I’m putting on the tin hat before suggesting this but Mo Salah surely deserves to be in the ¬running for the Ballon d’Or.
I’m not saying he’s going to win it, in fact I’m pretty sure he won’t the way the whole thing is structured.
But I am saying – passionately – that it’s time to look beyond the almost knee-jerk leaning towards Ronaldo or Messi.
Don’t get me wrong, they are two of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
People get misty eyed over the pair of them, and quite rightly. They have both had good years, and with a World Cup, both have the chance for an ¬outstanding one.
Yet so far, Salah has matched them, no doubt.
He’s probably got more chance of ¬winning the Best FIFA Men’s Player award, ¬because that is ¬in part selected by ¬international coaches. The Ballon d’Or votes are by journalists.
Even if you put what Mo has done at Liverpool to one side, he’s been astonishing. He has gone from being an ¬exciting, quality player, to a truly world-class one for Jurgen Klopp.
But it is his incredible role with Egypt that has caught my attention.
More so than Ronaldo or Messi, he has lifted an entire nation.
He scored two goals to take his country to the World Cup finals for only the third time in their history. Scotland have been there more often than that!
Salah is a hero back home. He has put Egypt back on the map.
I think international coaches will understand the magnitude of that better than ¬journalists who are working outside Africa.
For what he has achieved in terms of promoting ¬African football as a whole, he deserves to be in contention.
This is a vital demographic for the world game that gets cruelly overlooked – ¬despite producing incredible talent year after year.
Salah has been out of this world. That’s not me just being a rose-tinted Liverpool idiot (though yeah, I’m that too), that’s a striker recognising class in front of goal.
You can see exactly how good he is in the goals he scores. Look at the two City games. He was relatively quiet in both, yet in both matches, he scored the goal that turned the whole tie on its head. That’s what truly great players do. That’s why they are great players.
They do nothing for 80 minutes, and then produce something ¬sublime at the most suffocating pressure moment of the entire game. Consistently. Salah has done that.
As a striker if I analyse the goal he scored at the Etihad, then it tells me he’s gone to a different level. It was chaos in that penalty area, probably a penalty. Panic and ¬bodies everywhere.
Yet his composure in knowing where the ball would end up, and then exactly how Nicolas Otamendi would try to block, and lifting it delicately over him, was just mind-blowing.
I’d compare him to Luis Suarez, in that when he arrived, yes he missed chances. Scored plenty but missed more. Now, he doesn’t seem to miss any. That’s all about ¬confidence and ¬belief in yourself.
People questioned his fee, for someone who was dumped by ¬Chelsea. Perhaps that made him anxious, snatching at chances? The fee doesn’t seem so much now, does it?
Remember his goal against Porto, where he flicked it up then volleyed it in? The truly great strikers can slow things down to read what will happen around them. See all the angles quicker, better than anyone else.
It’s a gift. And a very rare one. So why shouldn’t he be named in the same golden breath as Ronaldo and Messi for this season?
Culled from Mirror (UK)