Mohamed Salah has as good a chance as any in the last few years of beating Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the prestigious Balon d’Or.
It’s been an amazing 2018 for Mo Salah so far with record-breaking performances for Liverpool but also helping Egypt reach the World Cup finals for the first time in 28 years.
Now he looks to see just how far he can take Egypt in Russia and further boost his hopes of winning the Ballon d’Or 2018 for the first time.
Record-breaking season with Liverpool
When Liverpool signed Salah from AS Roma, fans weren’t too sure what manager Jürgen Klopp was up to. He had a brief spell in the Premier League with Chelsea but failed to make an impact – not that he was given too many chances to prove himself.
He found some scoring form in Italy averaging a goal every other game but no one could have anticipated what he would do for Liverpool in his debut season. He scored 32 Premier League goals and ended the season with 44 strikes in 52 games, with ten in the Champions League.
No wonder he’s only 7/4 with 888sport to win the Ballon d’Or and break the stranglehold of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who have won the last ten awards between them.
It’s just a shame he had to go off early in the Champions League final with a shoulder injury but he’s helped transform Liverpool from a decent Premier League side to one that nearly became European Champions.
It’s not just Liverpool that have been transformed by the achievements of Mo Salah. Egypt last qualified for the World Cup finals in 1990 and that is the only time they have ever played in the finals before the emergence of Mo Salah.
Their lack of World Cup qualifications is quite surprising considering they won the African Cup of Nations three tournaments in a row between 2006 and 2010.
In 2011, Mo Salah made his international debut scoring his first goal in his second game. The influence he could have on Egyptian football was shown when he scored all three of their goals in the 2012 Olympic tournament getting them into the quarter-finals before losing to Japan.
He so nearly got them to the 2014 World Cup and was the joint top African goalscorer in the qualifying rounds. His influence was beginning to show more and more as he helped them to the runners-up spot in the 2017 African Cup of Nations and was named in the CAF Team of the tournament.
Qualification at last
The 2018 World Cup qualifying group finally saw Salah fire his side into the finals. He scored five of their eight goals and scored both goals in their decisive 2-1 victory over DR Congo, with the second goal being a last-minute penalty. That took Egypt into the finals for the first time in almost 30 years.
Salah has scored 33 goals in 57 internationals for Egypt and that’s one more than the rest of their World Cup squad has scored combined. He hasn’t played in their last four games and in that time, Egypt have scored just once, so it’s clear just how important he is for his country.
Salah is expected to recover from his shoulder injury and the entire nation will be hoping he can help Egypt reach the last sixteen of the World Cup for the first time. They face Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay so have a realistic chance if Salah is 100% fit.
The Liverpool attacker was outstanding for his club this year but his chances of winning the 2018 Ballon d’Or will be enhanced further if he also makes an impact in Russia.