MANCHESTER: Apologizing as he left the Etihad Stadium for not eulogising about another matchwinning performance, Mohamed Salah was ever the reluctant hero.
But teammates were not so coy about extolling the qualities of Liverpool’s talisman, one integral to their march toward the Champions League semifinals — and the new king of the Kop.
A 39th goal of a remarkable debut season helped the Reds overcome Manchester City 2-1 on Tuesday, sealing a stunning 5-1 aggregate last-eight success against their Premier League rivals, and saw Salah lauded among football’s finest such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Quiet and humble off the pitch, the Egyptian frontman, 25, has done his talking on it with repeated inspirational displays to lift Jurgen Klopp’s men to greater heights.
“He’s just unbelievable,” Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold told Arab News.
“He seems like he’s always there in the right place at the right time. It’s no coincidence. He works hard in training for that, he knows where to be at the right time.
“If it was only five or 10 games he was doing it, maybe it would be a fluke, but it’s 39 goals this season
and we look forward to seeing him doing more.
“It’s hard to compare with Messi and Ronaldo because they’ve done it 10-15 years now and stayed at the highest level. This season Mo has competed at the same level and, at times is pushing on being better than them in terms of form.
“It’s an incredible thing to do and you don’t really hear it that often — only a certain number of players can do that.
“It’s a credit what he’s done this season and hopefully he can carry that on next season too.”
But Salah, Alexander-Arnold and Liverpool are not finished yet with this campaign.
As well as bidding to secure a top-four spot in the Premier League with Bournemouth to visit Anfield at the weekend, they eagerly await their opponents in today’s Champions League draw.
And, having beaten Pep Guardiola’s City so convincingly, Alexander-Arnold said reigning champions Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Salah’s former club Roma should worry about the Reds as they pursue a sixth trophy in the competition — the last one coming in that famous comeback win over AC Milan in 2005.
“This (win over City) shows we can beat anyone on our day when we get the tactics right and when the team executes it perfectly,” added the 19-year-old Liverpool-born defender.
“We have shown we will be a hard team to stop.
“As a team, we have probably weathered a few storms this season and now we are looking at a semifinal of the Champions League.
“There’s been losses and results we have not been happy with and we have shown that we can bounce back — that’s important for any team. The first half against City was us weathering the storm and in the second half we showed our character and got the win.
“That’s three games against City now we have beaten them and they’re a really good side. It also shows what we can do next season.
“We are looking forward to whoever we draw in the semi finals and hopefully we will get the win again.”
He added: “It would mean everything to win this trophy. It’s the only silverware we have got left to fight for and we will give it all we have got to win it.
“We are three games away now to win this trophy six times for Liverpool.
“It’s a dream to be in this position.
“Every young lad dreams of doing this for the club and especially the one you’ve grown up supporting.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold wants to justify Jurgen Klopp’s faith in him by continuing to tame football’s wonder wingers.Outstanding displays in both legs against the much-vaunted Leroy Sane helped Liverpool claim a 5-1 aggregate win over Manchester City in the Champions League quarterfinals. But right back Alexander-Arnold, right, who trained with England’s senior squad last month after only making his Reds first-team debut in 2016, believes there is more to come.
“When you are playing against world-class players you get a lot of belief when you do well,” said the 19-year-old. “But that only comes from experience and the more games you play the more experience you gain and the more accustomed to the role you become. “It’s exciting to know you are coming up against some of the world’s best players week in, week out. You can’t really have fear against them. “You’ve got to go into the games and believe in yourself and prove why the manager has trusted you to play.
“There’s another level to get to and there will be a lot more hard work to achieve it.”