2018 African footballer of the year, Mohamed Salah possesses similarities to Lionel Messi and can grow to become even better than the Argentine wizard if he tones down his obsession with goals, according to Arsene Wenger.
The former Arsenal boss, who lately proposed at a possible return to management in the international arena, believes the Reds attacker’s game is comparable to Messi’s but is still missing a few crucial ingredients. Aside from a few more goals, Wenger also stressed Salah has to learn when to go for goal himself and when to pass it to a teammate.
“He’s 20 goals away basically, if you want to be as concrete as possible,” Wenger told beIN Sports. “But he is similar to Messi. He must still find the consistency of Messi. I find him a just as good finisher but Messi is the complete thing – he gives the final ball as well and Salah is a bit obsessed now by finishing himself so that’s a dimension he’ll get certainly when he gets a little bit older.
“To find the moment when you have to give the ball and when you have to finish. I like him very much, he has huge potential.”
Salah was criticised in Liverpool’s recent 3-0 win over Burnley after failing to pass to Sadio Mane in the second half when his fellow attacker was in a far better position to score. While Salah is the star of the Reds frontline, Mane and Roberto Firmino have also been regular performers for Jurgen Klopp’s side with Wenger praising the Brazilian striker in particular for his selfless style of play.
“You forget the guy that sacrifices himself a little bit is Firmino. Like Luis Suarez did for Messi and Neymar. A guy that works for the team, that works for everybody and gets them to shine,” he said.
“This piece of the jigsaw is very hard to find – a striker that is generous.”
Since stepping aside from Arsenal’s job in 2018, Wenger has avoided jumping straight back into management but admits he remains obsessed with the beautiful game.
“I needed longer than I thought to take a distance from what I did before. To really let it settle,” Wenger said.
“I took a distance and realised I was living like somebody in a coma for 35 years and who woke up and saw something different in life other than just my club, my game and my work. I watch it still when I wake up in the morning – straight in my mind is football. My main interest is still there.”