Liverpool star Mohamed Salah refused to rule out a move to LaLiga champions Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Salah has been a revelation since joining Liverpool from Serie A side Roma in 2017, spearheading the Reds to Champions League and Premier League glory.

The Egypt international's exploits have not gone unnoticed at Anfield amid speculation linking him with Spanish giants Madrid and Barca.

Asked if he could rule out a transfer to either of the LaLiga powerhouses, Salah told Diario AS: "I think Madrid and Barcelona are two top clubs. 

"Who knows what will happen in the future, but right now I am focused on winning the Premier League and the Champions League with Liverpool again."

Pressed on his future and how much longer he sees himself playing for Liverpool, Salah replied: "That's a tough question, but right now I can say that everything is in the hands of the club. 

"Of course I want to break records here and, I repeat, all the club records, but everything is in the hands of the club."

Salah has scored a joint-high 11 Premier League goals for reigning champions Liverpool this season, following his strike in the 2-1 win over rivals Tottenham midweek.

The 28-year-old has netted 14 across all competitions as leaders Liverpool prepare for Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace.

In 21 Premier League appearances in December, Salah has scored 17 goals and assisted a further nine, averaging a goal or assist every 66 minutes. It is his best goal involvement ratio in any month in which he has played more than one game, per Opta.

"I would like to break all the club records, that would be fine. But yeah, it's like I said, the team comes first before any record," Salah said. "But breaking records and winning matches, that's great too."

Liverpool top the table by three points, ahead of Tottenham after 13 games, and Salah added: "I think it is a bit early to say that [Liverpool are title favourites], but yes, we are doing well just like other teams. 

"I hope we have the best chance of winning it."

Liverpool claimed a big win in the Premier League title race on Wednesday, as the champions saw off Tottenham to take a three-point lead at the top.

The Reds will look to extend their unbeaten run in the top flight to 10 matches when they face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah is likely to play a key role for Liverpool, while Raheem Sterling is aiming to set a record at Manchester City and the duo headline our Opta-powered Premier League fantasy picks for matchweek 14.

 

MOHAMED SALAH

Salah has scored in all three of Liverpool's games in December so far, and is averaging a goal or assist every 66 minutes in the month across his Premier League career.

It is the best ratio in any month in which he has played more than one match.

Salah already has 11 league goals to his name this term, sitting top of the charts along with Son Heung-min and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

RAHEEM STERLING

Sterling created City's goal on Tuesday, with a neat cross for Ilkay Gundogan to sweep home his first Premier League goal in nearly a year, but Pep Guardiola's team could only draw 1-1.

It left them eight points adrift of pace-setters Liverpool, though Sterling is well in the hunt for a club record.

The England forward has been directly involved in 148 goals under Guardiola in all competitions, and is looking to become the first player to reach 150 during the Spaniard's time at City.

 

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG

Arsenal are in dismal form heading into Saturday's contest with Everton, who have won their last two outings – against Chelsea and Leicester City respectively.

Mikel Arteta's team ended a three-game losing streak when they drew at home to Southampton, though it is now six matches without a top-flight win for the Gunners.

One positive is that Aubameyang netted the equaliser against the Saints – just his third league goal of the season. He has scored four times in as many starts against Everton – he only has more goals against Burnley (seven) and Watford (six) in the Premier League than the Toffees.

 

CALLUM WILSON

An alternative to Aubameyang could be Wilson, who has been directly involved in 10 Premier League goals in 11 appearances for Newcastle United.

His seven goals and three assists mean he has contributed to seven more goals than any other Magpies player so far.

Newcastle take on Fulham on Saturday, with Scott Parker's team having drawn their last two games - versus Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion.

 

HARRY KANE

Before bursting onto the Premier League scene with Tottenham, Kane spent time on loan with Leicester, and against no club has he scored more in all competitions.

Kane has netted 16 times against the Foxes – five more than against any other team.

With Spurs having failed to win their last two games, their talisman will be determined to continue that form and get Mourinho's men back on track, though Leicester will be no pushovers.

PATRICK BAMFORD

Leeds United forward Bamford moved onto nine league goals for the season when he drew Marcelo Bielsa's team level with Newcastle on Wednesday.

The Whites went onto win 5-2 and, since Bielsa took charge of Leeds in 2018, no player has scored more goals for the club than Bamford.

In 85 appearances across all competitions, the former Chelsea forward has 35 goals.

