If Virgil van Dijk cost Liverpool $100 million, imagine how much Mohamed Salah is currently worth?
The Egypt forward is exceeding all expectations in his first season at Anfield and scored another two goals to help Liverpool come from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
That’s 23 goals in all competitions by the turn of the year — matching the 56-year club record held by Roger Hunt — of which 17 have come in the league.
“He is still a young player,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said of the 25-year-old Salah. “He can improve.”
It is looking like 42 million euros ($49 million) well spent this summer following Salah’s move from Roma. Van Dijk was in the directors’ box to watch his new employers after agreeing this week to a move to Liverpool from Southampton for double that fee.
The Dutch center back will do well to match Salah’s impact at Anfield.
Events hours later made it an even better day for Liverpool, with Manchester United held 0-0 at home by Southampton for a third straight draw over the Christmas period. Liverpool, in fourth place, is only three points behind United.
Chelsea beat Stoke 5-0 to climb to second place, 13 points behind Manchester City, which plays Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Salah responded to Jamie Vardy’s third-minute opener at Anfield to score in the 52nd and 76th minutes, and move onto 23 goals by the turn of the year, the same as Hunt had in the 1961-62 campaign.
An errant pass by Joel Matip, who might end up losing his place to Van Dijk, led to Vardy’s goal that was set up by Riyad Mahrez.
Salah had four decent chances before equalizing eight minutes into the second half, running onto Sadio Mane’s back-heel and holding off Christian Fuchs and Daniel Amartey to pick his spot beyond goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
He grabbed the winner in the 76th after another back-heel, this time from James Milner.
Salah is one goal behind the league’s top scorer, Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
Man United striker Romelu Lukaku was carried off on a stretcher, wearing an oxygen mask, in the first half of his team’s draw against Southampton.
Lukaku required a long period of treatment after a clash of heads with Southampton defender Wesley Hoedt. He wasn’t immediately taken to hospital.
United had already drawn against Leicester and Burnley over the past week, damaging further its slim hopes of catching City.
The priority now might be holding onto its place in the top four.
Southampton rebounded well from its 5-2 loss at Tottenham last time out.
A big Chelsea win was predicted as soon as the team sheets came out an hour before kickoff.
Already hit by injuries, Stoke rested a number of key players for its tough trip to Stamford Bridge in view of an important match with fellow struggler Newcastle on Monday, and was made to pay.
Antonio Rudiger, Danny Drinkwater and Pedro Rodriguez scored in the opening 23 minutes, before further goals by Willian — from the penalty spot — and substitute Davide Zappacosta.
“We had to protect a number of players,” said under-pressure Stoke manager Mark Hughes. “I take responsibility for this, it was my decision. But the feeling is we’re in better shape for Monday.”
Carlos Carvalhal made the perfect start as Swansea manager, winning his first game in charge and seeing the team climb off the bottom of the standings.
Jordan Ayew scored an 86th-minute equalizer and Luciano Narsingh grabbed the winner in the 90th minute in Swansea’s 2-1 victory at Watford.
Carvalhal was hired on Thursday as the replacement for Paul Clement, just four days after parting company with under-performing second-tier team Sheffield Wednesday.
It was only Swansea’s fourth league win this season. West Brom is now in last place.
ALLARDYCE RUN OVER
Sam Allardyce’s unbeaten start as Everton manager is over.
In his seventh league game in charge, Allardyce saw his team fall to a 2-1 loss at Bournemouth thanks to Ryan Fraser’s 88th-minute winner.
Fraser had scored the opening goal at Vitality Stadium, with Idrissa Gueye equalizing in the 57th.
It was the first time ninth-place Everton has conceded more than a goal in a game under Allardyce, who made it his first task to shore up the defense.
It was the third round of matches in this extremely busy period in the Premier League and it might be taking its toll on some teams.
Excitement was in short supply as Huddersfield drew 0-0 at Burnley, while there was also a goalless draw between Newcastle and visiting Brighton.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80