Mohamed Salah picks up Andy Robertson’s header just inside his own half. Southampton have one man between the Liverpool No.11 and their goalkeeper but three are quickly retreating in an attempt to stop the Egyptian forward.
He goes on and on, carrying the ball to the edge of the area. However, with every step he takes, the space ahead of him becomes increasingly congested.
Roberto Firmino’s galloping run to Salah’s left is the pass. It’s the pass for what feels like an eternity. But as the former Roma man brings back his trusty left foot, you know there’s only one thing in his mind.
Despite having two bodies directly in front of him and the position being fairly central, Salah takes on the shot.
The ball clips the inside of Angus Gunn’s post before hitting the back of the net. With ten minutes left on the clock, Liverpool finally lead at St Mary’s. Their Premier League title bid is still alive.
Fast forward five months and Salah’s selfishness is being looked upon as a negative. His decision to take on two shots, on his weaker foot, during the 3-0 win over Burnley caused outrage. A lot of it faux with many trying to make it a thing.
Salah could’ve played in Firmino and Sadio Mané and the match would’ve ended 5-0. But why are people so determined to blunt one of the sharpest attackers in world football?
Salah is selfish. You can’t dress sit up any other way and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
If he wasn’t, he would’ve passed to Firmino in that match against the Saints in April. Most other forwards do.
The 27-year-old was out of sorts heading into the game. Prior to the trip to the South Coast, he’d gone eight games without a goal. Yet when it mattered most, he backed himself and it paid off for Liverpool.
Just like it has on countless other occasions.
Firmino’s face while being in the middle of Mane and Salah. ??? pic.twitter.com/xVv3mRxmZM
— ?LIVERPOOL FC?®️? (@DcDusechristian) September 2, 2019
Many of Salah’s memorable moments in red have been individual brilliance. He’s scored worldies against Chelsea, Roma, Spurs and Everton. Goals he has no right to score. Goals he wouldn’t be scoring if he didn’t have the mindset he does.
All elite goalscorers are selfish. Of course, they need the ability to turn that hunger into goals but without that ruthless streak, they’re nothing. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane and Sergio Agüero are a few of the names who also fall into that category.
All players who score with great frequency. They score all kind of ridiculous goals and it’s why fans forget just how selfish they are.
Kane, for example, was averaging 5.5 shots per 90 during the 2017/18 season. Greedy players rely on volume. They aren’t efficient but they don’t have to be as they know they’ll get more opportunities.
Salah is the same. He’ll miss a few chances but then pop up with a goal. Since returning to England, the Liverpool No.11 has averaged 4.05 shots per 90 in the Premier League. He’s averaged a goal every 5.1 shots. On Saturday he had just three shots.
An accusation often levelled at Firmino is that he’s not ruthless enough. The Brazilian’s 27 goals during the 2017/18 campaign was a career-high and only once in eight full seasons has he surpassed the 20-goal mark.
Salah has more goals in two full seasons for Liverpool (71) than Firmino has managed since joining the Reds in 2015 (68). Firmino doesn’t have to be prolific because he has others who have that ruthless nature to their game.
People seem to want Salah to be selfish when it pays off but not when it doesn’t. They praise Firmino’s selflessness the majority of the time but after a draw or a loss, whether or not he’s clinical enough becomes a top of conversation. The perfect forward doesn’t exist. All are selfish in the wrong situations or not selfish enough in the right ones.
But Liverpool have balanced this out with their front three. Their profiles are ideal. It’s why, four games into the campaing, all three have at least two goals to their name and at least one assist. The trio have 12 goals involvements between them.
Salah is selfish. Firmino is selfless. Mané has traits of both. All want to win and Liverpool benefit from that.