 

PEDRO NETO

Diogo Jota's departure to Liverpool and Raul Jimenez's head injury means there is extra onus on Wolves' remaining attackers, and Neto delivered the goods with a last-gasp winner against Chelsea last time out.

Neto has been directly involved in as many goals in 13 Premier League appearances this season – three goals, three assists– as he was in 29 games last season, when he scored four times and set up another two goals.

Roberto Firmino's late header put Liverpool top of the Premier League table as Tottenham were beaten 2-1 at Anfield.

Son Heung-min's contentious first-half equaliser looked to have kept Spurs at the summit on goal difference after Mohamed Salah's 14th goal of the season put the champions in front.

Firmino rose to head home Andy Robertson's corner in the 90th minute to dramatically win it, though, and put the Reds three points clear of Jose Mourinho's side.

Spurs felt Firmino's goal should have been ruled out for a foul by Jordan Henderson on Eric Dier when Robertson's delivery came in, but Spurs' 11-match unbeaten run in the top flight came to a halt.

Both teams struck the woodwork through Steven Bergwijn and Sadio Mane in the second half before Firmino won it.

A team not so long ago considered an unstoppable force meets one now deemed an immovable object when Liverpool host Tottenham on Wednesday, a battle of the Premier League top two in a race that feels like it will be a case of survival of the fittest.

The Reds have won the previous four league meetings between the teams, all by a solitary goal. However, that was then – now they are stretched by injuries amid a demanding schedule that is only getting busier in the coming weeks.

This is also the first time Spurs have visited Anfield during Jose Mourinho's reign. The Portuguese has had his successes at the ground in previous roles, though a 3-1 defeat on Merseyside ended his Manchester United tenure.

If there were any concerns that Tottenham were appointing yesterday’s man when choosing for Mourinho to replace Mauricio Pochettino, they have been dismissed by results so far in the 2020-21 season.

The north London club stuttered out of the gate with a home loss to Everton, but since then are unbeaten in the league. That run has included victories over both Manchester clubs, as well as rivals Arsenal. There was a draw – including a clean sheet – at Mourinho's former employers Chelsea, too.

Mourinho has devised a cunning plan: defend in numbers, deny space through the middle and yet still maintain a consistent threat on the counter, utilising runners against defensive lines pushing high due to a dominance of possession to sucker punch opponents. Liverpool, minus Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, may be ripe for the picking.

KANE ABLE TO SCORE AND CREATE

It is hardly a surprise that Harry Kane holds the key for Spurs. The talismanic striker has scored nine league goals this term. His long-range strike against Crystal Palace on Sunday means he has been involved in 14 (eight goals and six assists) in his past eight away league games. 

The England international's playmaking abilities have garnered plenty of attention, and rightly so. He is creating 1.9 chances (including assists) per 90 minutes in the 2020-21 season so far, more than double his tally for the previous campaign. 

In part, this has been a function of continuing the pattern of dropping deeper into midfield, as demonstrated with the opener he created for Son Heung-min against Arsenal.

Per Opta's zonal maps for time spent in certain areas of the pitch, Kane has spent 19.11 per cent of league games in a central position between the opposing team's penalty area and the halfway line. That is actually a slight decrease from 2019-20, when the figure was 20.91 per cent. 

He is spending slightly less time inside the box (5.93 per cent compared to 7.08 per cent), yet his total shots have risen – 2.8 to 3.9 – along with his goals ratio, sitting at 0.8 per 90 minutes through 12 appearances.

And on top of that, Kane's 18 Premier League goals (excluding penalties) since Mourinho's appointment is a significant 5.1 increase on his expected goals (xG) figure, further highlighting his ruthlessness in attack.

But that's not to say Spurs are relying only on the England star. Son's relationship with Tottenham's talisman has proven vital so often, with their 12 goal combinations this term already just one off equalling the all-time record for a single campaign.

The South Korea star's dynamism in the final third makes him the ideal partner for Kane: as he drops deeper, Son's pace and off-the-ball movement frequently helps create overloads and goalscoring opportunities.

Mourinho has managed to exploit this, though Son's finishing ability has also proven a key factor as evidenced by the fact his 18 Premier League goals under the Portuguese manager is, remarkably, almost double his xG rating of 9.3.

The Reds will almost certainly have to get a handle on them if they are to see off Spurs on Wednesday, but whether they have the defensive capabilities without Van Dijk remains to be seen.

