Liverpool star Mohamed Salah has a message for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – the Champions League is football’s “biggest competition.”
It’s often argued that Guardiola’s stewardship of City will be measured by the club winning its first Champions League title, though the Catalan recently said he’d choose winning the English Premier League over European success.
Speaking to reporters earlier this month, Guardiola likened Liverpool’s Champions League triumph with a visit to the casino, comparing it with the spin of roulette wheel.
While the Premier League involves playing 38 games against domestic rivals, Liverpool played 13 games to win the Champions League, emerging from a group containing Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade, before beating Bayern Munich, Porto, Barcelona and Tottenham.
Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice as coach of Barcelona, insisted the Premier League was “the most important thing, the stand-out competition, because it is every weekend.” As a coach Guardiola last won the Champions League in 2011.
But Salah, who scored Liverpool’s opening goal in the 2-0 win over Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid, disagrees with the Spaniard, claiming the prestige of winning the competition trumps England’s domestic crown.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that he (Guardiola) said that, but I think if you give him a choice to choose which one, he would choose the Champions League,” Salah told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an exclusive interview at the club’s Melwood training ground.
“That’s my opinion. I’m not talking about him, but my opinion. It’s the biggest competition in football, so everyone wants to win it.
“Every coach, every player wants to win it, dreams of winning it. So of course the Premier League also is something big, but still the Champions League is the biggest competition.”
And while City celebrated a second consecutive Premier League title, Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham in June’s Champions League final took center stage.
“Honestly, it was great, ” Salah said of his team’s Champions League success. “It’s a dream for everyone, the city, the players, to win a Champions League is something so great and something very big.
“So everyone was having that special moment. I was feeling like a kid whose dream comes true.”
Premier League rivalry
City and Liverpool looks set to resume hostilities in this year’s Premier League title race with Guardiola’s men aiming for a third successive domestic crown.
Not since 1990, two years before the advent of the Premier League, has Liverpool been crowned as champion of England’s top division.
And its task does not look like becoming easier any time soon.
Separated by just a single point last term, City has spent big in the transfer market with the £62.8 million ($76 million) signing of midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid, as well as splashing out £60 million ($72.4 million) on Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo.
Both teams won their opening games of the new season convincingly with Liverpool thrashing Norwich 4-1 and City crushing West Ham 5-0 in east London.
But while City sits at home on Wednesday night preparing for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham, Liverpool is in Istanbul for the European Super Cup final.
The game, which is held annually between the winners of the Champions League and Europa League, pits Liverpool against English rival Chelsea.
“I love these games,” Salah said ahead of the tie in Turkey.
“Big games and a final game … they want to win with a new coach and we also want to win it,” added Salah, referring to Chelsea’s new manager Frank Lampard.