LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - When AS Roma agreed to sell Mohamed Salah to Liverpool last June they could well have anticipated that the Egyptian would go on to be a big success with the Premier League club.
What they surely didn’t expect would be that Salah and Liverpool would stand between them and a place in the Champions League final.
But on Tuesday at Anfield Roma’s primary task will be to stop the prolific Salah from adding to his impressive 41 goals in all competitions.
The Italian side are a surprise arrival in the last four of Europe’s premier club competition after a stunning comeback against Spanish giants Barcelona in the last round.
Liverpool pulled off their own surprise as Salah, voted Player of the Year by England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) on Sunday, scored in both legs of his team’s 5-1 aggregate quarter-final win over Premier League champions Manchester City.
Juergen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, expects Roma’s defenders to give Salah an early reminder, if any were needed, that friendships end once the players are on the field.
“I am pretty sure the Italian defenders are famous for not having friendly games, so I think Mo will feel early in the game that they are not his team mates any more and then he can strike back in a football way,” the German said.
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson said that Salah fully deserved the PFA Award and hopes that his wonderful form can continue until the end of the season.
“He has been fantastic. His record and stats speak for themselves, and his performances also,” Henderson said. “He has been a massive player and can hopefully continue that form for the next few weeks.”
Salah was less prolific in Italy’s Serie A during his two seasons with Roma, but his 34 goals in 83 appearances in all competitions for the club impressed Klopp and earned the Egyptian a 42 million euro ($51.3 million) move to Anfield.
Salah has struck eight times in the Champions League this season - second only to Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, who has 15 goals.
But with strike partner Robero Firmino also scoring eight and Sadio Mane seven, Liverpool have the most potent attack in the competition with 33 goals.
“The front three have been outstanding, creating chances, scoring goals. It has worked well,” said Henderson.
“We have to continue playing as we always have this season, no matter who we have played. It is a big test against a really good side in Roma, but one I feel we are ready for.”
($1 = 0.8185 euros)
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by David Goodman