Erling Haaland ‘snuffed out’ claim bold but Mohamed Salah can give Liverpool duo Golden Boot say

Mohamed Salah has been tipped for the Golden Boot race amid a bold Erling Haaland claim, while another Anfield star could feature as well if things fall in place.

Pre-season is the time for bold predictions. Reputations can be fabricated or destroyed as pundits seek to see into the future in a league notorious for its unpredictability.

Liverpool left many looking foolish last year as it fell to a underwhelming fifth-placed finish, but will be hoping to prove people wrong in a very different way at the start of the new season.

Central to those ambitions will be Mohamed Salah, as always, as the club’s top scorer in every season since joining the club attempts to personally correct the wrong of missing out on Champions League qualification.

The three-time Golden Boot winner was overshadowed by Erling Haaland last season, as the Norwegian shattered the Premier League goal record set by Salah. And while Liverpool will hold ambitions of chasing down Manchester City, few would bet against the 23-year-old having another phenomenal year.

Step forward, Paul Merson. Seeking a place in the punditry Hall of Fame, he has gone with a bold prediction for Sportskeeda, claiming that Haaland’s threat was ‘snuffed out’ by the back end of last season.

Merson claims that Haaland will not win a second consecutive Golden Boot, with Harry Kane tipped for the honor provided he remains in the league.

And while that seems brave, the Spurs talisman did incredibly well to get to within six goals of the Manchester City star last season, despite not delivering very many of the massive single-game hauls for which the former Borussia Dortmund man has become renowned.

Salah is also tipped as someone in the running, with Merson pointing out his key ‘advantage’ over a number of potential rivals. Put simply, he will play more or less every game: he is probably the only Liverpool striker who has that ticket, and it’s true that it will be a valuable trait in chasing down goal records.

However, Salah’s game is slowly changing. He is still a monster when it comes to goal output, but he has evolved into a creative force as well.

Comparing him to forwards in Europe’s top five leagues over the past year (FBref), his 0.32 assists per 90 minutes places him in the 98th percentile, even higher than his 87th percentile goal return.

That’s been the story of pre-season, too. Salah has found the back of the net — something Haaland is yet to do, interestingly — though Salah’s main contribution has been assists. He’s up to five in just three games so far, with a deadly link-up starting to form with Darwin Núñez.

The foundations were already laid last season, with Salah and Núñez the top Liverpool combination for clear-cut chances. They laid on a total of 10 for one another, while all four of the Uruguayan’s assists were for the Egyptian.

So far in pre-season has shown signs of finally finding his clinical edge. He has contributed to four goals so far, and if he can start finishing off even a decent fraction of the chances Salah lays on for him, he could truly form a lethal duo.

That would make it very difficult for Jürgen Klopp to leave him out. That’s the reservation that Merson has — he name-checked Núñez in his Golden Boot discussion, but cited game time concerns.

Yet if the link-up with Salah continues to blossom, and an established front line takes shape, it could fire both of the Liverpool stars into contention for the goal-scoring awards.

Núñez is not under pressure: it’s not like last season, where he and Haaland were joining the league together, with an obvious ‘rivalry’ narrative forming before either had kicked a ball. Instead, all of the expectations are on the Manchester City star.

But while it seems brave to predict a significant regression for him, his Liverpool counterpart could certainly surprise a few people this season, with the Salah partnership the key.



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