Egypt manager Javier Aguirre fancies Mohamed Salah for the Ballon d’Or

Egypt head coach Javier Aguirre believes Mohamed Salah could get into contention for the Ballon d’Or, should he guide the national team to African Cup of Nation success. The 27-year-old experienced another top season at the club level with Liverpool and he ended the campaign by lifting the Champions League title.

Despite this, Salah remains an outsider for the title with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of him but Aguirre believes the Egyptian could make a strong push for the prestigious trophy by winning the AFCON title, he told The National: "He's helped me with the group since the beginning; he's a kind of leader. I'm really happy with him because he had an extraordinary season with his club. So I say, 'OK Mohamed, if you're able to help us win the African Cup, for sure you're going to be in the last three or four for the Ballon d'Or'. He's a very nice guy, a humble guy. He's sincere, he jokes with everybody. We have a real normal relationship."

Egypt have generally been a force to reckon with when it comes to the AFCON but they have not won any of the previous editions. Out of those, the 2017 final can be regarded as the most disappointing one, considering they were beaten by Cameroon, who were weakened with a number of key players refusing to leave their respective clubs at the midway stage of the tournament.

Egypt previously hosted the continental showpiece 13 years ago and back then, they were crowned as the champions and went on to secure a hat-trick of titles. With the current squad, they are more than capable of ending a nine-year trophy wait, but much of the emphasis could lie on the performance of Salah in the frontline.