Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren believes Mohamed Salah has elevated himself into the same bracket as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo this season.
The Egypt international took his tally in an incredible debut season for the Reds to 43 with two goals — as well as two assists — from his best performance of the campaign in Tuesday’s 5-2 Champions League semi-final, first-leg win over Roma.
Many bookmakers have made Salah joint-favourite to win the Ballon d’Or alongside Real Madrid’s five-time winner of the award Cristiano Ronaldo. Lovren agrees.
“He is the one. He is becoming the superstar. It looks easy what he does, but it is very difficult,” said the Croatia international.
“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 the credit, but I think he deserves even more, to be honest. Forty-three goals guys, fucking hell!”
Salah was central to an exhilarating display on another famous European night, but there were numerous other top-class performances, with Roberto Firmino, who also scored twice to take his tally to 27, and captain Jordan Henderson also hugely influential.
Anfield was shaken to its foundations by a brilliant 33-minute spell either side of half-time when the rampant Reds scored five goals and Roma looked down and out, until two late goals gave them a glimmer of hope for the second leg.
Lovren admits it was a game the players enjoyed as much as the fans.
“To be honest, you feel powerful, you feel strong when you look around and see the players next to you,” he added.
“We have big names. We don’t maybe have lots of superstars, but it is not about the name, it is how we perform on the pitch.
“You know how we will react when we don’t have the ball and then we will not be afraid of anything else.
“You can see the system working, definitely. Every training session, every game, we feel we are more comfortable and more confident.
Defender Trent Alexander-Arnold said he had not played in a more enjoyable game, up to when Roma scored.
“It was just free-flowing. There was not a lot of thought going into it and it was natural and that was the main thing for the team. It was unbelievable,” he said, said the 19-year-old, who was at a loss to put into words the quality of Salah’s two goals.
“He’s a credit to himself. He works hard in training and we see it on a daily basis in training, so we’re getting used to it,” he added.
“It is world-class stuff from him and the whole team to be honest.
“That last finish I think he’s done three times in the last few weeks now, so maybe keepers are getting on to it, but to have that composure in front of goal — he was outside the box when he hit it and running at speed — was an unbelievable finish.”
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