Most journalists weren’t surprised to see Salah score the Premier League’s most prolific season in living memory

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Few people in London-area soccer were surprised to hear that Mohamed Salah had broken Dimitar Berbatov’s Premier League goalscoring record, scoring 34 times in 63 games for Liverpool and Roma over two seasons. One person who had bet it wouldn’t happen was Nigel Sawyer, a British journalist who has been covering the Premier League since 1999.

“It was tipped to happen because he’s been phenomenally successful, but there are a lot of other underrated players out there that it would have been a bit of a surprise to me if he had done it,” Sawyer, 44, says. “I say underrated because I’m aware that there’s been a tendency to place reliance on players who are established at their clubs and have previous success at that club.”

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Liverpool has sold Salah to Roma to make room for the 5-foot-11 winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Salah does not look like a prototypical wide winger, but England coach Gareth Southgate was able to use him as a No. 10 last season.

Despite spells in Russia and Brazil and holding roles for the Egyptian national team, Salah has not received the respect of many soccer commentators, including Sawyer.

“Mo Salah has had enormous success but not the kind of success you’d expect, not the kind of regularity that you would expect from someone of his international class,” Sawyer says. “Even going back to the Premier League, he’s been coming in, out of form. So the question is: Can he maintain that throughout the season and put up the kind of standards that he’s shown? That really, that’s the question.”

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