On Sunday a burgeoning bookmakers’ contest was given a welcome shift when bookmakers stopped taking bets on whether Alex Ferguson will ever coach again.
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While a groundswell of support behind the Manchester United manager peaked on Wednesday night when tabloid columnist David Peace claimed Ferguson’s imminent retirement would be the greatest television event of the week, supporters of rival clubs have been quick to support the appointment of another United player as the most overlooked in Premier League history.
In Mo Salah, Liverpool might have a valuable replica rather than their second player of the season but it is not the £35m signing from Roma that deserves the mention for being one of the best players in the Premier League this season.
According to some bookmakers Salah is the most underrated player in the league and claims a likely place in the FA Cup final with Liverpool could yet prove to be the jewel in the crown of a stellar career. That claim depends on how you define “underrated”.
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Whether it is the quality of his performances or his personal style, Salah has been a revelation on Merseyside. The problems facing Brendan Rodgers before he left the club for Juventus in 2014 included finding a player capable of living up to the excitement that greeted his arrival and his physical skills have been phenomenal.
The Liverpool boss, Jürgen Klopp, considers Salah to be the ultimate find, describing him as “The best place finder in the world”, and has been delighted with his progress this season as Salah has become a figure who makes all the headlines.
With a 33-goal haul and scoring in a record-breaking 14 consecutive games for club and country Salah has arguably been Liverpool’s greatest attacking player since Alan Hansen and Steven Gerrard. And while he may not set any records in La Liga, he would certainly be a contender.
Salah’s form in Turkey takes into account his performances in the Champions League and with Sevilla having beaten Roma 3-1 at the weekend the 26-year-old has helped guide the Italians to third in Serie A. At 29 and more than 100 appearances for the country, it is far from a foregone conclusion that Salah will be remembered as one of Turkey’s best ever players but he has already stamped his mark on the national team.
It is impossible to overlook the fact that Salah has been around for years and been a member of a generation that underlined the merits of his game with an Egyptian record of 10 goals in qualifying for the World Cup in June. Yet not even the Egyptian fans were expecting so much and his 36 goals in club football in the calendar year is a figure not even Madrid would have dreamed of.
David Hunter, Chief Executive of BetStars, said: “It is not just any player, this is our second player of the season so far and after witnessing the training ground he has to prepare for our placing him alongside all the other players who could have been the second best player so far.”
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Salah has not appeared to be affected by pressure – he continues to score in his second full season at Liverpool and has a brilliant chance of forcing his way into the all-time list of goalscorers. But as a pacey, clever player, who plays on the edges and moves the ball with pinpoint accuracy, he may still yet prove to be one of the finest players this generation has ever seen.