According to leading sports scientist Simon Brundish (Simon Brundish), this is an absolute Yes ——He has statistics to prove it.
18 years later, Mo Salah followed Henry’s path and replaced Italy with England-this time for the benefit of Liverpool.
Since the transfer from Rome, the Egyptian has scored more than 100 goals in just four seasons, leading the club to win the UEFA Champions League for the sixth time in 2019, and won three years in the following year. The first league championship.
Considering that Salah usually plays on the wing instead of being a center like Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku, this number of goals is even more striking.
“I think he is unprecedented as a player in the Premier League,” said Brundish of CNN Sport.
“The closest we were to him was Thierry Henry, but when he was as old as Salah, he had become a center forward-until he was 23, he sometimes played on the left.
“Henry may be the other most underrated and underrated football player in the history of the Premier League with Salah.”
Is the Golden Globes worth it?
Salah has scored six goals in his first seven games and has a habitually prolific start to Liverpool’s 2021/22 league season.
The shortlist for the Men’s Ballon d’Or was announced last Friday. Salah is one of the 30 most important personal honor candidates in football. The Golden Globe Awards ceremony will be held in Paris on November 29th.
Although he scored 32 goals in his Liverpool debut season, won the League Golden Boot, and worked hard since then, Salah has never been on the podium of the award-a fact that makes Brundish is confused-even though the sports scientist believes that the forward is on track to avenge any injustice before this season.
“I think if he continues like this, there will be no controversy,” Brundish said.
“I don’t think anyone can do like his current season. If Liverpool perform well in Europe-they are usually good at Europe-and win a league title or the Champions League, I think he has momentum.
“I think he should win it in the 2017/18 season. That year he was the best player on the planet. It should be noted that Messi is the best player on the planet because he has always been the best player on the planet. Good player, until he stops breathing, but Salah is the best player.”
In-depth understanding of statistics
These numbers prove Brundish’s analysis-played 152 league games for Liverpool, 101 goals and 36 assists. These do not require quantification or additional explanation to show Salah’s great statistics, but Brundish arrives with extra income anyway.
Reference is made to the analytical indicators called expected goals and expected assists-data that effectively measures the probability of a shot and a final pass ending in a goal. Generate a value between 0 and 1 to quantify the likelihood of a goal for each action: 0 means impossible to score, and 1 means a goal.
The expected number of goals (xG) takes into account variables such as shooting angle and distance from the goal, while the expected number of assists (xA) is also based on factors such as where the ball is passed and where the scorer initially receives the ball.
Take Salah’s goal against Liverpool as an example. Taking into account Salah’s shooting distance and the number of Manchester City defenders blocking his path, Curtis Jones made a short pass to the Egyptian immediately before the goal. Obtain a relatively low xA value.
Similarly, considering the sharp angle of Salah’s shot, the xG assigned to his shot will be small compared to an open shot in the center of the penalty area.
The “excellent performance” xG-the number of goals scored exceeds the cumulative expected number of goals-can indicate a high level of finishing ability, as Salah has proved with 1.14xG in the first seven league games of the season. at this point.
For Brundish, this is an “important” sign of Salah’s talent, and is accompanied by a series of other statistics to quantify his value-only Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is close.
“Salah has the greatest season in the history of the Premier League, obviously in the 17/18 season, but since the 17/18 season, he created the most opportunities, not De Bruyne,” Brundish said .
“He passes the ball more times in the penalty area, creates more xA, more opportunities, takes the ball into the penalty area, touches the penalty area more times-so he takes the ball and receives more than anyone else. ball.
“And he created more post-shooting xG-the value of what happens after the shot. In the past four years, he has added the most shots for anyone in the league.
“Currently this season, Salah has scored a goal or assist every 59 minutes, and in his first season for Liverpool, he has scored a goal or assist every 58 minutes.
“So you can’t just judge by goals and assists, but if we want to do this, of any player in Premier League history who has scored 50 goals, only Thierry Henry has a higher rate of goals and assists than Salah. .
