Salah went off injured in the Champions League final, which Ronaldo and Real Madrid went on to win 3-1 in a clash that was billed as a showdown between him and Liverpool’s Salah for football’s biggest individual award.
Ronaldo, now tasked with leading Euro 2016 winners Portugal at the World Cup, says he hopes the injury doesn’t ruin Salah’s chances of winning the award.
“Salah has been one of the revelations of the year,” Ronaldo told reporters in Russia.
“I hope his injury in the final in Kiev doesn’t keep him out.
“Many people talk about the battle for the Ballon d’Or between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but there are other players who have a chance to enter the race. Salah is certainly one of them.”
The two may end up facing each other in Russia if Salah, who is Egypt’s talisman much as Ronaldo is for Portugal, makes an adequate recovery from his injury. Portugal first have a group that includes Spain to navigate, along with Morocco and Iran, with the two European powerhouses set to clash on Friday.
“A defeat on the first day puts you in a bad way for the rest of the tournament so it’s important to start well,” Ronaldo said of the Group B opener on June 15.
“But I believe both Spain and Portugal will reach the next round.
“To win the World Cup would be a dream for Portugal but to do it we have to play the same way we did in Euro 2016, as a team and all together.”
In an interview with Marca, the Croatian talked about Ronaldo’s strengths and how he is someone who is always a threat to Barcelona’s chances of winning trophies.
“I find it difficult to imagine that he will leave,” Rakitic said.
“However, football moves quickly and many things happen. He’s the player that makes the difference at Real Madrid.
“And, if he goes, I would be glad, I’m not going to lie. As a colleague, though, I hope he makes the best decision. As with Zinedine Zidane, I wish him the best. And if he goes, well, better [for Barcelona].”
Rakitic though was all praise for team-mate Lionel Messi, whose Argentina side he will face in the group stage of the World Cup.
“There’s no one in football that has found the formula to stop him. Not [Croatia coach] Dalic, not me… no one. What you have to do is enjoy him.”
“We admit that it’s really special to compete with Leo, but he also knows that we’re all excited to play against him. It’s not that it’s something nice, but this is the top-level, it’s a World Cup, the best teams are here and you compete against them. It’s a special motivation to be enjoyed.
“All eyes are on Messi, they’re the favourite [in the group]. Leo deserved [to win a World Cup] but football is not tennis. You can’t put pressure on him. He deserves it, but there are 32 national teams with the same dream.”
Ronaldo suggested he could call time on his Madrid career just moments after they clinched their third consecutive Champions League against Liverpool, saying “it was very nice to be at Real Madrid”.
However, Fernandes insists Ronaldo is unfazed by the speculation as Portugal’s most capped player looks to help his side win back to back major tournaments following their triumph at Euro 2016.
“I have nothing negative to say about Cristiano, he looks focused and doesn’t look at all worried about his future,” said Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Fernandes, speaking at Portugal’s World Cup team base camp on the outskirts of the Russian capital.
Portugal share Group B with Morocco and Iran, but face their toughest test in their opening game against Spain on Friday in the evening kick-off.
Ronaldo is Portugal’s all-time leading scorer with 81 goals in 150 senior caps but, at 33, this could be his final major international tournament.