SALAH MAKING UP THE SLACK

It's fair to say Liverpool haven't quite met expectations this season, but let's not get carried away – after all, ahead of Wednesday's match they are only behind leaders Spurs on goal difference.

Additionally, they have clearly been impacted by a spate of injuries to key players, and regardless of Mourinho dismissing the importance of such a situation at a big club, one cannot expect a team not to be affected.

Nevertheless, the Reds are not quite as fluent in the final third as they were last term.

The focus of many Liverpool critics – and even fans – has been the form of Roberto Firmino, who, while still able to be influential, does appear to be struggling to reach the heights most expect of him.

The Brazilian has two goals in 12 league games at an average of 0.19 every 90 minutes, which is down from 0.27 last term. He is also producing fewer assists (down from 0.24 per 90 mins to 0.19) and seen a decrease in key passes (1.56 per 90 mins to 1.12).

Sadio Mane's productivity has also declined somewhat, his goals per 90 minutes down to 0.4 from 0.6, while last term he was creating just shy of two chances every game – that's now at 1.6.

But the same cannot be said of Mohamed Salah, whose 10 Premier League goals in 11 games has him netting at a frequency of 0.94 per 90 minutes (up from 0.59) and his chance creation has increased from 1.9 to 2.16.

Diogo Jota has proven a welcome addition as well, though long-term injury robs Liverpool of the Portugal international's flexibility.

Defensively, Liverpool aren't as impressive as they were either. While Van Dijk's loss is clearly a factor, he did also feature in the 7-2 drubbing by Aston Villa in October.

Only four times this season has Liverpool's expected goals against (xGA) figure not surpassed 1.0 in Premier League games, and that is surely a worrying omen with Kane and Son coming to town.

Liverpool missed the chance to go outright top of the Premier League as they had to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at Fulham.

The hosts had taken a deserved lead in a first half they dominated when Bobby Decordova-Reid struck home in emphatic fashion after finding space in the area.

Jurgen Klopp's visiting side continued to concede chances from there but, after getting in at half-time just one down, they found a way back into the game in the second period through Mohamed Salah's penalty.

There was no late siege on the hosts' goal, however, as Fulham held on for a point that continues their recent revival.

Having earned a reputation for slow starts so far this season, Fulham chose the visit of the champions to try out a new tactic of flying out of the traps.

And it certainly seemed to work, with Ivan Cavaleiro drawing two good saves in quick succession from Alisson after sneaking in behind during the early stages.

A challenge on the same Fulham attacker in the box was examined at length by VAR shortly after but, despite no spot-kick being awarded, the hosts' rhythm certainly did not suffer.

As such, it was no surprise to see them take the lead through Decordova-Reid, who latched onto a clever Ademola Lookman pass just inside the box before lashing the ball into the far corner.

After putting together one of their poorest halves of the season, the visitors could have done without suffering yet another injury blow at half-time as a sore back for Joel Matip forced him off.

Jordan Henderson's move into the backline did little for their organisation, either, with Andy Robertson almost diverting a clearance in off a Fulham player moments after the restart.

They did at least improve from there, with Henderson drawing a smart save from Alphonse Areola at close range soon after, but Liverpool struggled to consistently turn possession into chances of note.

Consequently, it was always going to take some good fortune to get Liverpool back into the game, and they got just that when Georginio Wijnaldum's seemingly harmless free-kick was handled by Aboubakar Kamara in the defensive wall.

Salah did the rest from 12 yards, though only just as a weak spot-kick narrowly evaded Areola, setting up a thrilling end to the game.

Scott Parker's men saw little of the ball from that point on, but they continued to look defensively resolute as they took a share of the spoils their performance doubtless merited.

What does it mean?

With Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham all dropping points over the weekend, this was Liverpool's chance to stamp their mark on the title race.

However, Klopp's men missed their chance, as Fulham showed that their poor early-season form is now a thing of the past.

What's next?

After missing the chance to leapfrog them in the table, Liverpool host title rivals Tottenham at Anfield on Wednesday. Fulham, meanwhile, have another home game against Brighton.

Jurgen Klopp hailed the "absolutely exceptional" Mohamed Salah after the forward became Liverpool's all-time leading goalscorer in the Champions League.

Salah opened the scoring as Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw with Midtjylland in Denmark on Wednesday.

It was the Egypt international's 22nd goal for the club in the Champions League (excluding qualifiers), moving him past Steven Gerrard (21) as their all-time top goalscorer in the competition.

