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Salah a serious rival to Messi and Ronaldo in Ballon d'Or battle, says former Liverpool great

Robbie Fowler has hailed the Egyptian’s efforts for club and country this season.

 Mo Salah (file pic).
Mo Salah (file pic).

MO SALAH IS a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or and FIFA Best prizes dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent years, says Robbie Fowler.

A remarkable debut campaign at Anfield has seen the Egypt international plunder 40 goals across all competitions, while also firing his country to the 2018 World Cup.

His talismanic efforts have earned him plenty of plaudits, and there is the potential of major honours to come as Liverpool chase down Champions League glory and he forms part of a six-man shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Salah is among the frontrunners for that particular prize, but Liverpool legend Fowler feels he could go one better in the months to come by earning recognition as not just the finest player in England, but the best on the planet.

The former Reds striker told the Daily Mirror: “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.”

Fowler added: “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.

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“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.”

Liverpool snapped up Salah for £36.9 million in the summer of 2017, with his efforts over the course of 2017-18 making that look like quite the bargain.

Fowler believes the 25-year-old is now part of the global elite, with his remarkable skill set making him comparable to Barcelona and Real Madrid superstars Messi and Ronaldo.

He added: “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?

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