The national coach of Egypt believes a talismanic figure in his squad is a serious contender for the title of best player on the planet in 2019
If Liverpool star Mohamed Salah helps Egypt to Africa Cup of Nations glory then “no-one can keep the Ballon d’Or away from him”, says Javier Aguirre.
The 27-year-old has enjoyed another memorable season in 2018-19.
On a personal level, he was unable to scale the heights of a debut campaign at Anfield which delivered 44 goals in all competitions and a PFA Player of the Year prize.
Salah was, however, to help Liverpool to Champions League glory and himself to a share of another Premier League Golden Boot.
He is now chasing down international honours on home soil and Egypt boss Aguirre believes another winners’ medal will see the Reds forward recognised as the finest player on the planet.
“I see him so far struggling and struggling hard to win the Ballon d’Or. Why not? He is a Champions League winner with Liverpool,” Aguirre told reporters.
“If he can lead Egypt to the African Cup of Nations, no one can keep the Ballon d’Or away from him.”
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Salah missed training on Thursday with Egypt with a cold but is expected to lead the charge when the Pharaohs face South Africa in the last 16 on Saturday.
He has recorded two goals in the Africa Cup of Nations so far and Aguirre has refuted suggestions that his side – who are yet to concede – have been short on firepower as a collective.
“We have scored goals in 10 of the 11 matches since I have been in charge,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to win each match 5-0, very difficult.”
Aguirre will be hoping to see his side offer some threat in the final third against South Africa, with there acknowledgment on his part that Egypt are under pressure to deliver success in front of an expectant home support.
The Mexican added: “All the players have the same idea when they play against Egypt – that they have nothing to lose.
“That’s the way they play against us – we are playing at home, we are the favourites, we have Salah, and they have nothing to lose.
“It’s very important that we know how to handle this situation.”