Salah was lauded by Klopp following the achievement, with his opener coming after just 55 seconds – the quickest goal Liverpool have ever scored in the Champions League.

"[It's] one record after the other. I didn't know that he could break this record [on Wednesday] but I'm pretty sure he is proud of that. He should be," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"Exceptional player, absolutely exceptional player. Since we worked together obviously a lot of things clicked really for all of us. He helps the team massively and he knows and appreciates the help of the team as well.

"If we would have only Mo, even the incredible number of goals he got would not have been enough to be as successful as we were so thank God others scored a lot of goals as well.

"That made this team pretty successful but that Mo is a very exceptional player – I think nobody doubted it, but if you need numbers to prove it then he delivers that as well."

Of his 22 Champions League goals for Liverpool, 16 have come with his left foot and six with his right. That tally includes three penalties. Salah has also scored from outside the box three times.

Since Salah's arrival at Anfield in 2017, only Robert Lewandowski (31), Cristiano Ronaldo (29) and Lionel Messi (24) have scored more Champions League goals than his 22.

Liverpool had already secured top spot in Group D, and Klopp's men make the trip to Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah is aiming to "make the gap bigger" between himself and Steven Gerrard after the Egyptian overtook the Liverpool legend as the Reds' Champions League record goalscorer.

Salah netted his 22nd goal in the competition – excluding qualifiers – for Liverpool in the opening minute of Wednesday's clash with Midtjylland.

It saw him surpass Gerrard's record of 21, with the former Liverpool captain having won the Champions League in 2004-05.

Liverpool's opener was also the quickest strike in their Champions League history, with Salah having intercepted a loose back-pass to prod home after just 55 seconds.

Midtjylland fought back to draw 1-1 in contentious fashion, with the Danish side scoring from a penalty awarded after a long VAR check.

Alexander Scholz converted the spot-kick and thought he had scored a second when he finished from an acute angle, only for VAR to rule it out, with the technology then disallowing Takumi Minamino a winner at the other end.

Speaking to BT Sport at full-time, Salah was delighted to have cemented his name in Liverpool's record books, but is now looking to put distance between himself and the others on the list.

"It's a great feeling to be the top scorer for the club, it's something I'm proud of," said the 28-year-old.

"I need to keep going with that, score more goals, make the gap bigger between me and the others! I'm trying all the time to score goals to help the team to win games.

"One of the most important goals. They played good, almost man-marked us. We scored the goal early, but they strike back, they played a good game.

"The most important thing is to qualify, it's a game to learn [from]."

SALAH'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GOALS BY SEASON

2017-18 (10)

Salah's first goal for Liverpool in the Champions League proper came in a 2-2 draw with Sevilla on September 13, 2017. He followed that up with a further nine goals, taking his tally to 10 for the campaign from 13 appearances, while he provided four assists.

The former Roma star, who went off injured as Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the final, crafted 29 chances for team-mates, while converting 70 per cent of the big opportunities he was presented with, as per Opta data, averaging a goal every 92 minutes 54 seconds, and his maiden Champions League campaign with Liverpool remains his best on an individual level.

2018-19 (5)

Salah's output in Europe dropped off slightly in 2018-19, as Liverpool went on to win their sixth European Cup. He scored five goals and set up an additional two from 12 appearances.

All five of his strikes were from inside the area, with two of them from the penalty spot – including the opener in the final against Tottenham. 

2019-20 (4)

Liverpool's defence of their title was ended in March, when they slipped out at home to Atletico Madrid in the last 16, just before football across Europe was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Salah started in all eight of Liverpool's games and was subbed off only twice, clocking up a total of 731 minutes, while his four goals were shared equally between his left and right feet, with one coming from outside the box. His big chance conversion rate, so high in his first season, dropped to 30 per cent last term.

2020-21 (3)

Salah's conversion percentage when it comes to good chances has risen to 40 this term, having netted three goals from his six group-stage appearances.

He has created six chances, including one assist, with his strikes all coming from inside the 18-yard box – two with his imperious left foot, and the other with his right. Salah is yet to score for Liverpool with a header in the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp revealed his regret over supporting the implementation of VAR in football after the technology played a major role in Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Midtjylland on Wednesday.

Both teams saw a goal chalked off as a result of interventions from the video assistant referee, while a review also led to the Reds conceding a second-half penalty.

Although Klopp had no qualms with the actual decisions themselves, he was not happy with the amount of time taken by the team of officials, which prompted eight minutes of added time.

