Ahead of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League match against Napoli this evening Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has jokingly challenged teammate Mohamed Salah to score more hat-tricks and earn same stauts as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in world football.
The Egyptian netted 44 goals for the Reds across all competitions last season, including 32 in a 38-game Premier League campaign, but those tallies included just one hat-trick.
However, Salah’s form so far this season has been called into question, but Wijnaldum is sure that the former Roma forward will get his mojo back.
“I’ve told him that he’s got to get more hat-tricks – I’ve told him that! He’s had enough of scoring twos, he has to get three. I told him I expect more hat-tricks this season! If anyone can deal with pressure, it is Mo. Last season he had pressure when people were saying he had to be the top scorer of the league,” Wijnaldum told reporters.
Last season he had pressure when people were saying he had to be the top scorer of the league,” Wijnaldum told reporters.
“We told him he couldn’t let anyone catch him as top scorer. When he was on 18 goals, he said ‘In my head, I can get 32.’ Mo is not someone that is scared of pressure.
He embraces the pressure. He knows that he can do it. Last year, he only had one hat-trick. So I told him, ‘Mo, you are a top player; if you look at Messi and Ronaldo, they score a lot of hat-tricks – you have to do the same if you want to compete with them.’
“I said, ‘Mo, it’s not only one year’ and he said ‘You’re right!’ We were joking but I don’t see the difference in him. He still works hard, he still creates chances. I think he had scored one more [at this stage] last season than he has this year. That is the only difference.”
Currently, Salah has scored three goals in eight appearances for Liverpool so far in the 2018-19 season but his manager Jurgen Klopp is not worried about the form of the Egyptian.
“[The substitution] was tactical, he was not injured. It was not Mo’s best game of his career, 100 per cent,” Klopp told a news conference.
“But coming in a game like this, constantly in situations like he comes in, that makes a world-class player. You fail, you miss, whatever, that happens. No problem with that.
“But I want him so that he wants to be decisive, to score in these situations. You could see the first ball he missed a bit, it was not in the right position, and the next ball he passed! Why? He could have shot.
“It’s like riding a bike. It’s not that you wake up in the morning and you can’t finish, you can’t ride a bike any more. That’s how it is. You need to work for these moments when it’s clicking. That’s the period he’s in; no problem with that.”
At the end of last season, Salah picked up the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Fans’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards and only recently in London, his goal against Everton last season won the Pukas prize at The 2018 FIFA Best Awards.