“We deserved to win the final against Real”

“We deserved to win the final against Real”

In an interview with France Football, Mohamed Salah talks about his season, the Ballon d’Or, and his disappointment at having lost the Champions League final against Real Madrid. Extracts.

At 30, does he see himself playing at least 5 more seasons: “Even more! Look at the attention that these champions pay to their bodies… And they are the best in the world. Our sport has evolved so much in the last ten years. Before, 30 years was the beginning of the end. Now 35 is an attainable milestone, even for a striker from a very big club.”

He is in the form of his life: “For sure… I have really improved in the last few months. Last summer, on vacation in Greece, lying facing the sea, I wondered how to become a better footballer, which is increasingly difficult because I always have two or three defenders on my back. I have to invent new ways to open up the game in front of me, find other spaces… This also applies to assists, a notion that is very important to me. This thinking has paid off, my stats have improved.”

Benzema said he became the 9 he wanted to be. And him ? “This season, yes! I have scored a lot, I have never given so many assists. My game is more complete, there is a lot of risk taking in dribbling and shooting, but now I have a better idea of ​​when to try. the gesture that will hurt. Result: I lose the ball less often. I understand what Benzema is saying, he does not see himself just as a goalscorer, he knows that he has an impact on all aspects of Real’s game. Like others, I want to be seen as the best player in the world.”

He defends much more than Benzema: “Because our game is based on counter-pressing. You have to get the ball back as quickly as possible. I’ve been at Liverpool since 2017, Jürgen Klopp instilled this culture in us and it’s become a reflex. We lose the ball, I I rush at the opponent who has it in their feet or I run backwards to cut up space. No attacker likes to defend like that, but here it’s part of the contract. Attack, press, run everywhere , all together, our philosophy calls for an outpouring of energy. It has become natural to me.”

Where does his desire to be seen as the best player in the world come from? “I remember, when I left my country ten years ago, I was overflowing with motivation. I knew that I would have to be very strong, otherwise I was going to crash. I set myself one goal, then another. First, to win my place at FC Basel, then to become the best Egyptian player, then to be voted ”African player of the year”… Then, I said to myself that I could become the best African footballer in the world. “History. There is now the Ballon d’Or. I want to win it to join George Weah, the only African winner. If I succeed, I will aim for a second. This hunger, it comes from deep within me, I don’t need a trainer or anyone to satisfy it.”

The competition with Sadio Mané for the Ballon d’Or: “If we talk about rivalry between us, about selfishness, I totally disagree. I don’t know where it comes from… I have a good relationship with Sadio, we talk normally, we sit side by side in the dressing room. Our interest is that Liverpool win every game, so we try to pass the ball to each other to score as many goals as possible. Look for a player of my profile in the Premier League, you will not find one who addresses as much assists than me.”

The defeat in the Champions League final against Real Madrid: “We deserved to win, we had more chances. I got two or three pretty big ones but, each time, Thibaut Courtois made incredible saves. It’s his job, Real made it recruited for that. He deserved his title of man of the match. It was his evening. There again, I am inspired by the past. In 2018, we lost the final of the Champions League, already against Real Madrid and the following season, we are European champions. That’s what I’m aiming for. You always have to look ahead, not complain.”

The impact of this defeat on the race for the Ballon d’Or 2022: “It’s great to hear his name mentioned for the next Ballon d’Or. I’m not denying it, I want to be recognized as the best player in the world. And the Ballon d’Or is number one of my goals. It’s true that I was shocked by my 2021 ranking (he finished 7th). For this year, this defeat against Real Madrid is certainly a handicap, even if I had a good match in final. But it doesn’t cancel everything I’ve achieved for months. Let’s wait for the jury’s vote. And if I’m not Ballon d’Or in 2022, I’ll do everything to be next.”

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