That gripe led the Liverpool manager to suggest that, on reflection, he does not believe VAR to represent the success he had hoped for.

He said: "It took just too long. I think now in the end - I didn't see it back obviously - all the decisions were right even though they were so difficult to make. 

"They all took like three, four minutes, [it was] cold for the boys in shorts. It's really hard - I can hear already people saying, 'Oh my God, why is he talking about that?' - but it took really long and it was really cold. So that doesn't help. 

"In the end, I used to be one of the people who said, 'Yes, VAR is a good idea' but I'm really not sure if I would say that again."

Despite making eight changes from Sunday's win over Wolves, Klopp still went surprisingly strong with his selection in starting the likes of Fabinho and Mohamed Salah.

Asked to explain if using the latter for 90 minutes represented "a risk", he replied: "If you want to play football, you saw in the second half you can make changes but you need a few key positions. 

"It could have been one of the other three playing in that position but you have kind of patterns; in the last line that was the reason Fabinho played 45 minutes. 

"In midfield, usually it would have been Naby [Keita] but he didn't play that often, he just needs to get minutes now again. 

"That was the decision for Mo and, how the game developed, how the game looked, Mo looked fine, that's why we didn't take him off. 

"The players who don't play that much, it's just really difficult to get through a full 90 minutes after a pretty long time without 90 minutes. 

"Mo, I was in contact with him, he had no issues, so that was the reason we left him on the pitch when he started."

Tottenham responded to Chelsea's victory on Saturday by claiming north London bragging rights with a 2-0 win over Arsenal.

Champions Liverpool soon joined Spurs on 24 points at the top as Mohamed Salah inspired an emphatic defeat of Wolves at Anfield.

Jamie Vardy gave Leicester City a late, late win at Sheffield United, while Roy Hodgson returned to West Brom to deliver a crushing defeat after Matheus Pereira was sent off.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from another enthralling Sunday in the Premier League.

West Brom 1-5 Crystal Palace: Hodgson haunts old club once again

Palace scored five goals in a top-flight away game for the first time in their history as they thrashed struggling West Brom.

It was the most goals the Eagles have scored away from home since they hit five at Watford in the Championship way back in January 2004, when Hodgson's time in charge of the United Arab Emirates was just coming to an end.

Hodgson has now won 11 Premier League matches against teams he used to manage, which puts him level with Harry Redknapp and Sam Allardyce at the top of that particular pile.

Of course, the match swung in Palace's favour when Pereira became the 12th player to be shown a straight red card in the Premier League this season. The Baggies will have feared the worst: they have lost 21 of the 31 Premier League games they have played in which they have had a player sent off, the highest percentage (68 per cent) among the 18 teams to have a player dismissed in at least 30 matches.

Sheffield United 1-2 Leicester City: Vardy's having a (Yorkshire) party

Sheffield United were moments from winning just a second point of the season until Vardy struck late at Bramall Lane.

The striker became just the third player to score in five consecutive Premier League games in Yorkshire, following in the footsteps of Wayne Rooney (2002-2013) and Harry Kane (2014-2020). He even shattered a corner flag in his celebration, just to rub salt into the wound.

James Maddison set up Vardy's winner to end a wait of 363 days for a Premier League assist, although that barren run was not for the want of trying: he has created 56 goalscoring chances in that time, including three against the Blades.

As for Chris Wilder's men, they are only the ninth different team in English league history to lose 10 or more of their first 11 games in a season, and the first in the top flight since Newcastle United in 1977-78. Leicester also condemned them to their 10th defeat last term - although that was on matchday 36.

Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal: Mourinho leaves Gunners at Premier League low point

Jose Mourinho loves playing Arsenal - he has gone 11 home games in all competitions without losing to the Gunners. Mikel Arteta does not seem to enjoy this fixture, though: he is just the second Arsenal boss to lose his first two north London derbies, after Bertie Mee in 1966-67.

This encounter was vintage Mourinho. For the 11th time in a Premier League match, his team had 35 per cent or less of the possession, but this was the ninth of those games he has won. That is in part down to the brilliance of Harry Kane - who now has 250 career goals and a record 11 in this fixture - and Son Heung-min.

Spurs ended the weekend top of the table, but Arsenal are 15th, with just 13 points from their opening 11 games. That is their lowest return at this stage of a top-flight season since they mustered 12 by this point in 1981-82.

