Opinion: Salah goal not a worthy Puskas winner

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

Mo Salah scored several great goals last term during his record-breaking first season at Liverpool, but the net-bulger that won him the Puskas Award at Monday night’s FIFA awards was not one of them.

OK, it was a great curling shot after a little bit of trickery, but do we not see goals like this almost every week throughout the football season?

Contrast Salah’s strike with most of the other goals on this season’s list; including Gareth Bale’s stunning Champions League final effort; Ronaldo’s overhead against Juventus; Benjamin Pavard’s fine effort against Argentina or even Denis Cheryshev’s goal for Russia against Croatia, and it is probably the least beautiful of the bunch.

While this goal somehow wasn’t even nominated (Disclaimer: The author is a Wolves fan).

Even Salah’s team-mate James Milner agreed that his team-mate scarcely deserved the award.

The problem, is that the Puskas award is chosen via an online poll, that most unreliable of decision making tools.

Having an online poll leaves the result open to manipulation and at the behest of concerted efforts to alter the vote in a particular nominee’s favour. See the Tweet below as just one example.

Nevertheless, this award has thrown up some truly worthy winners in recent seasons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2013), Malaysia’s Mohd Subri (2016) and Olivier Giroud (2017) being rewarded for some simply stunning efforts.

This year’s winning goal though, is most definitely an anomaly.

While there is no denying that Salah was one of, if not the best, player in world football last season, it would be interesting to see just how many of the votes for the winning goal originated from Egypt or the Liverpool area.

A case for changing the voting method? Perhaps.

There will always be arguments and differences of opinion in football whoever wins. That is part and parcel of being a football fan – the ubiquitous ‘banter’ and the right to ‘agree to disagree’.

The Puskas Award, however, is supposed to reward the player that is “judged to have scored the most aesthetically significant, or “most beautiful”, goal of the year”, and it’s safe to say that this year that just isn’t the case.