Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are not the best of friends, admits Peter Crouch, with “competition” and “selfish” streaks at Liverpool considered to be a good thing.
Jurgen Klopp had to fend off more questions regarding the attitude of his superstar forwards after making second-half changes at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The defending Premier League champions eased to a 7-0 victory at Selhurst Park, with Mane among the scorers.
He was, however, replaced by Salah shortly before the hour mark and saw the Egyptian forward make history for the Reds by scoring two and laying on another during an impressive cameo.
Mane was less than impressed at being hauled off, having previously aired his frustration towards Anfield team-mate Salah, but Crouch believes in-house rivalry is healthy among an ambitious group of players.
The former Liverpool striker told the Daily Mail: “There is only a problem around something like this if a team are losing.
“Liverpool have won everything over the past two years and I would expect them to retain the Premier League, too, given the form they have hit. But don’t kid yourself that a competition isn’t going on between Salah and Mane.
“Every forward player is selfish and these two will want to score as many goals as they possibly can — Salah, in particular, looks obsessed with his numbers right now.
“Salah came here as a winger but he has developed into one of Europe’s most prolific forwards; a goal machine. He was in the right place for his first at Crystal Palace and his second, to complete the 7-0 rout, was absolutely beautiful.
“Mane’s face, having been substituted, was a picture. He was furious and rightly so, because when you smell blood as a striker, the last thing you want is to be taken off.
“Are he and Salah the best of friends? I doubt it. But it doesn’t matter. I had strike partners who I knew never liked me. It never prevented me getting on with my job.”
Salah has moved to the top of the Premier League scoring charts this season, with 13 efforts to his name in a Golden Boot race, while Mane is stuck on five.
They have helped Klopp’s men back to the top of the table, with the Reds filling the Christmas No.1 spot for a third successive campaign.