Liverpool 4-0 Wolves: Salah in truly esteemed company

Liverpool's resounding defeat of Wolves took them to 31 wins from 32 home league games, in which time they have scored 93 goals and conceded only 25.

Impressively, the champions have now kept six clean sheets in the 11 games Virgil van Dijk has missed through injury this season, as 22-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher became the youngest Reds goalkeeper to record a shutout when making a first Premier League start.

Salah broke the deadlock to move onto 52 league goals at Anfield since he arrived from Roma in 2017. The only players in Europe's top-five leagues with better single-venue numbers in that time are Barcelona's Lionel Messi (63 at Camp Nou) and Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (59 at the Allianz Arena).

Salah's goal was gifted to him by a poor chest touch from Conor Coady. The Wolves captain has only made three errors leading to goals in 87 Premier League appearances, and two of those have come on Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp hailed a "perfect" night as Liverpool welcomed supporters back to Anfield with a 4-0 thrashing of Wolves.

With the city of Liverpool having recently been placed in Tier 2 of the UK government's tiered restriction system, 2,000 fans were allowed to attend Sunday's game.

It was the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that fans were allowed to attend matches.

Liverpool were crowned league champions for the first time in 30 years in June, but lifted the trophy at Anfield in July behind closed doors.

And Klopp had nothing but positive things to say after the match having seen his players treat those in attendance to a fine performance.

"It was a really perfect night, to be honest," the Liverpool manager told Amazon Prime Sport.

"If 10 months ago somebody would have told us we had a home game and only 2,000 people will show up we would have thought, 'Okay, proper crisis, the football must be really bad'. 

"And now tonight it was so enjoyable, it was so nice. We came out for warming up and we all had goosebumps, it was like 'Oh my God!' 

"I said to the boys in the meeting before that we will have no idea how it will be, so if it's good we have to use it, and if it's bad we have to ignore it. So that's how it is. 

"It was much better [than I hoped], it was perfect, the noise what people did. They were on their toes, you could see and feel and pretty much smell that they waited so long for it. 

"All of them here, the Kop and the Main Stand, were here to support a football team."

Liverpool claimed an emphatic victory thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joel Matip'and an own goal from Wolves' Nelson Semedo.

Klopp went on to agree that the return of fans had helped inspire his players on to greater heights in the second half of what had - in its earlier stages at least - been a cagey encounter.

He continued: "We are so used to playing without a crowd. Each little positive that you can get in this moment in life in general is nice. 

"When you read in the newspaper that the vaccine would come it was like, whatever weather was outside, the sun was shining for all of us. 

"And so it was tonight in the second half, it's so much more enjoyable when the people are involved.

"This game would not be the game we all love if we played it always without supporters, but we have to do it in the moment. 

"If there's any sense in it, then it's only that we appreciate these things: 2,000 or 3,000 and hopefully 4,000, 5m000 and 6,000 in the next few weeks and months. 

"Normality is coming back and you appreciate that even more."

Robert Lewandowski does not believe he can be compared to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or any of the other nominees for FIFA's The Best award following his success with Bayern Munich.

While France Football made the decision not to name a Ballon d'Or winner for 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, world football's governing body will crown The Best FIFA Men's Player on December 17.

The award takes into account accomplishments between July 20, 2019 and October 7 of this year. During that time, Lewandowski scored 55 goals in an incredible 2019-20 season that saw Bayern complete a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, before adding the UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup this term.

Ronaldo scored 31 goals as Juventus won the Scudetto and he became the first player to strike 50 times in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A in the process.

Messi, who took home the accolade in 2019, led LaLiga in goals (25) and assists (21), but his tally of 56 goal involvements in all competitions (31 scored, 25 assisted) represented his worst season since 2013-14.

Kylian Mbappe, Sadio Mane, Neymar and Mohamed Salah are the other forwards on the 11-man shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player, but Lewandowski does not think any comparison can be made to him.

"I don't think about that, because I think the most important thing is to analyse what your team achieved in the season," Lewandowski told Ole when asked who his biggest competition for the award is.

"If you scored a lot of goals and won everything and were at the top, I don't think there's anyone I can compare myself to.

"I just focus and think about the next challenge, and so on. If I win the award, of course I will be happy because I know everything I did, that it was for the team, and I know that it will be a decision of the fans and the journalists who vote."

Asked if he feels he deserves to win, Lewandowski added: "Hopefully. It would be a unique feeling. If I won The Best it would be something spectacular for me and an award for the whole team, because I know how well we played.

