It has been a privilege to be in the stadium to witness three very different Liverpool performances this past month, just two weeks apart. Mohamed Salah was the constant.

It took resilience to stay in the game – and the title race – away to Manchester City. The 4-0 dismantling of Manchester United showcased Jurgen Klopp’s side at their brilliant best. The Merseyside derby win over Everton required patience and precision.

Salah’s influence was felt in the biggest moments. The pass for Sadio Mane’s equaliser at City, two goals and an assist against United, and another crucial role for the breakthrough against Everton. Despite recent talk of a goal drought, his form makes the case.

Mohamed Salah is the footballer of the year.

One cannot claim to have seen Salah in the flesh as often as Anfield regulars. But one of the benefits of this job is being able to see all the best teams on a regular basis.

Watching on television, the big moments stand out. In the ground, those are amplified, of course, but it is the cumulative effect of the hundreds of little moments that shape opinion.

A player taking a pass in his stride while running at speeds that seem startling. The spatial awareness to shift the ball away from an opponent with a deft first touch. Those able to navigate avenues at ground level when the routes seem congested even from up high.

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It is there, up close, that the best appear even better.

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Liverpool scored one of the best team goals of the season finished off by Mohamed Salah

Certain performances stand out. Some were hard to miss. Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Tottenham when he seemed to sense the importance of the occasion, putting his side ahead three times, imposing himself on the game through sheer force of will.

Harry Kane’s assist for Tottenham’s third goal at Aston Villa when he glanced over his shoulder to spot Heung-Min Son’s blindside run even as the ball was hurtling his way. It all made perfect sense on the slow-motion replays. Kane executed it in real time.

Others were less spectacular but equally impressive. Reece James put on a masterclass at Leicester in which he played as a full-back and a central midfielder in the same game. N’Golo Kante’s goal that day was a reminder of the visceral joy of watching him in action.

Joao Cancelo’s ability to influence from left-back is just one of the thrills of watching Man City. Bernardo Silva’s ubiquity. Phil Foden’s impudence. Kevin De Bruyne’s right foot. Kevin De Bruyne’s left foot. All have lit up games, enriching this Premier League season.

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But the mind drifts back to Salah. The suspicion that he just serves up more of this stuff seems to be backed up by the numbers that show he has had 310 touches of the ball in the opposition penalty box – more than one hundred more than anyone else.

Sometimes it comes easily. One recalls the ease with which he scored his two goals away to Porto. Other times, it is the persistence that pays off, his performance against Everton proving a triumph for probing away. When games are at their hottest, he is still cold.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s Premier League win against Everton

The two finishes against United took his tally against them to five for the season – his earlier hat-trick at Old Trafford having been the culmination of a sequence in which he scored in 10 consecutive games. He had gone a long way to winning this award by October.

The challenge for a journalist is to find a balance between those moments witnessed first-hand and the body of work built up over a full season. It is that wider context, the fact that he does it again and again, that makes the case for Salah too compelling to ignore.

He is not only the top scorer in the Premier League with 22 goals but the man with the most assists too, playing the pass before the goal on 13 occasions. The same player finishing outright top of both lists in a single season has happened only twice before.

Curiously, neither Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1994, nor Kane for Tottenham last season, received the FWA Footballer of the Year award. This reporter cannot be held responsible for the former. Perhaps Spurs’ poor season scuppered the latter.

Salah can have no such fear. This remarkable individual season may yet be enough to propel Liverpool to the most remarkable of all team seasons. The quadruple is still achievable. The awarding of this prize would be even more straightforward if that is achieved.

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Jamie Carragher and the team discuss whether Mohamed Salah will sign a new contract

Aston Villa
Liverpool

Tuesday 10th May 7:00pm

Kick off 8:00pm

Nevertheless, tradition dictates that the FWA award is to go to the player who ‘by precept and example’ has been the footballer of the year. Whatever happens between now and the Champions League final at the end of May, that sounds a lot like Liverpool’s No 11.

“He is a role model in so many ways,” says Klopp of Salah. “He is very influential for us. If someone thinks he is very influential for the rest of the world as well, then good.”

This one does.

And most others watching Mohamed Salah would agree.

The FWA Footballer of the Year will be revealed on Sky Sports News at 10am on Friday

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