- Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane are locked in a head-to-head battle to be the best player the Premier League has to offer.
- Salah’s top form this season has seen his goal tally surpass Kane, but the Tottenham striker is one of the most consistent players in Europe.
- We analysed three key statistics from the last three league seasons to determine who can truly claim to be best.
- That man is Salah — but Kane could still reclaim the crown.
Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah are locked in a “Ronaldo vs. Messi” battle to be the best player that the Premier League has to offer — but both have had to scrap to reach the summit.
Liverpool FC attacker Salah was once an outcast. Unwanted at Chelsea, he was booted out of Stamford Bridge and sent away, with his talent unrecognised, on loan deals.
But after his move to AS Roma in 2015, the Italian media began to label him as the “Egyptian Messi.” He transferred to Liverpool last year and has raised his performance to a level so preposterously high, the comparisons to FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi now finally seem apt.
Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane has also fought hard to reach the top.
Kane, like Salah, was sent away on loan deals when he was younger and struggled to convince Tottenham’s coaches that he was worthy of a first team role at home. He was tall, gangly, and says he “didn’t even look like a proper striker.”
But then something clicked. The arrival of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino in 2014 and a chance YouTube viewing of a Tom Brady documentary changed Kane’s game forever. His Brady-like dedication to the training ground eventually paid dividends as he is now a first team staple having scored 106 Premier League goals (and counting) for the north London side.
Kane is a more modern Cristiano Ronaldo.
When Ronaldo first came to England in 2003, he was a skinny and awkward-looking teenager who was prone to one too many stepovers. But by the time he left the league six years later he had developed into a muscle-clad powerhouse who had refined his skillset.
Kane, like Ronaldo, was once a skinny player. And, just like Ronaldo, he has worked hard to perfect his craft. After years of improvement, Kane is the Premier League’s best striker — a consistently powerful, agile, and sharp player capable of rifling a shot into the goal at will.
Egypt’s Messi vs. the English Ronaldo
Salah recently won the PFA Premier League Player of the Year award for his work this season and there is little question that he has been on fire over the last nine months.
However, to determine who is truly the best overall, Business Insider looked at three core statistics over the last three league seasons.
To assess performance in the attacking zone, we asked: 1. How efficient is the player in front of goal (how often do their shots hit the target), and 2. How reliable are they as a goal creator or a goalscorer on a game-by-game basis?
We looked at ESPN and Whoscored.com statistical data since 2015 to analyse:
- Shot accuracy (percentage of shots on target)
- Strike rate (goals per shots taken)
- Attacking efficiency (goals plus assists divided by total minutes played)
The stats show the winner is clear
Kane is the natural centre forward and has been more accurate in front of goal over the last three league seasons.
- Kane’s 449 shots have hit the target 46% of the time
- Salah’s 292 shots have hit the target 44% of the time
But Salah has a superior shot selection to Kane, underlined by his more clinical strike rate.
- Kane scores one goal for every 5.5 shots he takes
- Salah scores one goal for every 4.9 shots he takes
Salah also tops Kane when it comes to attacking efficiency.
- Kane scores or creates a goal once for every 96.7 minutes he plays
- Salah scores or creates a goal once for every 93.7 minutes he plays
With 82 league goals in the last three seasons, Kane has outscored Salah (60), but the Liverpool attacker has played in a more withdrawn, or wider, attacking position than Kane. With 26 assists, Salah has created more goals for his teams than Kane (10) has.
Salah has also been a more accurate passer of the football (77%) than Kane (72%), he creates more goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates, and is more comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Salah is king
The Italian press waxed lyrical over Salah when he played for Roma in 2015 and 2016. Though it has taken years for the rest of the world to notice, it is easy to see why he is the pharaoh of his homeland.
Here are some of his best moments from this season…
…now we want you to rank them! 👇
5️⃣ ___________________ pic.twitter.com/TP1RvGPoaX
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 18, 2018
…And from previous seasons:
But that does not mean he will always be the Premier League’s best player.
Kane has consistency on his side. He has scored 20+ goals in a single Premier League season for four years in a row, so we can assume he will do the same next season, have a shooting accuracy of around 45%, and score or create a goal once for every 97 minutes he is on a league pitch.
How Salah will fare in his second Premier League season at Liverpool remains to be seen. He may even revert to the player Chelsea abandoned just three years ago, something we’ve seen glimpses of in recent games.
During a 0-0 draw with relegation-threatened Stoke City in April, Salah had a good chance to score and win the game but missed his chance. Liverpool had to settle for a single point, rather than all three.
Salah believes his own hype trying to chip it in every time. Confidently predict he will now revert back to the player Jose Mourinho definitely didn’t want to sell and had no role in exiling from Chelsea.
— Tom Adams (@tomEurosport) April 28, 2018
This result was just two days before Kane scored the second goal in Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Watford.
Yes, Salah may be the king for now — but there is plenty of time for Kane to reclaim the crown.