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2020 sports yearender: Salah basks in another glory as Liverpool win elusive Premier League title

Salah enjoys a special year by guiding Liverpool their first English Premier League title in 30 years

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Thursday 31 Dec 2020
File photo: Mohamed Salah's early goal helped Liverpool to a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's all-English Champions League final. (AP)

Mohamed Salah excelled in all three years with Liverpool, but 2020 could perhaps be the most special after he led to the Reds to a long-awaited Premier League crown, which has been elusive for 30 years.

Having joined from Italy’s AS Roma in 2017, the 28-year-old Egyptian dazzled with Liverpool, inspiring them to a host of titles including the Champions League in 2019 and the Club World Cup in the same year.

But Liverpool's faithful were still keen on a first league triumph since 1990. Salah and his teammates duly delivered as Liverpool won their 19th top-flight title with seven games to spare.

Despite a near four-month suspension of domestic football due to the coronavirus outbreak, Liverpool made the year a historic one by winning the Premier League with an 18-point lead over nearest challengers Manchester City.

Salah, who won the Premier League's Golden Boot for the competition’s top scorer twice in the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons, ended last term as the team's top scorer with 19 goals in 34 appearances.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to win a trophy like that. To win the Premier League after long years for the club and the city, it’s unbelievable," Salah said.

"When I came here, I said I wanted to win the Premier League -- it was the first thing in my head, I wanted to win the Premier League and the Champions League. People said, ‘If you could choose one…?’ But now I can say that I’d choose both."

Outstanding start

Winning nine games and drawing five in their first 15 matches of the new season, defending champions Liverpool proved they are also strong favorites to retain their crown, with Salah once again a key factor in this outstanding start.

He has made his best start to a season since joining Liverpool, netting 13 goals in 15 games so far to lead the competition’s scorers’ chart. He has also scored three goals in six games in the UEFA Champions League so far this term.

Salah believes he should focus on replicating his achievements, even though he acknowledged that the mission isn’t easy.

"I think it is hard to do it the first time, but it is harder to do it for the second time and even harder to do it for the third time," he explained.

“I don't know. I don't want to say that for now. But, yeah, I'm always trying to score goals to help the team to win the game. There's a good chance to be a third time top scorer again.

"But the most important thing is to win something, to win the big trophies with the team. That's the most important thing,” he said when asked if he can win a third Golden Boot this season.

New records

Becoming the first Egyptian player to win the Premier League title and the second Arab to achieve that feat after Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez wasn’t the sole personal achievement for Salah, who ended the year on a high note with new records.

On 9 December, he captured the spotlights again after breaking Steven Gerard’s record of most goals scored for Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League.

Salah scored Liverpool’s sole goal in the 1-1 draw away to Denmark's Midtjylland in the sixth round of the group stage, taking his tally to 22 goals in the tournament to overcome club icon Gerrard, who has 21.

It only took Salah 55 seconds after kick-off to score Denmark, marking Liverpool's fastest ever goal in the Champions League.

"It's a great feeling, of course, to be the top scorer for the club [in the Champions League], something I'm proud of. I need to keep going like that and scoring more goals and make the gap maybe bigger between me and the others!,” the 28-year-old said.

"But I'm trying all the time to score goals just to help the team to win games – that's the most important thing."

Salah finished sixth in FIFA's Best Award for the world's best player in 2020, making it to the top 10 for the third time in as many years, having come third in 2018 and fourth in 2019.

However, Salah did not taste any international action as he was ruled out of Egypt's double header against Togo in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers in November after testing positive for COVID-19.

Doubts over future

Despite insisting that he wants to remain with Liverpool after he steered them to the league title, Salah has lately cast doubts over his future.

He hinted that a move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona is a possibility in the future.

"That's a tough one, but right now I can say that everything is in the club's hands. Of course I want to break records here and, I repeat, every record in the club, but everything's in the hands of the club,” Salah said in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS.

"I think Madrid and Barcelona are top clubs ... We never know what is going to happen in the future, but right now I'm focused on winning the Premier League and the Champions League again with my club."

Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp responded by saying that he would not keep any player against his will.

"You cannot force people to stay but that is it ... We make changes and bring players in and if a player wants to go then we cannot, probably not hold him back; it’s just that I would not understand why somebody would want to go," the German coach said.

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