Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah has the ability to match the sustained level of performance Cristiano Ronaldo has managed to achieve.
Salah’s Liverpool visit Ronaldo’s Manchester United in the Premier League’s headline fixture on Sunday.
The Egypt forward has been in sensational form this season, scoring 12 goals in all competitions, with seven of those coming in eight top-flight matches.
Salah’s tally includes brilliant individual goals against Manchester City and Watford in his last two Premier League outings and, while Ronaldo hit the ground running in his second spell at United in terms of goalscoring, the 36-year-old has been part of a disjointed Red Devils attack.
At this moment, Salah’s all-round game seems to be at its peak. He has provided four assists from 25 chances created and has outperformed his expected goals (xG) value by some way (12 goals from an xG of 9.0).
Klopp insists he has never thought to compare Salah and Ronaldo, though he believes the professionalism and commitment of the duo is one area in which the players are very similar.
Asked if Salah could hit the levels of continued success that Ronaldo has enjoyed late into his career, Klopp said: “You need luck, because things can happen with injuries and so on, but I think the professionalism of both Mo and Cristiano is the one thing you can compare 100 per cent.
“It is probably the same. Mo is incredibly professional. He is really the first one in and very often the last out of all the players.
“He is constantly interested in all the things he can do and has to do to keep or improve the standard. I think he still has a lot to give, 100 per cent.
“It helps him for sure and the team he is playing for then as well and I hope it is for us [in the future].”
Salah scored another fantastic individual goal in Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid in midweek, becoming the first player in the club’s history to score in nine consecutive matches across all competitions.
“It’s true that I have been blessed with incredible players during my time but, no, when the ball went over all players in that situation and Mo had to already run pretty quick to get it before the sideline and then he turns, it didn’t look for me like a proper goalscoring opportunity to me,” Klopp added.
“But challenge by challenge it developed into that. That’s the situation and that is the difference between a moment when momentum is not on your side and when momentum is on your side.
“It is all about the quality of Mo in this moment to do it, to try it and you can imagine how much all the players of Atletico knew about this ability and wanted to defend it desperately and still couldn’t do it.
“That is pretty special, pretty special. I am really happy and more than fine with the players I could watch during my time, and being quite positive when they got the ball, that something special will happen.”
Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season (two in the FA Cup, one in the Premier League) – no Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive games at Old Trafford.
Liverpool head to Manchester unbeaten in 18 league games, the longest current run in the top four tiers of English football (W13 D5).
Away from home, Liverpool have scored at least three goals in each of their last five Premier League games (17 in total), with only United last season having a longer such run in the competition (six).