With more assists this season than Cristiano Ronaldo and more goals than Lionel Messi, it’s fair to say that Mohamed Salah is having a pretty good campaign. When Liverpool bought the 25 year-old from Roma, some Reds fans were positive about the move. But many remembered how he struggled in the Premier League before during his previous spell at Chelsea.
It didn’t take the Egyptian forward long to win over those doubting supporters, though. He was up and running instantly. 47 games later he’s scored an incredible and hugely unprecedented 43 goals. He’s the Liverpool Player of the Year. He’s the Premier League Player of the Year. It’s fair to say that he’s the most in-form footballer on the planet at the moment.
It would stand to reason that the former Roma and Fiorentina man would be a red-hot favourite for the Ballon d’Or, then. And he is, along with five-time winner of the prize, Ronaldo. With Messi as the third favourite, the trio stand out as the top three footballers in the world. Salah would be a deserving winner. But that doesn’t necessarily make him better than the two juggernauts of the modern game.
Talk of Salah – who Transfermarkt value at £72million – winning the Ballon d’Or is rife at the moment. Even Liverpool’s number eleven can’t stop his teammates talking up his chances. After a Salah-inspired Liverpool impressed again in their first Champions League semi-final, Reds centre back Dejan Lovren praised his free-scoring colleague.
“He is the one. He is becoming the superstar. It looks easy what he does but it is very difficult. If he continues like that, I don’t know if this is the right time to put pressure on him – but I believe he should be regarded as one of the best three in the world at the end of the year. He deserves to be mentioned for the Ballon d’Or – when people talk about Messi and Ronaldo they should also talk about Salah. He deserves the credit but I think he deserves even more to be honest. Forty-three goals guys.”
Lovren is right to a degree. Salah is on fire right now. He’s not just doing the business in the league, but showcasing his skills and firepower in Europe too. Let’s not forget that he’s a talismanic – and borderline even shamanic – figure for his national side. But a true great needs to perform consistently for years and years. They need to dominate and do so consistently. They need to win trophies.
Liverpool look set to make the Champions League final where they’ll face either Bayern Munich or, more likely, Real Madrid. If that is indeed to be the final of club football’s most elite competition, Salah will go head-to0head with Ronaldo. He’ll see what it takes to be a great. Can he match him? The way this season’s progressed – perhaps. But Salah’s career achievements to date pale into insignificance when compared to the Portuguese’s. And to Messi’s.
Trophy wins are important in setting yourself apart as truly world class. But then so too is consistency. Messi’s Barcelona record is absurd. 378 goals and counting in just over 400 games. Eight league wins, four Champions League wins, six Copa del Reys and various Supercopa and Club World Cup medals. Plus five Ballon D’Ors and seemingly hundreds of Golden Boot awards.
Then there’s Ronaldo. 309 goals so far in 290 appearances for Real. And a list of trophies you probably don’t have time to read. Not only for his clubs, but for his country too.
Mo Salah is an outstanding player. That’s not up for debate. He just doesn’t deserve to be compared to Ronaldo or Messi. Not yet, at least.