Mohamed Salah has been in ridiculously impressive form lately as regards to assists, and a certain type of pass peculiar to Lionel Messi can carry the Liverpool winger to even greater heights.
Salah is a man who lives for records and personal achievements. You could tell that from the way he threw away his shirt when he became Liverpool’s record Premier League goal scorer, celebrating far more enthusiastically than a goal to put his team 6-0 up would usually merit.
Granted, it was against Manchester United so any sixth goal against them is worth a little extra. But Salah clearly knew he needed one to become the Reds’ top scorer in the modern era of league competition.
He probably knows that having overtaken Robbie Fowler on that front, he is now only one behind ‘God’ on the Premier League’s goal contribution chart. Another 12 will take the Egyptian past Steven Gerrard and into the top 10, so there’s a pair of Liverpool legends currently standing in Salah’s way.
Records are made to be broken, after all. Sadly for Salah — and people who don’t support Manchester City — one of the benchmarks he previously set has since gone.
In his debut campaign with Liverpool, the former Roma man scored 32 Premier League goals, the most seen in a 38-game campaign.
However, with Erling Haaland having raised the bar to 36 and Salah probably a touch past his peak, it would be a major surprise if the Reds’ number 11 could wrestle back that record.
As his game evolves, it opens the possibility of taking other honors though. The club record for assists in a Premier League campaign was set by Steve McManaman in 1995/96, with the skinny winger setting up 15 goals. Salah notched 13 in 2021/22 and has been in electric form creatively of late.
The 31-year-old has provided seven assists in the last six league games, and while those in friendlies shouldn’t be taken too seriously, he picked up seven in 271 minutes this summer.
As likely as this is an unsustainable red-hot streak, any player posting these numbers — 14 assists in his last 805 minutes, including warm up games — should be capable of 15 in a Premier League season.
Think of the importance of his efforts in the competitive games too. The recent winner at Newcastle stands above them, but he has also set up opening goals at Leicester and Chelsea as well as fashioning equalizers against Aston Villa and Southampton.
But Salah’s real aim will to be get 20 assists in a Premier League season, to match the record set by Thierry Henry in 2002/23 and equaled by Kevin De Bruyne 17 years later.
Salah has recently been emulating a key aspect of the latter’s creativity and if he maintains his form, he might reach the greatest player of all time: Lionel Messi.
In terms of all-time assists, Messi is untouchable. Having spent most of his career in La Liga, he holds the Spanish top flight’s all-time record for both goals and assists, underlining his ridiculous all-round game.
In terms of a single-season target for Salah, Transfermarkt pegs the Argentine’s record at 22 (2019/20), while Guinness World Records clocks it as 21 in the same season.
Crucially, Salah’s passes to create goals at Stamford Bridge and St James’ Park for Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez respectively shared a key attribute: they were through-balls. They bisected the opposition’s defensive line, sending the ball into space for the receiver to attack and score.
Salah has five assists from this type of delivery in his last 19 league starts. He also used his sublime passing ability to carve open the defenses of Newcastle, Manchester United and Southampton last season, with Cody Gakpo, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota the respective grateful recipients.
Five through-ball assists in half a season (albeit straddling 2022/23 and 2023/24) needs putting into context. It’s more than De Bruyne has ever recorded in a full Premier League season, matches the best mark recorded by pass-master David Silva and is only one shy of Cesc Fabregas’ best campaign in the English top flight (since 2009/10 when available data began).
As with everything attack-minded in football, there’s always Messi to consider. He supplied 11 through-ball assists in La Liga in 2010/11, doubling the best English football can offer.
Yet Salah’s current form implies he can get close to that mark, and if he does, he may be able to add the Premier League assist record to his already glittering CV.