Gianluigi Buffon was linked with a sensational move to Liverpool last summer after ending his near 20-year association with Juventus.
The Italy icon ended up joining Paris Saint-Germain instead as Jurgen Klopp eventually acquired Brazil No1 Alisson from Roma but that didn’t cut any affection Buffon has for the Reds.
Indeed, when asked about his favourite stadium to have played in, the 40-year-old ranked Anfield as one of the best he’s graced.
“There are a lot of them,” he said. “Definitely Anfield, in Liverpool, that was one of the few stadiums – along with Rangers in Glasgow and Fenerbahce in Istanbul – where there was such commotion for the first 15-20 minutes that I had trouble concentrating.”
The goalkeeping great was also asked about the most memorable game of his career and it was to no surprise he went for Italy’s World Cup victory in 2006.
“The best game? Every final is pure emotion, but if I have to say one I’d say the World Cup final, even if that’s slightly predictable.”
After notching 44 goals for the English Premier League club in all competitions last season, the 26-year-old has managed only three this season, and just one in eight games since August.
When Salah last played for his country, he scored twice and missed two penalties as the record seven-time African champions romped to a 6-0 win over Niger during September.
Niger are ranked 105 in the world – 31 places above eSwatini – so Egypt can realistically hope to score goals this Friday at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.
Salah is the pride of Egypt having won the best goal and finished third in the best player category behind Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo at the recent FIFA awards.
He is also among 30 contenders for the Ballon d’Or prize bestowed annually by France Football magazine.
His recent scarcity of goals for Liverpool, and being substituted in a match at Chelsea, has drawn sympathy from Egyptian pundits.
“Salah must not look back at last season, whether it was his goal scoring or his exceptional form,” said Islam el-Shater in Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“He must do what his manager (Jurgen Klopp) asks of him so that he does not lose his starting place.”
Another columnist in that newspaper, Mohammed el-Bourmy, wrote: “Salah is being compared to Ronaldo and Messi and some possibly believed he could score 40 to 50 goals every season.
“He is not required to do that, but rather to have a good season with 20 goals to his name and enjoy himself.”
Leading football commentator Hassan el-Mistekawi noted that “the Salah smile is missing since the start of the season because of the pressure he is under to score”.
Honours are even between the duo so far following Sunday’s goalless draw at Anfield, with both sides level on 20 points at the top of the Premier League.
Alisson, who arrived at Liverpool in the summer for a record £65million, was Brazil’s first-choice goalkeeper at the World Cup.
But Ederson, a Premier League title winner last season, is set to get the chance to stake his claim in their forthcoming friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Argentina.
“I expect to represent the Brazil national team against these two teams and I am looking forward to the two matches,” said Ederson.
“I think there is a lot of similarity between the two of us. Alisson is having a very positive season start at Liverpool.
“Here he is one step ahead of me, he played in a World Cup. That’s not why I’m going to work any less.
EDERSON:— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) October 9, 2018
"Alisson is a step ahead of me at the Seleção. The goalkeeper position is cruel because only one of us can play, but we are both living a good phase in England." pic.twitter.com/uGmVhndXl0
“Brazil is well served with goalkeepers. Those who come in will do a good job. Representing Brazil comes with great expectation, being able to play is even greater.
“I had the pleasure to meet Alisson when he arrived in England, we had lunch and he is a friend of mine.
“He has started this season really well, he is having opportunities with Liverpool so I expect him to have a great season – and I expect a great battle for the Premier League title.”
Brazil face Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Friday but have been enjoying a stopover at Tottenham’s training ground in Enfield, north London.
Also in the squad are Premier League stars Fabinho, Fred, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Tottenham’s own Lucas Moura.
In Brazil’s two friendlies since losing to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the World Cup they have beaten the USA 2-0 and El Salvador 5-0.