Mo Salah’s numbers are spectacular and THAT Man City goal will go down in history… but with Rush, Hunt and Co icons in their own right, is he now the greatest striker Liverpool have ever had?
- Mohamed Salah’s goal against Manchester City was a stroke of solo brilliance
- The Egyptian is breaking records at Anfield and is debated to be the best ever
- Liverpool have had a string of heroes throughout their illustrious football history
- Sportsmail experts get to the heart of the debate regarding where Salah now sits
There is one man who is the talk of the Premier League right now, as he has been many times before.
With his magical, mesmerising run and goal against Manchester City the Egyptian proved once again why he is held up against the finest players to ever play the sport.
No debate will be had on the topic of whether Salah goes down as a Liverpool legend and one of the most impressive stars to ever pull on the famous red shirt… but is he the greatest forward of them all?
Mohamed Salah’s magical run and finish against Man City has triggered a debate on his status
Today’s game is quicker and defenders are better…
There was the shot that Kenny Dalglish bent past Everton’s Neville Southall 20 seconds into the 1985 Goodison derby and Ian Rush’s remarkable propensity for scoring against the neighbours at Wembley. But where, down the long years of sublime Liverpool finishing and finishers, has there ever been a goal as wondrous as the one that cut Manchester City apart on Sunday?
Employing such a finish as evidence that Salah is Liverpool’s all-time greatest striker will no doubt invite reminders that there was a world before the Premier League.
But for a fifth consecutive season, Salah is breezing through multi-million pound defences as if they are not there. It’s beginning to feel a lot like longevity and the technical challenge of the defenders he has been up against is certainly greater than anything Dalglish and Rush ever knew.
Salah (right) is playing in an era which is faster than ever and defenders have got tougher
There were times, after long European away trips in the early 1980s, when Liverpool’s players were instructed to slow the game down and rest up. Midfielder Craig Johnston was actually substituted on one such occasion, against Sunderland, for being too busy.
Graeme Souness took the squad out on the ales on the afternoon of a midweek game at Middlesbrough, after Liverpool had won the league in 1982. They still got a draw. That kind of a breeze is beyond all comprehension in the international Premier League, where millions are at stake.
Yet Salah’s goalscoring remains relentless – one every 1.5 games. That’s double Dalglish’s rate and considerably better than Rush, whose final tally was one every 2.05 games.
The late Roger Hunt maintained a Salah-sized goals per game ratio across 11 years and more than 400 appearances, though in his first three seasons Liverpool were in the second division.
Rush got past 19 goals in four of his 14 seasons with Liverpool. Salah has not yet failed to hit that target in his four seasons for the club and with nine from nine this season does not seem destined to fail in his fifth. Half a decade is long enough to lay claim to supremacy.
But Salah also brings a capacity to provide goals which arguably only Dalglish, among the strikers, has matched down the years.
The manoeuvring of the ball beyond the otherwise excellent Joao Cancelo and into the path of Sadio Mane, for Sunday’s first Liverpool goal against City, said everything.
It was reminiscent of Dalglish, whose team-mates will tell you that the football pitch was always a different environment when he played. Salah’s contemporaries make the same observation. He has also been confronted by a psychological challenge which his Liverpool forebears never knew.
Dalglish and Rush both joined a club for whom domestic supremacy was such an immutable process that complacency was the only enemy. The Egyptian, meanwhile, joined a club haunted by the 30-year wait for domestic supremacy.
Salah will never reach Rush’s goal tally. He will never hold a candle to Dalglish’s place at the beating heart of Anfield. But for sheer, unalloyed attacking genius, make no mistake. He is the best.
2 – Kenny Dalglish
King of the creators yet also a simply exquisite scorer of goals from all over the pitch.
3 – Ian Rush
He pressed before it came into fashion and was often unplayable in his first Liverpool spell.
4 – Roger Hunt
Extraordinary consistency. A goal every 1.66 games across 404 appearances.
5 – Michael Owen
Breathtaking in his early years. The only Liverpool player to have won the Ballon d’Or.
‘NO, HE’S NOT’ – DOM KING
Sorry, but Rush will always be No 1…
It is what makes the sport so special: the moment.
From nowhere, in any match, there can be a starburst of brilliance to leave everyone who is watching wide-eyed in wonder.
Those illuminations were everywhere on Sunday, during a remarkable collision between Liverpool and Manchester City, but never more so than in the 76th minute when Mo Salah’s escapology and sorcery saw him score one of Anfield’s greatest ever goals.
But was this Salah stamping himself as Anfield’s greatest ever goalscorer? No.
Ian Rush scored goals at a prolific rate for Liverpool and was the leading light for the Reds
Salah can lay claim to being the best forward to have played for Liverpool in the Premier League era and not just because of the volume he has scored.
He is always there in the games that matter, dead-eyed and ruthless. If you needed someone to hit the target to save your life, you pick him.
The same, however, was true of Ian Rush.
It has been an emotional week for Liverpool, one in which they bade farewell to Roger Hunt. This standard bearer scored his last goal at Anfield in 1969 but the importance of his place in the club’s history was reflected by the front cover of Sunday’s programme being dedicated to him, along with a mosaic on The Kop.
Rush didn’t just beat Hunt’s tally of 285 goals, he smashed it to smithereens. It carried personal huge significance, too, as Hunt was Rush’s father’s hero. When he left Liverpool in 1996 with 15 major honours including five league titles, the Welshman’s tally stood at 346.
The fact that Salah is spoken about along with Rush at Liverpool shows what he has achieved
That figure, as much as Salah is doing his best to get close to it, will never be surpassed.
