Mohamed Salah can silence the critics who question his loyalty to Liverpool by avenging the most painful moment of his career when the Egypt star faces Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Salah sparked howls of indignation among Liverpool fans recently when he refused to rule out the possibility of playing for a Spanish club in the future.
The fact that Salah was speaking to Madrid-based newspaper Marca at the time only increased speculation that he was laying the groundwork for a move to Real Madrid.
“I hope to be able to play for many more years. Why not? No one knows what’s going to happen in the future, so maybe one day, yes. It’s not up to me,” Salah said when asked if he was keen to try Spanish football.
Salah’s flirtatious response was similar to the one he gave to another Spanish outlet in December when questioned about a potential La Liga move.
“I think Madrid and Barcelona are two top clubs,” he told AS.
Whether either Real or Barcelona could afford to buy Salah amid the current financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen.
But for a club whose supporters pride themselves on their passionate and unflinching loyalty to the Liverpool cause, Salah’s refusal to rule out a switch to Spain was a careless own goal.
It tapped into the long-standing suspicion among a section of Liverpool’s fanbase that Salah, whose contract runs until 2023, is motivated by personal glory rather than team success.
The cynics support their claims by highlighting Salah’s occasional spats with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane when he shoots rather than passing to a better placed team-mate.
They also point to Salah’s sulky response to being substituted during the defeat against Chelsea in March, and his reported frustration at being ignored for the Liverpool captaincy in the absence of the injured Jordan Henderson.
– Real revenge
Of course, Salah could rightly mention that Liverpool might well have failed to win either the Champions League in 2019 or the Premier League last season without his goals and sublime skills.
Even this season, with Liverpool in the midst of a failed title defence marred by seemingly endless injuries, Salah’s haul of 26 goals — including one in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Arsenal — shows what a threat he carries.
With 120 goals in 193 appearances in all competitions since joining from Roma in 2017, Salah is rightly ranked among Liverpool’s all-time greats.
But the 28-year-old’s place in the hearts of Kopites might not be so secure.
Michael Owen and Steve McManaman — both local heroes at Liverpool at the time — were never so fondly regarded after swapping Anfield for Real’s Bernabeu.
Inspiring Liverpool to a revenge victory against Real in a rematch of the 2018 Champions League final won by the Spanish club would go some way to appeasing the doubters.
That bitter 3-1 loss in Kiev remains a personal nadir for Salah, who was in tears on the pitch after being forced to come off with a first half injury following a clash with Sergio Ramos.
Salah had suffered a dislocated shoulder that would hamper him at the World Cup later that year, with some claiming Ramos had deliberately exacerbated the injury with the way he dragged the Egyptian to the turf.
“Let’s just say that I have special motivation to win the tie and go through to the semi-finals,” Salah told Marca about the Real reunion.
Ironically, Real captain Ramos is expected to miss both legs of the quarter-final with a calf injury.
Ramos’s absence is a major boost for Liverpool as they seek to salvage a miserable season by winning a seventh European Cup.
If Salah can play a leading role in making that dream come true, his commitment might not be questioned quite so often.
Buhari celebrates national flag designer, Akinkunmi @85
The President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday congratulated the designer of the national flag, Michael Akinkunmi, on his 85th birthday.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘President Buhari congratulates designer of national flag, Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, on 85th Birthday.’
Adesina quoted the President as saying that Akinkunmi upholds the values that every Nigerian emulate for nation building.
The statement read, “On behalf of all Nigerians and the government, President Muhammadu Buhari sends warm felicitations to Michael Akinkunmi, OFR, on his 85th birthday, joining family members and friends to celebrate with the designer of the National Flag, whose creativity and patriotism remain remarkable.
“Akinkunmi, who is an honourary Life Presidential Adviser, upholds the values that every citizen should emulate for nation-building, which include humility, selflessness, integrity and a keen interest in seeking greater good for country and humanity.”
Buhari further prayed that God grants the octogenarian and retired civil servant longer life, good health and strength to keep serving the nation he loves so much.
Recall that Akinkunmi designed the Nigerian flag in 1959.
Then a 23-year-old engineering student at Norwood Technical College in London, Akinkunmi sent his entry for a competition to design the Nigerian flag.
His entry was selected; sealing his place in Nigeria’s history books.
Chidinma speaks on becoming gospel singer, says ‘I’ve had enough fame’
Popular Nigerian singer, Chidinma Ekile, has announced her switch to full-time gospel ministration, saying she regrets `wasting’ so much time doing secular music.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the singer turned actress stated that “the devil has been winning too long.”
She said, “Our God is faithful; He never lies and He does whatever He says. So, I’m here today. It’s been a long journey. I had an opportunity to spend time with Him; it’s a rare privilege to spend time with Him and He told me a lot of things and He said He has been waiting for me.”
The songstress made it known that she is not going into gospel music for the fame as she has had “enough of all of that”.
“God has been very intentional about me. He is very mindful of me. I’m not here because I want fame. I’ve had all of that and I think I’ve had enough of all of that. So, right now is the time to work for my Father. He is the one who has called me I did not bring myself here. As a matter of fact, I did not want to be here, but I’m going into ministry in full force,” Chidinma stated.
She added, “So, most of you might not understand my ways because you don’t know where I’m coming from, and that is because a lot of time has been wasted. So, I need to catch up with time. I’m moving with time, there is no time. The enemy has been winning for too long. I’ve had my share of influence and all of that, but now I’m using all of that.
“Everything the enemy thought he had given to me though was given to me by God, while he was lying that he gave them to me. Now I’m using all of that to work for my father. So, when you see me doing some very extreme things, just understand where I’m coming from, there is no time.
“There are too many people out there we have to bring back into the house. Jesus is coming soon; sooner than you expect. So, we cannot allow them to miss out on that. Now is the time to do the work.”
Chidinma is currently signed on with the Eezee concept and has released her first gospel song titled: “Jehovah overdo.”
Messi’s record-breaking boots auctioned for £125,000
Lionel Messi’s boots which scored him his one-club record-breaking goal have been bought for £125,000 at an auction.
The Barcelona captain scored his 644th goal for the club in last year’s December 3-0 win over Real Valladolid. The goal broke past record by Pele, who had netted 643 times for Santos, and set Messi as the player to have scored the most goals for a single club.
According to reports by ESPN, the pair of boots were donated to a charity for children’s health by the player, and sportswear company Adidas. They were thereafter exhibited in Cataluña’s Museum of Art (MNAC) in Barcelona for the auction which began on April 19 with a starting price of £40,000.
While the auction house, Christies, estimated the boots to sell for a maximum of £70,000, bids swamped in for the online auction at the last hour and bumped up the price till it was finally sold for a whopping £125,000 on Friday.
According to Christies.com all the proceeds from the sale are going to Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebrón Hospital where it will be used to “help children with cancer or other serious illnesses, as well as their families.”
Before the auction, Messi in a press statement released by Christie’s said, “Reaching the historic milestone of 644 goals with the same club gives me a lot of joy, but what’s really more important is being able to give something back to the kids struggling with their health, we hope this will raise a lot of awareness for this great cause.”
Applauding the generosity of the star player, Dr Albert Salazar, Managing Director of the beneficiary hospital said, “For the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, the funds raised through this auction will help us to continue to improve the health of many children and their families through the arts. I am sure that the generosity of Lionel Messi and Adidas will allow us to initiate further projects related to Arts and Health which are proven to have such a meaningful impact”
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