Mohamed Salah has been told he can be Liverpool’s answer to Steven Gerrard in the Champions League final, while putting himself in Ballon d’Or contention, but Dietmar Hamann says the Egyptian is still operating in the shadow of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
A man with 44 goals to his name this season is readying himself for one final outing in what has been a remarkable debut campaign at Anfield, with Jurgen Klopp’s side due to face Zinedine Zidane’s reigning European champions in Kiev on May 26.
That contest will see two of world football’s brightest stars go head-to-head, with the fixture already being billed as Salah versus Ronaldo as two leading contenders for the title of best player on the planet prepare to lock horns in continental competition.
Hamann is looking forward to seeing two men performing at the peak of their powers showcase their talent, with the German, despite his strong ties to Liverpool, expecting a Portuguese phenomenon to show once again why he is considered to be one of the greatest of all time.
The 2005 Champions League winner told the Daily Mirror: “Everything Salah touches this season turns to goals – but in a game like this I would have to go with the old man [Ronaldo] because he’s done it so many times before.
“Salah has had an incredible season – and the hope at Anfield is that he’s got even better years ahead of him. But while the future belongs to Salah, the here and now still belongs to Ronaldo, a player with a proven track record.
“This is, however, an opportunity for Salah to really make his mark at the highest level.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than a Champions League final against Real Madrid, who are probably the most iconic club in the world.
“If Liverpool win then I think that Salah would become favourite to land the Ballon d’Or.
“But if you are asking me who I would rather have in my team at this moment in time then I would have to go for Ronaldo.”
Liverpool will be looking to Salah for inspiration against a side going in search of a hat-trick of Champions League crowns, with Hamann of the opinion that the 25-year-old could emulate the performance of Reds legend Gerrard from an iconic meeting with AC Milan.
He added: “If you want to win big trophies then you need your big players to step up when it matters. Liverpool have got other big talents like Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino – but Mo Salah is THE man.
“In that respect, he can inspire Liverpool against Madrid like Steven Gerrard did when we played Milan.
“If you are a goal or two behind – or three, like we were in Istanbul – you see someone like Gerrard alongside you and you know you’re still in the game.
“You know that you’ve got a team-mate with a special talent, someone who can create a goal out of nothing, or produce a bit of brilliance to get you back in the game.
“It’s hard to describe what kind of belief having those game-changing players in your team gives you.
“If you’ve got a goal-scorer of Mo Salah’s class in your side you know you’re never out of the game. It’s like having a talisman. Steven Gerrard was one – and Mo Salah can be one.”