Football Features

How Mohamed Salah’s record-breaking 2017/18 compares to modern goalscoring greats

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 17:28, 22 June 2019

To say Mohamed Salah enjoyed an incredible campaign in front of goal for Liverpool during his debut season would be stating the obvious.

He was outstanding in reaching numbers very few could have predicted him attaining given how he’d struggled in England previously with Chelsea.

Considering his final two campaigns with Serie A giants AS Roma, whom he personally destroyed in the Champions League semi-final first leg, Salah’s signing was a huge one.

But again, no one could have foreseen the events that followed. Such was this record-breaking campaign it’s worth comparing his efforts to others, notably the goalscoring greats of modern football.

Mohamed Salah (2017/18)

Club: Liverpool
Goals: 44
Appearances: 52
Competitions appeared in: Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: None

Of his incredible 43 goals, which leaves Salah just four behind Ian Rush’s all-time club record for most goals (47) in a single campaign (1983/84), no fewer than 32 came in the Premier League, meaning the Egyptian forward set a new record; the best return across a 38-game season.

Lionel Messi (2011/12)

 

Club: Barcelona
Goals: 73
Appearances: 60
Competitions appeared in: La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Supercopa de España and UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Supercopa de España, UEFA Champions League

Not since the days of Ferenc Puskás has there been a more prolific and ruthless goalscorer than Lionel Messi, whose devastating 2012/13 campaign – which saw him become the first La Liga player to reach 50 goals in a single campaign – is unlikely to ever be matched.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2014/15)

Club: Real Madrid
Goals: 61
Appearances: 54
Competitions appeared in: La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Supercopa de España, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup

If anyone could match Messi efforts then Cristiano Ronaldo was the best hope. Both, through a borderline obsession with scoring goals, have pushed each other to improbable heights and the Portuguese forward three years after Messi’s wonderous season incredibly just fell 12 short.

Luis Suarez (2015/16)

Club: Barcelona
Goals: 59
Appearances: 53
Competitions appeared in: La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Supercopa de España and UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup

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A year after Ronaldo completed his most prolific season, his numbers came under threat by Messi’s teammate Suarez.

Uruguay’s all-time top-scorer registered no fewer than 59 goals, 40 of which helped him to win a second European Golden Shoe.

Zlatan Ibrahimović (2015/16)

Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Goals: 50
Appearances: 51
Competitions appeared in: Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue, Trophée des Champions, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue, Trophée des Champions

These days the enigmatic Swede is spreading his unique footballing gospel in the United States, but not long ago Zlatan Ibrahimovic was being proclaimed the ‘King of Paris’ and demonstrated why in his final season with PSG as he reached a half century of goals for the first time.

Edinson Cavani (2016/17)

Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Goals: 49
Appearances: 50
Competitions appeared in: Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue, Trophée des Champions

Suarez’s compatriot Edinson Cavani has often gone under the radar when discussing the most lethal marksmen in football today. He illustrated why he belongs in that conversation during PSG’s first post-Zlatan season.

Ronaldo (1996/97)

Club: Barcelona
Goals: 47
Appearances: 49
Competitions appeared in: La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, Supercopa de España
Competitions won: Copa del Rey, Cup Winners’ Cup, Supercopa de España

Very few centre-forwards have enjoyed a more stellar rise than Ronaldo, aptly dubbed ‘The Phenomenon’, who notched 47 goals for Barcelona across his one and only season with the Catalan powerhouse. It is a record that stood until it was surpassed by Messi in 2010/11.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002/03)

Club: Manchester United
Goals: 44
Appearances: 52
Competitions appeared in: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Premier League

A serious knee injury just before Euro 2000 delayed Van Nistelrooy’s arrival at Old Trafford, but the Dutch striker quickly made up for lost time registering 36 goals across 49 matches in his inaugural campaign with Manchester United.

He would go raise the bar even higher the following season, as the Red Devils claimed another Premier League title.

Robert Lewandowski (2016/17)

Club: Bayern Munich
Goals: 43
Appearances: 47
Competitions appeared in: Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, DFL-Supercup, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Bundesliga, DFL-Supercup

Since his controversial move to Bayern Munich from rivals Borussia Dortmund there’s no question Robert Lewandowski has got even better. His efforts last term represented the second consecutive season he reached the 40-goal mark, and incredibly the Poland centre-forward is not far away from surpassing those 43 goals as the 2017/18 campaign draws to a close.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2016/17)

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Goals: 40
Appearances: 46
Competitions appeared in: Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, DFL-Supercup, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: DFB-Pokal

Initially a winger, the position he prefered upon joining the BVB from Ligue 1 outfit Saint-Étienne in 2013, Pierre-Emerick would slowly transform into a centre-forward under Jurgen Klopp’s tutelage before solidifying that conversion in what turned out to be his final full campaign for Die Borussen.

Thierry Henry (2003/04)

Club: Arsenal
Goals: 39
Appearances: 51
Competitions appeared in: Premier League, FA Cup, FA Community Shield, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Premier League

A bona fide Premier League legend, the 2003/04 season proved to be Thierry Henry’s finest hour as his exploits (30 goals across 37 matches) helped Arsenal go an entire league campaign unbeaten, a feat never managed before or since in the Premier League.

Neymar (2014/15)

Club: Barcelona
Goals: 39
Appearances: 51
Competitions appeared in: La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League

Not as overly prolific as the other members of ‘MSN’ the golden boy of Brazilian football nonetheless had his moments in a Barça jersey with their last treble-winning season being Neymar’s best return.

Gonzalo Higuain (2015/16)

Club: Napoli
Goals: 38
Appearances: 42
Competitions appeared in: Serie A, Coppa Italia, UEFA Europa League
Competitions won: None

Surplus to requirements at Real Madrid, the much-maligned Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain proved his worth during three productive seasons with Napoli. The last came as Higuain’s best return, before rivals Juventus made him the most expensive intra-Serie A signing in history by signing him for £79 million.

Alan Shearer (1995/96)

Club: Blackburn Rovers
Goals: 37
Appearances: 49
Competitions appeared in: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Charity Shield, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: None

For a long time, Alan Shearer was the gold standard when it came to Premier League-based goal scorers. He remains the competition’s all-time top scorer, although it might come as a surprise to hear Shearer’s most prolific season wasn’t at boyhood club Newcastle United, but during his final season with Blackburn Rovers – although he equalled the previous season’s tally, with his goals helping Blackburn win a third league title in history – Shearer did so playing a game fewer in all competitions.

Didier Drogba (2009/10)

Club: Chelsea
Goals: 37
Appearances: 44
Competitions appeared in: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Community Shield, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: Premier League, FA Cup, FA Community Shield

Drogba ultimately left Chelsea as the club’s fourth most productive scorer in history, bagging 164 goals, with his best campaign being their double-winning season under Carlo Ancelotti.

Harry Kane (2017/18)

Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Goals: 41
Appearances: 48
Competitions appeared in: Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League
Competitions won: None

As he battled Salah for the 2017/18 Premier League Golden Boot, it was easy to forget Harry Kane still enjoyed his most prolific season as a professional footballer.