Mohamed Salah’s form in the Premier League this season has been nothing short of extraordinary.
The Egyptian forward has scored 15 goals and registered nine assists so far in the league. This has led many fans and pundits alike to laud Liverpool’s talisman as the best player in the world right now.
Chelsea Women’s boss Emma Hayes is the latest to have her say on the debate.
Hayes will be part of Amazon Prime Video’s punditry team when Leicester face Liverpool on December 28th at the King Power stadium, and she spoke with GiveMeSport Women ahead of the fixture.
There are a plethora of world-class forwards across Europe at the moment. Lionel Messi recently won a record seventh Ballon d’Or title, while Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe are all goal-scoring machines.
Hayes, however, thinks defenders don’t get enough recognition when it comes to the world’s best player conversation, and the domestic-treble winning manager emphasised how football is a team game.
“You know what, it’s a team game. So, I always feel that every defender [and] every midfielder gets sold short around this conversation. He’s [Salah] a wonderful player and adds a lot to Liverpool. I think individual recognition or statements around that, I’ll leave to someone else. Because I think it’s clear that he is part of a wonderful team.”
Unfortunately for Jurgen Klopp, Salah could be unavailable for more than a month when the Africa Cup of Nations starts in the new year.
Questions have been raised over the need for Liverpool to bolster their squad with fresh reinforcements in January, with Sadio Mane also set to be absent.
West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen and Leeds’ Raphinha have both been linked with a move to Merseyside but Hayes doesn’t think Liverpool necessarily need to make panic signings.
“It takes time to settle players,” she said. “Klopp has a great group and some great youngsters –– sometimes bringing in players at this time of the year doesn’t translate into anything successful because in most situations it takes players months to be able to settle.
Klopp’s got an amazing group and I’m sure he knows what potential he has beyond those players that are going away.
Given Liverpool are going to lose some of their key players over the January period, Klopp may be forced to change his approach tactically and perhaps even trial certain players in new positions.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is another who has been in pristine form this season and pundits have regularly suggested the English star is capable of playing further forward and more centrally.
Hayes is renowned for using members of her squad in multiple positions and stressed that Alexander-Arnold has an exceptional range of passing. Yet, the Chelsea Women’s boss isn’t entirely sure whether he has the capability to play elsewhere on the pitch.
“My answer to this is always going to be the same,” she said. “Because I’m a coach, I don’t see him every day to know that answer. What I will say is he is a wonderful passer of the ball [and] a wonderful crosser of the ball. And his ability to go up and down that right-hand side has been exceptional.
“He’s talented, he’s bright, I’m sure he could play many positions. But I think whether he could be converted, only those that coach and play with him every day would know.”
Leicester vs Liverpool is live tonight on Prime Video, with kick-off at 20:00 GMT.