Thursday 17 January 2019

'For us to win the Champions League would be huge, I don't care about the rest' - Mo Salah

Hotshot Salah eyes glory for club above Golden Boot

Mohamed Salah stands in front of The Kop after scoring again (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Mohamed Salah stands in front of The Kop after scoring again (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Mo Salah (left) loops his header above the despairing dive of Bournemouth goalkeeper. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Simon Hughes

Ok, Mohamed, we know the team is important, that there are 10 others beside you on any given matchday and all that really matters is a Liverpool victory. We also know there are four league games to play - possibly seven in total. We know nothing is settled yet.

Forty goals, though, Mohamed, and you're the fastest player in Liverpool's history to reach that landmark. What does it mean?

"It's a great feeling. Of course, it's a great feeling. But you know I said in the end I am happy to score, happy to help the team, that's it."

Forty-seven, Mohamed! Forty-seven - that's Ian Rush's record in one season. Can you do it?

"It's also very close, it's just seven goals. But let's see! It's still, I don't know how many games there is to go, but we have the Premier League and semi-finals of the Champions League to play. I will try my best to score again and help the team."

It was that sort of conversation on Saturday evening after Liverpool had worn Bournemouth down to the point of submission.


Salah's mood was much chirpier and his approach far more engaging than the quotes might suggest when read out loud.

His English is perfect, his accent a smooth Arabic rhyme. He comes across as being shy and modest, but that does not mean he is not driven or smart.

You sense he doesn't really want to say anything that could compromise the possibilities in the next few weeks, something he might regret.

Maybe this will change if he wins the Golden Boot. There will be a collective success to discuss if Liverpool take the Champions League as well.

Presently, Salah is letting his football do the talking for him.

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When Liverpool supporters fell in love with Fernando Torres it was because of his goals, but also because he seemed to understand the values of the club.

When Liverpool supporters fell in love with Luis Suarez, it was because of his goals, but it was also because of the feeling he was misunderstood - much like Liverpool as a city itself.

Liverpool supporters are falling in love with Salah because his achievements this season have eclipsed the other two. His achievements are truly astonishing.

Salah admitted that he thinks about the Golden Boot.

"Of course, I cannot lie - it is in my mind," he said, going a little further before returning to the stock answers.

"But you know, you can see today with the team everyone tries to pass the ball to me to help me.

"I am also sure that Tottenham's players try to help Harry Kane, and also Manchester City's try to help Sergio Aguero.

"It's like that, but in the end, we play as a team."

As Salah was speaking, Virgil van Dijk strode past at just the right moment. Van Dijk did not join the discussion but he offered his opinion on why his team-mate has been able to set such high standards.

"Lucky," van Dijk said casually, smirking.

Perhaps this, everything else said by Salah and indeed Jurgen Klopp in another room reflects the relationships in this Liverpool team that contributes towards the 'anything is possible' atmosphere, but only if you can stay humble.

There is, in fact, a need to "stay angry", as Klopp says. At Liverpool praise can often come too soon when the good times start to roll and with praise, as Joe Fagan once said, "you soften the b**tards up."

Fagan, of course, was the Liverpool manager that won the European Cup in Rome against AS Roma.

Salah would credit others for his own success.

"You know you can see with Bobby Firmino, he scores a lot of goals this season. It's also a different season for him. I think the way we play it gives us more chances to score. The way we play helps us a lot to be in front of the goal all the time."

Maybe it is James Milner's emergence that tells you what you need to know about the mood inside Klopp's Liverpool.

Who would have thought six months ago that Milner would become a key midfielder again, that he'd enter Twitter, wind up Evertonians in his first posts, and then start on Kane using emojis?

"Another hat-trick for Mo today," Milner wrote on Saturday even though Salah had only scored once. "Just waiting for the other two to be confirmed by the claims panel."

Salah had himself used social media to express his surprise at the awarding of a goal at Stoke to Kane, who had challenged his own team-mate to earn it.

At Liverpool, meanwhile, you have Salah chasing records and Trent Alexander-Arnold taking free-kicks off him.

The right-back is 19 years old. It leaves behind an impression that Salah and this Liverpool side is desperate to achieve something together.

"To win the Champions League is huge for everyone," Salah concluded. "I don't care about the rest." (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

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