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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Will Mohamed Salah be a one-season wonder?

The Egyptian is now a superstar, but will he still be regarded this way in 12 months time?

Mohamed Salah salutes travelling Liverpool fans after helping Liverpool reach the Uefa Champions League final following a 4-2 defeat to Roma at Stadio Olimpico. Liverpool advanced 7-6 on aggregate. Ettore Ferrari / EPA
Mohamed Salah salutes travelling Liverpool fans after helping Liverpool reach the Uefa Champions League final following a 4-2 defeat to Roma at Stadio Olimpico. Liverpool advanced 7-6 on aggregate. Ettore Ferrari / EPA

He has broken all sorts of Premier League records and has propelled Liverpool to a Uefa Champions League final in what has been a fairy-tale season for Mohamed Salah.

But for how long will this extraordinary story last for the Egyptian?

Sport can be cruel. Heroes can turn to villains in an instant, champions become losers. Just take a look at what happened to Tiger Woods' golfing fall from grace, and the shame that Steve Smith and David Warner have brought on Australian cricket.

While Salah is winning the hearts of Merseyside, and many more around the world, here's a few reasons why his feat this season could be a flash-in-the-pan, and the counter argument for why he will keep on scoring:

One-season wonder

History: Forty-three goals and counting is an extraordinary achievement. This is, however, the first time in Salah's career that he has been regarded as a goalscoring machine.

He showed his potential in Italy at Roma, scoring 15 times in the 2015/16 and 19 last season. While this campaign has seen him move into the territory of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, where 40+ goals a season is a regular occurance, there is no real evidence to suggest it will happen again.

Role: Harry Kane has plundered goals for four years running at Tottenham Hotspur, Sergio Aguero for even longer at Manchester City. Goalscoring is ingrained in their style of play as they play centrally in and around the penalty area. Salah tends to come from a wider starting point and has been playing in a Liverpool side which is encouraged to attack with the pace and creativity of Sadio Mane on the opposite wing and the constant hassling of Roberto Firmino as the focal point of attack. If either of those fail to rekindle their form, it could have a drastic effect on Salah's output.

Marked man: It's not like the cat is only just out of the bag. Salah has scored nearly every week since August and opponents have still been unable to stop him. Next season will be different though - he will be man-marked and can expect some rough treatment of the kind regularly granted to Chelsea's Eden Hazard.

Fitness: It's a World Cup year and Salah is set to star for Egypt in Russia. He has already played 47 games for Liverpool this season, mostly in what is regarded as the most physically demanding domestic league in the world. It will be interesting to see how much of a rest he is given after the tournament and whether he will be thrust straight back into the starting line-up in August. He has managed to stay fit throughout this season, but there is no avoiding the possibility that he is one heavy tackle from a long lay off.

Egyptians of the past: Remember Amr Zaki and Mido? Zaki scored on his Premier League debut for Wigan Athletic in August 2008 and was at one stage third top scorer in the division while playing for an unfashionable side. He finished the season with 10 goals but never scored in the Premier League again. Mido, like Salah, arrived in England from Roma and scored 11 times in his first full season for Tottenham. It all went downhill from there. Salah is undoubtedly a class above those two, but his countrymen have promised much before in England.

The original one-season wonders: Michael Ricketts? Michu? Does Michael Bridges ring a bell? None of them scored 43 goals in a season but all scored heavily in a Premier League campaign before suffering a rapid decline.

Destined for greatness

Class is permanent: Jose Mourinho knows a thing of two about transfers, even if he sold Kevin de Bruyne and farmed Salah out on loan while at Chelsea. He saw enough in Salah to sign him from Basel in the first place and the only way has been up since the Egyptian left London. He has always had the ability, now he is been given the stage to truly thrive.

Klopp won't park the bus: Liverpool have been devastating going forwards with manager Jurgen Klopp the antithesis of Mourinho at Manchester United. Don't expect him to have Salah supporting his full-back too often with Liverpool camping 11 players in their own half, which means the goalscoring chances should continue to flow.

Long-ranger: He may not be a classical fox in the box but when did you ever see Michael Owen curling one in from distance? Salah's trademark goal this season has been cutting in from the right on to his left foot and bending the ball into the far corner. There's been enough variety in his goals to suggest he is no one-trick pony.

Low-maintenance: Salah now has celebrity status around the world but don't expect to see him in the headlines for the wrong reasons. He is considered a humble role-model who is focused on his profession. Unlike former Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, you won't see Salah parading a t-shirt emblazoned with "Why always me?"

Trust the experts: He has been likened to Lionel Messi by nearly everyone and it's almost impossible not to fawn over Salah. "Without a shadow of a doubt he’s the best player on the planet right now," said former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard last week - and he knows a thing or two about top-level footballers. And, at 25, there is plenty of time for Salah to get even better. He scores against the weaker teams, and he scores in the big games, including in three separate matches against Manchester City this season.

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Read more:

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Mo Salah is an ideal role model because he is shattering stereotypes and winning hearts and minds