Following his match-winning performance against AS Roma on Tuesday night, there’s been plenty of talk over whether Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is currently the world’s best footballer.
Some people - including both Steven Gerrard and, unexpectedly, the former Manchester United starlet Ravel Morrison - reckon the Egypt international *is* currently better than both Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
Others, though, feel that Salah still has a long way to go before he can be compared to football’s two extra-terrestrials, both of whom have produced the goods season in, season out for a decade now.
However, Salah has definitely put himself in early contention for the 2018 Ballon d’Or award following a string of magnificent performances for the Reds over the past four months.
In 47 matches this season, the 25-year-old has scored a quite remarkable 43 goals.
Salah is consistently turning in eye-catching performances in the biggest matches. In Liverpool’s 5-2 victory over Roma, it was the Egyptian who scored two goals and provided two assists to leave the Merseyside outfit with one foot in the Champions League final.
However, talk of a potential Ballon d’Or triumph might be a little premature. Liverpool have won nothing yet this season while there’s also the small matter of the World Cup finals in Russia this summer.
Roy Keane makes fair point about Salah and Ballon d'Or
In a World Cup year, the Ballon d’Or will often go to somebody who plays a significant role in the tournament, provided his club form has also been excellent over the calendar year.
One man who believes that people calling for Salah to win the Ballon d’Or are getting a little ahead of themselves is, unsurprisingly, the former Manchester United captain Roy Keane.
Speaking on ITV Sport on Wednesday night, Keane made the perfectly valid point that Salah will probably need to win the Champions League with Liverpool in order to stand any realistic chance of landing his hands on club’s football’s most prestigious individual accolade.
"I always look at the strikers playing well and he has been compared to Ronaldo and Messi," he said. "I think you still have to end up with one or two trophies with your club at the end of the season.
'He still has a bit more to do'
"Part of my make-up when I played with players was if my strikers are scoring 25-30 goals like Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, we have to win trophies.
"Liverpool haven't done that yet. If they end up winning the Champions League and he scores in the final, then start giving out the prizes.
"He still has to do a bit more for me and that is getting his hands on a trophy at club level."
It’s important to note that Keane is not criticising Salah; he’s merely stating the facts.
There’s every chance that Salah, who was named PFA Player of the Year earlier this week, will inspire Liverpool to glory in the Champions League next month.
And if that happens, Keane will hold his hands up and admit Liverpool's No. 11 has a serious chance of being crowned the world’s best player later this year.
Will Mohamed Salah win the 2018 Ballon d’Or? Have your say by leaving a comment below.