Is Mohamed Salah the Premier League's greatest winger of all time?

Kevin De Bruyne is annoyingly brilliant at football, and has understandably entered the conversation for the title of the greatest Premier League midfielder of all time.

The real answer is Steven Gerrard, by the way.

There have also been conversations about Mohamed Salah and his standing among his contemporaries in his position too.

The level that the 31-year-old has reached is something few would have predicted when he joined Liverpool in 2017, at a time when he was even viewed as a backup to Sadio Mane by some, which is hilarious in hindsight.

Salah is now surely one of the top five players to have graced the Anfield turf, if not somewhere among the top three, and his status as a legend of the English game is without dispute.

We are watching one of the true masters at the moment, and he should never be taken for granted. He is, though, and it will forever be a mystery.

Salah has now scored 204 goals in 332 appearances for Liverpool, also adding 88 assists, winning every possible trophy for the Reds and standing out as one of the finest footballers on the planet, winning constant personal awards along the way, too.

He has achieved all of this as a wide man – his record would be impressive enough if he was a centre forward – scoring, creating, working endlessly for the team, and possessing a winning mentality that rubs off on those around him.

Despite all of this, Salah continues to be criminally underrated in some quarters, and quite why that is remains up for debate.

Some rival supporters will scoff at any suggestion that the 'Egyptian King' is among the best wingers, or players, of the Premier League era, but he is unquestionably in the conversation, if not at the very top of the list.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 1, 2024: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah kisses the ball before taking, and missing, a penalty kick during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC on New Year's Day at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-2. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ryan Giggs will ultimately be the first player who many mention, and while praising anything to do with Manchester United feels like a sin for a Liverpool fan, there is a strong argument to pick him out as number one.

He was part of a United side that dominated the English game for large chunks of the 1990s and 2000s, and he remained at the very top level for 20 years, playing up until the age of 40 and rarely having a noticeable dip.

People think of the older Giggs who was past his prime and assume he was always that player, but the younger version was a unique talent who would be worth a fortune in the modern game.

But who else legitimately merits having a genuine claim for being superior to Salah over the past 30-odd years?

Cristiano Ronaldo may possibly be second to Lionel Messi as the leading player in history, but the majority of his very best years were spent at Real Madrid.

Granted, he still emerged as a world star during his time at Old Trafford, but there were arguably only three seasons when he took the league by storm – 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09, when he scored 23, 42 and 26 goals in all competitions respectively.

Salah, in comparison, is now in his seventh season as a Liverpool player, and his tally of 225 goal contributions (153 goals and 72 assists) in the Premier League is far superior to Ronaldo's total of 142, which came in only 15 fewer appearances than the Reds superstar.

Mo Salah grabs his second of the day, Propaganda

Only nine players have netted more times in the competition, and only Frank Lampard isn't a striker, and played significantly more matches.

Eden Hazard is often strangely compared to Salah, but barring aesthetics, he doesn't come close to matching him when it comes to influence and mindset.

A special footballer on his day, Hazard never scored more than 16 goals in the Premier League in a single season, and he lacked the all-round killer instinct of his former Blues teammate.

Football has to be about substance over style for attacking players, and while Salah has both in his armoury, it is the former where he really comes on top compared to those around him.

Even on an off day, he affects games with a goal or an assist, and the level of focus paid to him by opposition sides creates space for others around him.

In terms of other players whose names often emerge when discussing the finest wide player in Premier League history, the likes of David Beckham, Robert Pires, Gareth Bale and David Ginola stand out.

They were all fantastic footballers in their own right, and different to Salah, but they never reached his world-class level over such a long period, producing match-winning moments for fun, season after season in the Premier League.

Mane, too, was a legendary figure at Liverpool – he should always be remembered as the Reds' standout player in the title-winning 2019/20 season – but again, he doesn't match up to his former colleague.

PARIS, Stade de France, 28-05-2022 , season 2021 / 2022 , UEFA Champions League Final . Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Liverpool player Sadio Mane

It's like comparing Kevin Keegan to Kenny Dalglish – both were unbelievable talents, but there is still one who stands out above the other.

It has reached the stage where if you aren't going to appreciate Salah you never will, but it is sad that he isn't universally considered the best, or at the very worst second-best, winger the Premier League has seen.

He deserves so much more love, but instead finds himself being criticised for going to ground too easily (honestly, have you seen how often he is wrestled to the floor and gets no free-kick?) and being 'greedy', despite producing endless masterful assists down the years.

Perhaps what Salah has achieved in his Liverpool career will only be fully admired when he is gone, but he warrants being lavished with praise in the here and now, not just when he leaves.

If he can return from the Africa Cup of Nations and inspire the Reds to title glory in May, that would go a long way to further enhancing his legend, but regardless of that, he should already be seen as the best right-sided player in England since the Premier League's inception in 1992.

For career achievements and longevity, Giggs has a strong argument in the GOAT conversations – if you let Liverpool bias slide for one moment – but, really, nobody else should be mentioned in the same breath alonsgide Salah.

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