"What we did last season, for me, was incredible and I think we were the best. We are the best, there is no doubt. And we want to stay in that place

"It's always special to win a FIFA award, a dream. Personally, I know how hard I worked and pushed myself to have the year I had. If you love what you do, it is possible to get the prize.

"But I insist, winning it would be a prize for the whole team. Bayern had an unbeatable year."

Robert Lewandowski is "the most complete" player in world football and should be named The Best FIFA Men's Player 2020, according to Lothar Matthaus.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski scored 55 goals in all competitions last season as Hansi Flick's side won the Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.

Voting for the award considers achievements from July 20, 2019 to October 7, 2020, during which the Poland international also won the UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup with Bayern.

Lewandowski scored 15 goals and assisted five more as Bayern won all of their 2019-20 Champions League games and lifted the trophy, an achievement that will be central to his claim for the honour.

The 32-year-old's output far outstripped perennial contenders Cristiano Ronaldo (four goals, no assists) and Lionel Messi (three goals, three assists).

Bayern overcame Paris Saint-Germain in the final and their star duo of Neymar (three goals, four assists) and Kylian Mbappe (five goals, five assists) could not get anywhere near Lewandowski in the Champions League.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah – the only other attacker on the 11-man shortlist for the FIFA accolade – had four goals and two assists in last season's Champions League.

Lewandowski also had a better shot conversion rate (34.9 per cent) than any of those candidates and averaged 3.4 shots on target per 90 minutes – the most of any player to have featured more than four times.

"As the name suggests, there can only be one who is the best. That is Robert Lewandowski," Matthaus wrote in his Sky Sports column.

"He's no longer just the best number nine in the world. Robert is the most complete and best player there is in world football.

"With FC Bayern he has won the five big titles that can be won. Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, DFL-Supercup and UEFA Super Cup. In addition, he was also the top scorer in the first three competitions mentioned.

"His rivals Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Mbappe are all fantastic players – just like Lewy. The difference is he has won every title there was to be won.

"Messi had a season without a trophy, Ronaldo became Italian champion, is still great, but not as strong as a few years ago."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp called his side's fixture schedule "a crime" as he prepared to face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League less than three days after suffering a 2-0 Champions League loss to Atalanta.

Second-half goals from Josip Illicic and Robin Gosens helped secure an unexpected win for Serie A visitors Atalanta, who Liverpool thrashed 5-0 just three weeks earlier, as the Reds missed the chance to qualify for the Champions League knockout stage.

Wednesday's result left Premier League champions Liverpool with one win from their last three games as they approach a run of four matches in 12 days.

Klopp predicted his players would not be alone in suffering dips in form as a result of the congestion, telling BT Sport: "I'm afraid to say I think it could happen not only to us but to other teams as well.

"You ask us to go on Saturday at 12:30, which is nearly a crime to be honest. That's nothing to do with our game tonight.

"Now my only interest is I got thumbs up, nobody is injured. Now let's recover immediately. The boys are disappointed and frustrated but we don't have time for it, to be honest.

"It's just get fresh legs as quick as possible and go again."

Klopp selected a number of fringe players in his side to face Atalanta and saw them struggle to find any rhythm, with Mohamed Salah's shot in the 44th minute Liverpool's first of the game.

For the first time since Opta had shot data available in the Champions League since 2003-04, Liverpool failed to record a single shot on target in a home game in the competition.

Up against 19-year-old full-back Nico Williams, Atalanta's Papu Gomez enjoyed a successful night on the wing, providing the cross for Ilicic to score the opener and then making a second assist in the build-up to Gosens' goal.

Klopp – whose side lost a competitive home fixture by a margin of more than one goal for the first time in 137 matches at Anfield – admitted his players struggled with the intensity of the game, saying: "Both teams didn't create a lot until they scored the goals. We saw it coming a little in the first half but couldn't avoid it or defend it anyway.

"The ref brought a lot of tempo in the game, he didn't whistle a lot. That makes it even more difficult on both sides. It was unbelievably intense for the boys; you need one or two breaks.

"We changed five times, that always costs rhythm, that's normal. Usually when the first half is gone it settles a bit but you could see for some players who hadn't played for a while it was very intense for them.

"So we didn't really find a way in the game. We didn't find ways to create."

Robert Lewandowski is among the leading contenders for The Best FIFA Men's Player in 2020 after he was named among 11 nominees on Wednesday.