The very fact Salah is being mentioned alongside these giants shows the staggering impact he has made since arriving from Roma in 2017 but we cannot say that he has overtaken Rush, whose goals came over two spells – his peak years being from 1980 to 1987 (207 in 331 appearances) before making a £3.2million move to Juventus.
From European Cup semi-finals to FA Cup finals, if Liverpool needed a goal, only one man was required. There is a good reason that a song is still being sung on The Kop, handed down the generations, with the lyrics ‘all you need is Rush’.
This was a man blessed with a sprinter’s pace, who made the pressing of defenders and goalkeepers an art form before it became hip to discuss it. He had a telepathic understanding with Dalglish, movement that carried him into the areas that defenders couldn’t defend.
‘And what you have to remember is he was playing at a time when defenders could get away with assault in the first 20 minutes,’ Mark Lawrenson, his old team-mate, explains.
From European Cup semi-finals to FA Cup finals, if Liverpool needed a goal Rush delivered
‘The pitches he played on were awful and, funnily enough, our team wasn’t set up to just attack like this one is now.
‘He was our safety blanket. You would be in a game, not playing well, but you knew that one chance to Rush and that was it – goodnight, God bless. How would he do if he was playing now? On perfect pitches when defenders couldn’t go near him? Crikey O’Reilly! He’d be unstoppable.’
And he was unstoppable. Salah might have entered the Hall of Fame, but the place at the summit belongs to one man only.
Ian Rush is Liverpool’s greatest goalscorer. He will carry that label forever.
2 – Roger Hunt
One of the men who changed Liverpool’s history in the 1960s.
3 – Mo Salah
A transformative signing whose contract must be extended.
4 – Luis Suarez
So good for two years that his presence guaranteed Liverpool would win.
5 – Robbie Fowler
It should never be forgotten how good he was in those first few prolific years.
HERE’S WHAT SPORTSMAILS OTHER EXPERTS THINK…
JEFF POWELL – Sorry Mo, you’re not even in my top five
1 – Kenny Dalglish
Greatest-ever Scot and his homeland’s top scorer. Link man and striker. Scored ’em and made ’em for Celtic before Liverpool. Genius.
2 – Kevin Keegan
England’s Dalglish and almost as great. Another double jobber. Among the most important of all Shankly’s super shrewd signings. Big for England too. Did it in Germany also. Two-time European
Footballer of the Year.
3 – Roger Hunt
Still ‘Sir’ Roger to Kop faithful. Goals kept on flowing and flowing. Vitally so for England also, including three in the 1966 World Cup-winning tournament. Never stopped running to make openings for others. Liverpool’s all-time leading scorer until overtaken by…
4 – Ian Rush
Thrived during two prolific spells at Anfield as well as being Wales’ top scorer at the time. Natural goalscorer somewhat in the Jimmy Greaves mould. Magical and part of possibly the best-ever Liverpool strike partnership with Dalglish.
5 – Ian St John
Second-top Kop strike pairing with Hunt. Irrepressible and a sign outside a Merseyside church said it all. The main message on a poster asked: ‘What would you do If Jesus Christ came to Liverpool?’ The answer scrawled underneath by one of the faithful: ‘Move St John to inside forward’.
True genius ‘King Kenny’ as he is known on the Kop is immortal on Merseyside
PETER CROUCH – Iconic milk advert settles the matter!
1 – Ian Rush
There can only be one No 1. He was the first hero of my age and the best goalscorer I’d ever seen. The first proper superstar, scoring in cup finals – one chance, one goal – and then everything else that went with it, including the milk advert!
2 – Roger Hunt
Keegan and Dalglish are not on this list because I never saw them play, but Hunt was a must. Yes, his goal record was off the charts, but it was what he meant to Liverpool. It’s a club based on winning trophies and he lifted some of the first. His breakthrough was pivotal in the club’s history.
3 – Robbie Fowler
Robbie is my personal favourite. I went from pretending to be him in the playground to playing with him! His rise was just the right era for me – the adidas kit, the Cruyff turn before that stunner against Villa.
4 – Mo Salah
Just a phenomenon on a relentless pursuit of excellence. I dedicated my column last week to Salah because he has a chance to become one of the all-time greats. He has a place in my best XI in history and can keep climbing the goal charts.
5 – Michael Owen
Michael shook the world. Had he stayed injury-free and at Liverpool, I believe he’d top the list. A Ballon d’Or days after turning 22, if it was now he’d be worth £200million.
Michael Owen shook the world with Liverpool and won the Ballon d’Or as a result
IAN LADYMAN – You’re top of the Kop for me now, Mo
1 – Mo Salah
Just when you think you have seen everything this incredible player can deliver, he produces Sunday’s goal. The best goal I have seen at Anfield? Maybe not but it was astonishing. The way he has increased his levels in the years that followed their European and domestic success has been profound.
2 – Kenny Dalglish
For so long the standard-bearer at Anfield, it feels blasphemous to relegate him to second. Dalglish is the most intelligent striker I’ve seen. I saw him do wonderful things but not what Salah did on Sunday.
3 – Luis Suarez
For two seasons Suarez was unstoppable. A natural finisher and devilish competitor – had he played for Klopp, he would have challenged Salah for goals.
4 – Roger Hunt
You have to respect his numbers and that he was at the heart of the club’s most transformative period. His standards never dropped as Liverpool went on to establish themselves as the best team in the land.
5 – Ian Rush
Anyone who thinks pressing from the front is new should have seen this guy. Give him the ball with space and there was one outcome. No fuss, just goals.
Luis Suarez was unstoppable during his electric spell on Merseyside with the Reds
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