for Robbie Fowler).
With former partners in crime Firmino and Sadio Mané (12 assists for Salah, the second most) now gone, the Egyptian has had to find new friends and developed a dynamic partnership with Darwin Núñez. The former Benfica striker has already assisted Salah nine times, four of which have come this season. Of current Liverpool teammates, only Andrew Robertson has more assists for Salah (11), and they’ve played alongside each other since 2017.
Salah’s current deal at Liverpool runs to the summer of 2025. Rumours of a potential move to the Saudi Pro League are unlikely to go away any time soon, but while he remains at Liverpool, who knows how many more goals he can score?
The 31-year-old backs himself and gets that backing in return from the fans. You get the feeling that as long as he has a Liverpool shirt on, he will continue to believe he can reach Rush’s record.
They may have missed out on him in 2014, but it’s doubtful Liverpool fans would want to change a thing about Salah’s Anfield career.