Gini Wijnaldum says that his Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah is more than equipped to handle the pressure after a slow start.
Salah has scored three goals in nine games so far in 2018-19 – a respectable return but well off the pace of his remarkable 44-goal haul last season.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Salah is not happy with his early-season performances, but Wijnaldum has insisted that the Egyptian is still vital for the team.
“It’s easy to say [he’s not in form],” Wijnaldum said. “Now we are used to Mo scoring goals. Maybe last season he didn’t have some good games but he always scored goals.
“People see that and say: ‘Ah. He played good.’ But now he is not scoring and people are saying he is in a difficult situation.
“I don’t see it that way. He still works hard, he still creates chances.”
Ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Napoli on Wednesday, Wijnaldum has backed Salah to deal with the early-season pressure he’s facing.
“If anyone can deal with pressure, it is Mo,” the Dutch international said. “Last season he had pressure when people were saying he had to be the top scorer of the league.
“Mo is not someone that is scared of pressure. He embraces the pressure. He knows that he can do it.”
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In fact, Wijnaldum is so confident that Salah can handle the scrutiny, he’s even insisted that the Egyptian needs to bag more hat-tricks for the Reds, having secured one last season.
“I told him I expect more hat-tricks this season, last year there was only one, and he said I was right,” Wijnaldum said.
“I told him: ‘Mo, you are a top player. If you look at Messi and Ronaldo they score a lot of hat-tricks – you have to do the same if you want to compete with them.’”