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It’s been more than 10 years since anyone other than Messi and Ronaldo was crowned as the winner, with the duo setting remarkable standards on the international stage, in La Liga and in the UEFA Champions League.
Ronaldo and Madrid dashed Salah’s hopes of European glory with the Reds last month, when Los Blancos won the final 3-1 in Kiev, and the Egyptian was left the contest with a shoulder injury. Speaking about the Liverpool No. 11, the Portuguese was full of praise, per Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror.
“Salah has been one of the revelations of the year,” he said. “I hope his injury in the final in Kiev doesn’t keep him out (of the World Cup). Many people talk about the Cristiano Ronaldo-Messi battle but there are other players who have chances to enter the race (for Ballon d’Or). The Egyptian is one of them.”
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Many were tipping the Liverpool man as a contender for the accolade ahead of the Champions League final, as to that point he had enjoyed an incredible debut season for the Premier League side; he netted 44 goals in all competitions.
Jan Aage Fjortoft tipped Salah as a possible winner of the prize in April and also outlined just how consistent Ronaldo has been down the years:
Jan Aage Fjortoft @JanAageFjortoft
Mo Salah is a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or… He is. 10 goals in the Champions League. 43 in total this season. Just shows how great CRonaldo is. 15 goals this season in the Champions League. And over 40 goals…..EVERY season since 2011
Next season there will be a lot of scrutiny on Salah after he took the Premier League and European football by storm.
Teams in the top flight will put plans in place to nullify his influence, as he established himself as a world star at Anfield. Coping with that in his second season at the club will be one of a number of challenges he has to face in his second term on Merseyside.
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If he is going to be in the same conversations as Messi and Ronaldo going forward, he needs to replicate last season’s feats, if not better them. That’s because the La Liga duo have been posting similar numbers to Salah’s 44-goal haul for a while now.
101 Great Goals summed up the incredible consistency the Madrid star has shown in front of goal:
101 Great Goals @101greatgoals
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 50+ goals for club and country for 8 (EIGHT) seasons in a row: 10/11 – 56 11/12 – 69 12/13 – 59 13/14 – 62 14/15 – 66 15/16 – 57 16/17 – 56 17/18 – 50 Phenomenon. https://t.co/iXKAcU5c0t
As we can see courtesy of Squawka Football, Messi, who inspired Barcelona to La Liga and Copa del Rey glory this season, has reached similar levels:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Lionel Messi has scored 40 goals across all competitions for nine consecutive seasons: 2009/10: 47 2010/11: 53 2011/12: 73 2012/13: 60 2013/14: 41 2014/15: 58 2015/16: 41 2016/17: 54 2017/18: 40 🐐 https://t.co/dvisRg93Ll
Both Messi and Ronaldo are over the age of 30 now, and there will be eyes on the next generation to see who can succeed them at the pinnacle of the sport. But as of yet, neither of these football icons appear to show any signs of slowing down.
Salah has the potential to win the biggest individual prize in football should he score a similar amount of goals in 2018-19 and fire Liverpool to silverware. It’d be an extraordinary effort on his part to replicate the feats of his first season in all red, though.