Liverpool appear to be on the verge of completing a deal to sign Roma forward Mohamed Salah – but how does the former Chelsea man compare to their current attacking trio?
Reports over the weekend suggested Liverpool will break their transfer record – set by Andy Carroll’s £35million move from Newcastle – to sign Salah, who has flourished at Roma after a brief spell at Chelsea, for whom he made only 19 appearances.
Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane thrived as a front three last season, but the Reds often struggled when one of the trio was unavailable, with Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi more comfortable as out-and-out centre-forwards.
Salah would seem a good fit for one of the front three slots, offering similar pace and penetration as Mane. But how does the 24-year-old statistically compare to Liverpool’s current favoured forward line?
This category more than any is probably why Liverpool have decided to shell out the big bucks on Salah. Edin Dzeko grabbed most of the headlines for Roma with 39 goals in all competitions, but he had an able deputy in the Egyptian, who scored 15 goals and assisted a further 11 more in Serie A.
Neither Coutinho (13 goals and seven assists), Firmino (11 and seven) nor Mane (11 and seven) can match those figures. It’s also worth noting that only Mane made fewer league appearances that Salah.
LFC to sign Mo Salah for £35m by Friday ❤️
Here he is destroying Juve for Fiorentina 2 years back ?
? Fan Footage pic.twitter.com/h4JwpRepr2
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) June 5, 2017
While Salah had the benefit of playing with a striker who was converting plenty of chances in Dzeko, a closer look at his statistics proves that his assist record is not distorted by the Bosnian’s lethal form. On average the winger created 2.3 chances per game, which again betters that of Coutinho (2.1), Firmino (2.2) and Mane (1.6).
His goalscoring record also holds up well given he averaged less shots per game (2.6) than the trigger-happy Coutinho (3.4) and Firmino (2.9). Mane’s impressive finishing is highlighted by the fact that the Senegal international scored only two goals less than Salah despite playing less matches and averaging less shots per game with 2.1.
Considering Salah is known as a direct threat in the mould of Mane, it is interesting to note he actually dribbled less than any of the Reds’ trio. Salah averaged 1.2 dribbles per game, compared to Coutinho’s 2.3, Firmino’s 2 and Mane’s 2.5.
Only Coutinho (83.9%) bettered Salah’s passing accuracy of 80.4%. Likewise, only the Brazilian completed more crosses (1.2) than Salah’s 0.5 per game.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 4, 2017
While forwards will first and foremost be judged on their attacking ability and offensive impact on a match, Jurgen Klopp’s style of play demands a high work-rate from his front line when Liverpool are out of possession.
Daniel Sturridge’s struggles to break into the German’s starting XI, despite all his natural talent, will be held up as an example to Salah that he cannot ignore that aspect of his game.
And this could be possibly be the biggest test of how he fares on Merseyside, as the stats suggest he will need to up his game when Liverpool lose the ball.
Salah’s average of 0.8 tackles per game is lower than all of Coutinho (1.1), Firmino (1.7) and Mane (0.9), which perhaps highlights why he failed to impress Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
In terms of interceptions, Salah (0.4 per game) did average more than Mane (0.3), though he was still down on Coutinho (0.6) and Firmino (0.7).
Still only 24-year-old and with a wealth of experience, including Champions League football and an eye-catching 29 goals in 52 international appearances, Salah’s best years remain ahead of him, and his signing would definitely represent a coup for Liverpool.