Mohamed Salah and Bukayo Saka truth still clear as Liverpool contract call looms

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the first Liverpool goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield on December 23, 2023 in Liverpool, England.
Mohamed Salah leads Bukayo Saka and most of the rest of the league in a key area, showing his enduring value to Liverpool. -Credit:John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

With Arsenal currently top of the league, albeit only on goal difference, an unwanted narrative is starting to bleed its way into the discourse. Bukayo Saka has been the attacking talisman for his side this season, and it has led to favorable comparisons with Mohamed Salah.

Drawing the parallel is only natural. The duo both occupy the right wing, where they like to cut in on their left, and both are among the best players currently plying their trade in the Premier League. Certainly, Saka's quality is not lost on Liverpool, which was interested in signing the Arsenal ace until he finally committed to a new contract last February (Mirror).

But not for the first time, Salah is not getting the plaudits he deserves. The league has become effectively immune to his brilliance, with the consistency of his numbers season after season dulling their impact; even some at Liverpool might be guilty of downplaying his continued importance to the team.

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That's a particularly relevant conversation at the minute, with Salah's deal set to run into its final year. Michael Edwards returns to the FSG fold just in time to oversee this crucial contract decision.

It's not impossible to make the case for cashing in on Salah, especially if the inflated Saudi interest is still there. Soon to be 32, he can't keep going at the top level forever, and he is comfortably the club's highest earner. Netting a significant transfer fee now would allow Liverpool to reinvest, with its revered transfer guru now on hand to guide that process alongside incoming sporting director Richard Hughes.

But selling the team's most important player is never to be taken lightly. And while there has been a rush to remove that crown from Salah, it's clear that he is still the best around at delivering when it really matters.

First and foremost, Salah's raw numbers are still incredible. Even at this late stage in the season, he is averaging more than one goal contribution per game, having scored 23 goals and assisted 13 in 35 matches prior to tonight's match. Saka, in what is surely his best campaign to date, has 18 goals and 13 assists in 40 appearances.

It goes to show that even with significant money to spend, Liverpool would really struggle to replace Salah's goals. But what might be even harder is replacing his game-changing impact.

Per stats from Opta, via the Mail, Salah leads the Premier League for 'decisive' goal involvements — goals or assists that either draw the team level or put it ahead. He has notched 18 such involvements, level with Cole Palmer of Chelsea, and five clear of Saka.

When push comes to shove, Salah is still Liverpool's go-to man. Hypothetically, swapping him out even for someone as talented as Saka would see a drop-off in goals, assists and ultimately points as well — and the Arsenal man is far from ten-a-penny either.

Of course, much will hinge on Salah's demands, and perhaps there is less of a 'blank check' argument than there was when his future was last up for discussion two years ago. But another new contract should certainly be the desired outcome, with Salah showing no signs of slowing down, even when measured up against some of the league's best. says: Despite what a fair few 'combined XIs' might tell you, Saka has a way to go before he is in the same league as Salah. Undoubtedly an excellent player, and developing the habit of being on hand when his team needs him most, it's no disrespect to say that he has not yet caught one of the all-time greats of the Premier League.

Ultimately, if Salah did leave, somebody else would need to step up with those 18 result-altering goals. Those could be spread around the squad, but a drop-off of even one or two means lost points, underlining why Liverpool must do all it can to extend the Egyptian's stay on Merseyside.