The Bayern Munich superstar fired his side to the treble in 2019-20 and has continued his outstanding form at the start of the new season.

With no Ballon d'Or this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA's award represents Lewandowski's best chance of recognition for a standout year.

He has tough competition in the form of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and four Liverpool players, but the 32-year-old must surely be considered the frontrunner.

Lewandowski's potential success in this category would be built on Bayern's Champions League triumph and Opta data in that competition since the start of last season helps make his case.

LEADING THE WAY

Virgil van Dijk ran Messi close in 2019, but this year's top honour surely belongs to an attacker - particularly with the Liverpool centre-back and Sergio Ramos playing just eight and seven games respectively over this span due to injury and suspension.

Lewandowski is therefore the obvious choice. He has scored 17 goals in 13 games; for contrast, Messi has six goals and Ronaldo five.

The Poland international has benefited from playing at the forefront of a brilliant team, however, and has had by far the most shots of any player in this time.

His 63 attempts outperform Messi's second-placed 48 by 15. Ronaldo is third with 47, with the leading five shot-takers all nominated as Mohamed Salah (42) and Kylian Mbappe (41) are next on that list.

But Lewandowski has made the most of these opportunities, hitting the target 36 times - another high.

The striker's shot conversion rate of 27.0 per cent far outstrips Salah (14.3 per cent), Neymar (13.3 per cent), Sadio Mane (12.5 per cent), Messi (also 12.5 per cent), Mbappe (12.2 per cent) and Ronaldo (10.6 per cent).

For balance, Ramos is the leading scorer among defenders in this period, netting three goals.

MISSED THE CUT

Although Thiago Alcantara, who has since departed for Liverpool, was included, it was perhaps slightly surprising to see only two members of Bayern's treble-winning team make the list.

The players who created Lewandowski's opportunities went unrewarded.

Joshua Kimmich has a joint-high seven assists and has created the most chances of any player with 38. Thomas Muller played 31 key passes.

Similarly, at Paris Saint-Germain, where Neymar and Mbappe are considered, Angel Di Maria supplied six assists, 24 chances and 12 big chances.

One admission who will surely make the cut in the years to come is Erling Haaland, widely considered the heir to Lewandowski's crown as the Bundesliga's leading marksman.

The 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund man, who was named the 2020 Golden Boy, is the only player to come close to Lewandowski's level of productivity in the Champions League.

Despite playing the first half of last season at Salzburg, who did not qualify from their group, Haaland has 16 goals in just 12 games.

Serge Gnabry, another team-mate of Lewandowski's, is third for goals behind the pair but has a relatively modest nine.

Of Haaland's 40 shots, 24 have hit the target - a tally beaten only by Lewandowski and matched by Messi (from eight more attempts). A shot conversion rate of 40 per cent is the best mark of any player with 40 or more shots.

This might well be Lewandowski's year, but the future is not far away.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah will return to training on Monday after testing negative for coronavirus, manager Jurgen Klopp said.

Salah missed Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19 while on international duty with Egypt.

But in a boost for Klopp's injury-hit side, Salah is set to return to training in the lead up to Wednesday's Champions League clash at home to Atalanta.

"That's what I've heard, yes, it [was] negative today. I think he is from now on pretty normal in testing," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"Tomorrow we have the UEFA testing for the Champions League and I am pretty sure he will be in that.

"He can now train with us tomorrow, that's it. He will have two tests in the next two days, so, yes, he will be tested like all of us."

Since arriving at Liverpool in 2017, Salah has missed just seven Premier League games – and Klopp's men are unbeaten, although their win percentage drops to 57.1, compared to 73.3 when the star forward plays. They also average more goals for (2.3 to 1.9) and points per game (2.4 to 2.1) with Salah.

Against Leicester, Liverpool extended their unbeaten home run in the league to a club record 64 games after Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino scored following Jonny Evans' first-half own goal.

But they suffered yet another injury concern, with midfielder Naby Keita hurting his hamstring in the win.

Klopp also confirmed Xherdan Shaqiri was sidelined with a muscle injury.

"Shaq, how I know it, he had a muscle injury with the national team which he didn't really realise," he said.

"Now he trained with us, we gave him a day off and then he came back and was involved in the session, but was not fully involved and all these kind of things. He just did a little bit, after that he felt a little bit. Then we did a scan and they found he has an injury from five or six days ago.

"Nobody knew about that, not even Shaq knew about it, but that's how things sometimes are and so he was not able to be involved."

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