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Mo Salah poses serious threat to Benzema’s Ballon d’Or bid

The Liverpool forward is the top scorer in the Premier League and still in with a chance of collecting four winners’ medals this season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 19: ( THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates  after scoring the fourth goal   during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on April 19, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Andrew PowellGetty

“He’s the greediest player I’ve ever seen,” legendary Liverpool captain Graeme Souness said in his post-match analysis of last night’s 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United. Mohamed Salah was on target twice at Anfield, bagging his 30th goal of the season (in all competitions) with a deft dink over De Gea. It’s the third time that Salah has breached the 30-goal mark during his five seasons on Merseyside - that brings him level with Robbie Fowler (31 - 1994/5, 36 - 1995/6 and 31 - 1996/7); Roger Hunt and Ian Rush both managed it five times, but they were at the club longer - Sir Roger spent 11 seasons at Liverpool and Rush, 15 in two separate spells.

Salah is the top scorer in the Premier League with 22 goals - five more than his nearest rival, Spurs’ Son Heung-Min. So he is on course for his third Golden Boot and his brace against United leaves him one goal away from pulling level with Steven Gerrard’s Premier League tally of 120 goals

Apart from a brief blip after Egypt’s disappointments in the Africa Cup of Nations final and missing out on qualification for the World Cup, Salah is enjoying another scintillating season - 22 goals and 12 assists in the English top flight. He’s already picked up an EFL Carabao Cup winners’ medal and Liverpool have a golden opportunity to collect more silverware before the season is out - they are in the FA Cup final, the Champions League semi-finals and neck-and-neck with City in the battle to be crowned Premier League champions.

Salah: goals, assists, silverware

Potentially, Liverpool can play a maximum of 10 games between now and the end of the season - if they reach the Champions League final. As Jürgen Klopp pointed out after last night’s game, that is practically playing a match every three days - nevertheless, the chance is there for the Reds to win more trophies, and for Salah to add to his own personal goals/assists figures. His career best was in 2017/18 when he ended on 44 goals in all competitions - just three short of Rush’s club record for goals in one season.

All of that boosts Salah’s credentials for winning this year’s Ballon d’Or. He is Karim Benzema’s main rival to win the award. The Real Madrid striker is in the form of his life and having a superb season - and so is Salah. It could end up being a close call and when it comes to voting, it may boil down to how many trophies they have won. That would favour the Egyptian if Liverpool reap more success in their remaining competitions as Salah has the chance to win a total of four titles whereas Benzema can only win a maximum of two.

It’s also important to remember that the voting criteria for the Ballon d’Or has changed since last year’s edition. The idea is to make it fairer. Now, only correspondents from federations/associations in the top 100 of the FIFA Men’s world ranking will vote. Personal achievements plus the achievements of the team will be assessed. Opinions from former professional players will be taken into consideration and the performances over the season as a whole will count rather than over a natural year.

Salah will have huge support from the Arab world and also the Premier League, who think it’s unreasonable that the best player in the best league has never won the Ballon d’Or. In last year’s event, Salah ended seventh - unfairly in many commentators’ eyes, and similarly for Benzema who finished fourth. This year it’s looking likely that both will probably end up on the podium after what is turning into very close contest.