A hallmark of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp has been their psychological strength.
For every curb-ball thrown and every hurdle faced, the Reds have responded like the Champions they are.
After losing the Champions League final in 2018 in the most heartbreaking of fashion, the bones of the same Liverpool squad — minus Emre Can and with the additions of Fabinho, Alisson, and Naby Keita — went one better the next season, defeating Tottenham 2-0 to win their sixth European crown.
The Reds posted the third-highest league points total of all time in the 2018-2019 Premier League campaign, but despite their 97 point haul, still finished runners up to Manchester City by a solitary point.
Much to the surprise of everyone, Klopp kept his powder dry in the transfer market, and questions marks were raised over Liverpool’s squad’s capabilities to compete on all fronts.
But in the most resounding title win in the club’s history, Liverpool amassed 99 points and blew Manchester City out of the water to win their first-ever Premier League title and 19th league title in total.
A player who personifies this never say die resilience is Mohamed Salah.
After winning — in record-breaking fashion over the course of a 38 game season — or sharing the Golden Boot in each of his first two campaigns back in English football, the Egyptian finished fifth in the goal stakes in 2019/2020, finishing with 19 strikes to his name.
With ten assists, though, making him the player with the second-most goals and assists in the league, Salah was arguably a better all-around player, but not winning the top scorer award again — judging by his form in the opening weeks of this season — clearly grates with the 28-year-0ld.
Salah has begun the Reds title defence like a man possessed.
At the time of writing, the former Roma and Chelsea attacker has netted five goals in the opening four games.
An opening day hattrick at home to Leeds was followed up by a brace in the hammering sustained at Villa Park, a game in which — with any other referee than the hapless Martin Atkinson — he could have scored another trio if, as he should’ve been, he was awarded a penalty after coming close to being maimed by two Villa players in the box.
Looking deeper, though, Salah has shown that other elements of his game — attributes often overlooked when assessing the player who, inexplicably, is often thought of as “just a poacher” — are just as impressive as his goal-scoring.
With 3.5 key passes a game, listed as passes that lead to a shot, the number 11 is proving to be an advantageous avenue for the Reds when it comes to linking the play.
Salah, if it wasn’t for the poor finishing of team-mates — think Diogo Jota at home to Arsenal or Roberto Firmino away to Aston Villa — would have registered several assists already this season.
Sadio Mane’s goal at home to the Gunners wasn’t officially awarded as an assist to the 28-year-old. Still, the goal was borne of Salah’s quick thinking, latching onto a free-kick, and physical strength, monstering Arsenal’s Kieren Tierney in a duel, which allowed the Egypt international to fire a shot at Bernd Leno. The German spilt the ball into the path of Mane, and the Reds number 10 tapped into an empty net.
Another game where Salah failed to score, Chelsea away, highlighted his abilities to add creativity to the side and contribute to facets of the game outside goal-scoring.
The Reds killed the game as a contest just after half-time when Mane nodded home Firmino’s cross.
The Senegalese international justifiably deserves the highest proportion of credit for the goal, leaping fantastically and showing an incredible amount of neck strength to redirect a cross that was slightly behind past Kepa.
But it was Salah’s subtle little through ball that released Firmino into an area from where he could cross to Mane.
With a clear individual goal, namely the golden boot that he feels is his by right, to aim for, Liverpool will benefit from a hungry Salah; the player who best represents their culture of excellence.