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Salah can engineer perfect Liverpool goodbye as one change should worry Man City

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Last summer, it seemed that Liverpool as we knew it was perfectly poised for a ‘last dance’. Even then, it was clear that the legendary triumvirate that has become synonymous with the Jürgen Klopp era was unlikely to last beyond the end of the season. An historic quadruple was nearly the perfect send-off, but completing the overall set of trophies was nonetheless a fitting end.

Football, however, is unrelenting. Liverpool can wallow in clips of Sadio Mané and his best link-ups with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for a few days, but his replacement is already through the door. In truth, Firmino is also well on the way to being phased out, even though he will remain a part of the squad for one more season.

Of the famous ‘fab three’, then, it is only Salah who looks set to play an integral role in 2022/23. And with his contract expiring at the end of the season, and no sign of a breakthrough, he could be primed to deliver a personal swansong: something that should send shivers down Manchester City spines.

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If the front three had the domestic cups as their collective unfinished business last season, Salah will now have eyes on personal honours. Over the course of his five years at Liverpool to date, precious few players in world football have matched his output. Three top-10 finishes in the Ballon d’Or reflects his consistency, but he will be desperate to finish higher up the rankings, and to claim the ultimate prize.

Then there are goal records to think about. Salah broke the 38-game Premier League record in his debut campaign at Liverpool, but will have eyes on the tally of 34 that still stands from days of 42-game seasons. If nothing else, he will want to eclipse his own best tally of 32.

The playmaker record could even be in his sights too. Salah finished 2021/22 with 14 assists, only six off the high watermark set by Thierry Henry and matched by Kevin De Bruyne at Man City. Around November time, it looked as though the Liverpool man could smash the goal and assist record in the same campaign.

His individual output tailed off from there, but this is where things get really interesting. Last season, the only attacker in the world who accumulated more minutes than Salah was Harry Kane. It is little wonder that he began to slow down. In the upcoming campaign, he will be granted a long break at almost precisely the point he previously began to stall.

The World Cup is due to start on November 21. By that point last season, Salah had 11 Premier League goals and eight assists to his name, having played 12 games. Whereas the fixtures just kept on coming in 2021/22, he will get a month off this time around, with Egypt not having qualified for the sport’s showpiece tournament.

Extrapolating his numbers from before November 21 over a full campaign is perhaps a little simplistic, but it certainly makes for exciting reading. Salah would finish on 35 goals, breaking the all-time record. He would shatter the assist record, laying on 25 goals for his teammates. That’s without even accounting for the fact that he is likely to have more league games in which to score or assist this season, with no Africa Cup of Nations to consider.

Numbers even vaguely close to these would make Salah a hugely effective spearhead in the charge to dethrone Manchester City. Leaving as a reigning Premier League champion is how he will want to bow out, and it would be the only fitting end to his Liverpool career.

The last dance has been played out, and Klopp has two new trophies to show for it. But the encore, led by Mohamed Salah, is still to come: watch out, Man City.



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