Former Liverpool star Michael Owen has tipped Mohamed Salah for the 2018 Ballon d’Or if Jurgen Klopp’s side win the Champions League final.
He became the first player to score at least 32 goals in a 38-game Premier League campaign, winning the Golden Boot in the process, and was rewarded for his form with the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and the FWA Footballer of the Year prize.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has shared the Ballon d’Or between them each year since 2007, but Owen believes Salah could be the man to end the duopoly.
Asked if Salah has a chance of winning the prize, Owen, speaking courtesy of Sports Tonight/Dubai Eye 103.8, told Omnisport: “Absolutely. I mean, the way he’s playing, let’s put it this way: he’s got the ability, and he deserves to win it.
“It just depends on what medals he wins at the end of the season. You can have a great season [but] if you win nothing, then you’re very unlikely. You need a goodwill cup or to win the Champions League.
“But if Liverpool win the Champions League, he’d have a right chance I think. Because he’s done it for Egypt, he’s had a good year for his national team and of course he’s been sensational for Liverpool as well.”
The year 2007 is also the last time Liverpool contested a Champions League final, when they lost 2-1 to AC Milan.
They meet back-to-back winners Madrid in Saturday’s showdown in Kiev, having overcome Porto, Manchester City and Roma across three thrilling knockout ties this season.
Owen is wary of the experience of Madrid, another of his old clubs, but he thinks Liverpool’s style of play makes them play better against stronger opposition.
“I find it really hard to predict,” he said. “I know people will have Real Madrid down as favourites but I think it is a toss of a coin. I just think Liverpool are so perfectly shaped for knockout football, one-off football, particularly against good teams.
“Liverpool have shown why they haven’t won the league this year is not because of how they do against the big boys, it’s breaking down defences that just sit back.
“Real Madrid can play in any way, really. They can beat a team five, six-nil twice quite easily. They’re not going to do that to Liverpool but they can also grind out a result.
“They are the masters of winning. They understand how to win, they’re experienced. Liverpool are probably more one dimensional, in terms of they attack, and they attack, and that’s pretty much what they do.
“But I keep going back to it: one-off games, against good teams, I don’t think there’s a better team in the world of football than Liverpool.”