English clubs do things a little differently than their American counterparts. The financial gulf between MLS and the EPL is quite huge, and a major difference in structure and structure within clubs make it difficult for American teams to contend. That being said, teams here do seem to love to have their players judged to some extent on factors outside of their ability to play soccer, which is a wonderful trait to find in their young stars.
Chicago Fire’s Teal Bunbury was once denied a chance to play in Mexico because his birth certificate was not submitted correctly. Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah did something similar on an English passport when he was growing up in Nigeria.
In England, you can have a passport from any foreign country and be treated with the same courtesy as anyone else. Those rules are harsh, but they work the opposite way, as the EPL has one of the smallest differences between America and England.
Everton’s John Stones has had to deal with bad press for his controversial birthday-party shenanigans and not being the most dedicated to his studies, but this makes no difference to any EPL organization.
In fact, something like this might make Manchester United or Manchester City more lenient with their responsibilities to their players, particularly with players considered globally to be among the best.
It’s only one player, but it’s a telling example of the varying rules and requirements of the various Premier League clubs. And it’s an example that can affect another player.
Mo Salah is in the prime of his career, and he’s just getting better and better. He was arguably Liverpool’s best player in the Champions League in their loss to Real Madrid. Against Swansea City, he scored the winning goal in a 4-1 romp, continuing to not only dominate the majority of every game he’s played, but a game in which he didn’t score.
Salah had been in in scoring form prior to going off with a hamstring injury in the Champions League. He’d been on a tear, as he was without a doubt the top player in the Premier League through the season’s first two months, peaking with the winning goal against Manchester City.
He got some personal recognition at the club from then-manager Jurgen Klopp after that one, which might have been a little selfish for Klopp. But if it’s any consolation to Klopp, it’s hard to argue that Salah wasn’t one of the top three players in the Premier League last season. That is certainly on the evidence of his performances against the Premier League’s preeminent teams last season.
Now, whether or not Salah is considered the best Premier League player of all time depends on which guy you’d choose in that debate. But just by looking at one individual’s experience in England, it’s clear that Salah is underappreciated.
There is no shortage of goal-scorers in the Premier League, and Salah is easily one of the top three. Maybe his injuries don’t help his case, but he is by no means a role player. Maybe his passes are considered a little bit more diminished or a little less perfect than the others, but Liverpool’s philosophy has always been to get the ball to Salah in space, because they know he will do something special with it.
And if not, he does a damn good job getting the ball to Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, or anyone else who will make the difference.
Being an international star, classically Italian at all times and of Egyptian heritage – Salah is by no means in a negative light. Everyone is rooting for him, he has support from all corners of the British press, not just the soccer part, and Liverpool fans still hold him in some reverence, as well.
This doesn’t mean he has to be judged on that exact score, either. But it is worth pondering whether we take his achievements and the praise he’s attracted with the same level of deliberation as he’s received.
Mo Salah can’t be pigeonholed into one camp because he’s a superstar. He can’t be just ‘Mohamed Salah’ because he’s one of the most beloved players in recent memory. If Mo Salah is more than one person, then he’s the star. And while he doesn’t get his due for just being such a star, he certainly should.
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