LIVERPOOL

Gary Neville: Salah’s mentality sets him apart from the rest

The Liverpool forward looked better than ever in his first Premier League appearance of the season and Gary Neville believes he could soon be the best in the world.

Gary Neville: Salah’s mentality sets him apart from the rest
SHAUN BOTTERILL AFP

Liverpool’s title defence got off to a winning start against Leeds United thanks to an opening day hat trick from Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian debuted a sharp new haircut at Anfield on Saturday and began his campaign in similar style.

Special Salah

Speaking after the game Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was full of praise for the forward who turned 28 this summer. “He’s a very, very special player. The numbers tell a little bit of the story but all the rest around it you may not know. Today’s a good example, yes he put three more goals on his score list but the performance around was absolutely exception in a game like this. He was constantly pressing, causing opponents massive problems and was top in one-on-one situations.”

The three strikes brought his Liverpool tally to 97 in just 154 appearances for the club. If it takes him fewer than ten games to notch three more goals he will become the third-fastest player to 100 Liverpool goals and the fastest to do so in the Premier League era.

He has reached the 20-goal mark in each of his previous three seasons on Merseyside and won two Premier League Golden Boots in that time, boasting an average of 0.63 goals per game in all competitions.

Neville: “He is an absolute killer on the pitch”

Speaking on Sky Sports on Monday evening, former Manchester United player Gary Neville outlined what sets the Egyptian apart from other top talent: "You think about the mentality difference between Mané and Salah… Mané is likeable. I think the players probably love him and he gives his all every single day. He'll do the selfless thing for the team. Then you look at Salah over the other side. He doesn't pass sometimes to his team-mates. He's a little bit more selfish and a little bit less likeable because of that.. But then, I look at him as an outsider and I'm thinking that he is an absolute killer on the pitch.”

He added that Salah’s elite mindset puts him in the very top bracket of elite players, something that Neville recognises from playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus forward and Lionel Messi have dominated the debate around the world’s best for the last decade but both are now in their mid-thirties. Neville believes that Liverpool’s ‘Egyptian King’ could soon wear that crown: "[Kylian] Mbappé is fantastic. Neymar, he's up and down a bit. Where is the best player in the world going to be in the next couple of years? And he’s not far away from it anyway, but to me on Saturday he looked like an absolutely different level in that game."

Liverpool’s next game sees them face Chelsea, with whom Salah had an unsuccessful spell from 2014 to 2016. The change in Salah’s game since his days as an inconsistent winger is remarkable and he will want to put his former side to the sword. He has only scored once in his last six appearances against Chelsea but he will fancy his changes of continuing his fine start to the season next weekend.