“In addition, he also missed two games due to injury. This is a ridiculous level of value. De Bruyne is the only player in the league who can be as good as Salah, but during that time he Missed 38 games. It’s not the case. “If you don’t play, it doesn’t matter if you are so good. ”
So is Salah underestimated?
It seems contradictory that a player who has such a large amount of statistical evidence to enhance his abilities may be underestimated, however, Brundish asserts that this is indeed the case.
After working with many Premier League clubs, Brundish believes that Salah is very popular among other players. However, in the mainstream sports media, those who “set a narrative” are often criticized quickly.
“There is always a’yes, but…’ with Salah,” Brundish said.
“They can always find reasons to say,’Yes, but he is selfish’,’Yes, but he doesn’t work hard.’ Sadio Mane [Salah’s teammate] Experts who set the narrative receive higher ratings, but statistically speaking, they are not comparable.
“One is the greatest player in history, and the other is an excellent football player, but he is not the greatest player in history. We seriously underestimated him.”
The “selfish” and “lazy” labels against Salah are barbs that Brundish finds particularly annoying. For a scientist whose entire work revolves around using data to create and support conclusions, this is “very annoying.”
“You can’t be so selfish and at the same time create more opportunities for your teammates than anyone in the league,” Brundish said.
“It’s not’sometimes he creates opportunities’-he is actually more generous than anyone in the entire league. So you can’t use these narratives-they can’t exist at the same time-one is wrong, it is repeatedly pointed out .
“‘He doesn’t work hard.’ Well, statistically, he puts more pressure on the last three-pointer than anyone in Europe. His recovery rate for the last three-pointer is the highest of anyone in Europe.
“He did all those hard-working things. If they worked hard, you would allow a bad player to do it, because you know,’our team works’, and he is also the best football player in the league.
“You have reached the point where you are either too lazy and unwilling to accept anything different, or you are lying, neither of which suits me.”
Media and public awareness
Brundish’s frustration came in part from his belief that these criticisms contained implicit negative assumptions about Salah’s character.
“When you use a language like selfishness, it is derogatory, so you are creating criticism, but it also leads your brain down a certain path,” Brundish explained.
“What does selfishness mean? It means he did not pass, he was not generous, and he would make the wrong choice for his own personal benefit. In England, this is important because we have these very terrible old traditions, and they are tough Perseverance–contributing to the team-is the most important thing.”
This allusion to the core ideals of English football, and how it sees itself, constitutes the basis for Brundish to explain why this criticism of Salah has risen and continued until recently.
“There is always a little bit of xenophobia,” he argued.
“Britain is better, England is better, and the Premier League is better. He can’t do this in things like Stoke on a cold and wet night. For any non-British people, until they stay in England for a while— —I don’t know what that duration is — when they suddenly become “ours”, there must be a certain degree of familiarity.
“[Cristiano] Ronaldo did it, and Thierry Henry did it in the end-you will definitely find this in foreign players.
“There is always something nagging,’He must have a problem, because he can’t be so good.’ He proved them wrong, which is almost a contempt of their judgment.
“I feel a little uneasy about this. I have been there for three or four years. However, some changes have taken place in the past three weeks. They are talking about him now because he may really be world-class. I think maybe it’s only fifth grade. , It might be that simple.”
Brundish also believes that Salah’s initial “rejection” of English football, that he was bought by Chelsea from Rome in 2014 and sold by coach Mourinho two years later, contributed to Salah’s suspicion. The genre of the commentator.
“Salah has a legacy rejected by Mourinho, one of our foreigners,” Brundish explained.
“It’s like, if Mourinho thinks he is not good enough-Mourinho is the greatest coach we have ever considered as media experts-then there must be a problem.”
Fortunately for Salah, he undoubtedly has the full support of current coach Jurgen Klopp.
“Mo Salah scored that goal because he is world-class,” Klopp said after the Manchester City game.
“He is one of the best players in the world. That’s it.”
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