Former Liverpool defender Glen Johnson believes Mohamed Salah has every chance of emulating Cristiano Ronaldo and maintaining his best form into his mid-30s.
The Egypt international turns 30 next June, by which time he will have just 12 months remaining on his current contract.
There has been plenty of debate about Salah’s contractual situation as his club are not in the habit of handing long-term, lucrative – the forward reportedly wants £400,000-a-week – deals to players over 30.
However, Salah, who has scored in all-but-one of his 11 appearances this season, would appear to be making a case to be the exception to that rule.
“It’s a hard one. Any contract is about timing. Of course he is within his rights to be paid on a par with anyone (in the Premier League),” Johnson, speaking in association with William Hill, told the PA news agency.
“But Liverpool have done their business right and he’s got 20 months left on his contract and at the end of that he will be 31 and do they want a 31-year-old player, whether he is that good or not, on x-amount hundred grand a week? I don’t know.
“But on form the way he is still playing they definitely need to try to keep him.
“You see the way he plays, you can see he looks after himself and trains right, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes on to have a long career like Ronaldo.
“But maintaining this level of performance which justifies the pay rise – can he do it for the next five years? We don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me if he kept the form up.
“I can’t think of anyone at the moment I’d prefer to play ahead of him. I can’t think of anyone who is scoring the goals in the way that he is scoring at the moment.
“He set the bar so high (in his first season when he scored 44 goals) it was right for people to think it would be tough to replicate that again.
“But not only does he score for fun it is the manner he scores – he scores from situations where he has no right to, he is beating three or four people on a regular basis and still finding the finish.
“He has proved people wrong time and time again.”