KIEV. – Jürgen Klopp has said Mohamed Salah can follow Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as a modern great, but that the forward’s only ambition must be sealing a phenomenal campaign for Liverpool with a starring role in the Champions League final.
Salah has scored 44 goals in his debut season as a Liverpool player, three short of the all-time club record set by Ian Rush in 1984.
The Egypt international has one more chance to catch Rush against Real Madrid in Kiev tonight when Liverpool aim to win the European Cup for a sixth time.
The 25-year-old has won the PFA and FWA Player of the Season awards and been tipped to become this year the first player since Kaká in 2007 to beat Ronaldo or Messi to the Ballon d’Or.
Klopp, however, is concerned only with what Salah can win in Ukraine.
“It is not important. No manager is interested in that – we are only interested in performing,” the Liverpool manager said when asked about the Ballon d’Or at his pre-final Press conference.
Messi and Ronaldo deserve all the praise because they were constantly over years on that level. Now they are 30-something, they are still keeping that level, but now everyone is waiting for the next one. Mo has the potential to go there over the next few years.
“This season was exceptional, unbelievable, but there is still one more game to go. The next few years will show if he can do something similar (to Messi and Ronaldo), but it is not that easy, otherwise more players would have done it.
‘’These two players are the most consistent on a higher level over the last 10 years and that makes them really special. Mo has had a good start, but we will see what happens in the next few years.”
Sergio Ramos, the Real Madrid captain, was dismissive of the idea that the Liverpool forward could be compared to his teammate or Barcelona rival after one stellar season.
“Comparing players with Ronaldo and Messi is something you can’t do, they’re in another orbit,” Ramos said.
“There are players who are in fashion, those who appear briefly and disappear and others who stay around. Salah is a top player, that’s clear. He’s shown that this year and he’s got a great chance to show that over the next few years as Ronaldo and Messi have done, but the day after tomorrow!”
As a devout Muslim, Salah has observed Ramadan since May 16 and would maintain his fast during daylight hours on the day of the final, although Klopp would not be drawn on whether that will be the case.
“Religion is private how I understand it,” Klopp said. “Nothing to say about that, but all is fine and you will see him in training, he is full of power.” – The Guardian.