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‘There has to be one who is selfish’ – Owen defends Salah amid rumours of rift with Mane at Liverpool

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen has insisted that Mohamed Salah’s selfish streak is a positive attribute, despite a recent spat with Sadio Mane.

The Reds have started the 2019-20 campaign in superb fashion, winning all four of their games against Norwich, Southampton, Arsenal and Burnley to race ahead at the top of the Premier League standings.

Salah has netted three goals so far, while Mane has contributed two to Liverpool’s cause, but rumours of a rift between the pair surfaced after their last fixture at Turf Moor.

Mane vented his frustration towards the Liverpool bench following his substitution during the second half of the 3-0 victory over Burnley, having been denied the chance to score his second goal of the game when Salah failed to play him through.

The Egyptian had the opportunity to set up his Reds teammate for a clear chance, but he was instead dispossessed after trying to run into the box by himself.

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Salah in action for Liverpool

Owen, who played for Liverpool between 1996 and 2004, has defended Salah’s actions, insisting that “there has to be one who is selfish” in a successful attacking side.

He told ESPN: “When you look at Liverpool’s front three, you have Roberto Firmino, who is probably the most unselfish player in the world – he would lay on anything – so would be a dream to play with.

“At the other end of the spectrum, you have Mo Salah, who is just focused on scoring and wanting to be the goalscorer. Then you have Sadio Mane, who sits in between – he likes scoring and is selfish when he needs to be – but he’s also quite generous in his passing.

“I think you have a great balance there, but it just boiled over the other day. I was doing the [Burnley vs Liverpool] game for television and I said at the time: ‘Have you seen that? There are a couple of times he [Salah] should have been passing.’

“Of course, it all blew up and I saw it coming in many ways. These problems happen all the time and it’s Jurgen Klopp’s job to smooth them over. But I do think that, as a striker, there is a balance in everything.

“There has to be one that’s unselfish and one who is selfish, otherwise you are never going to get any goals. I was always at my best with Emile Heskey – he was really unselfish and I was a really selfish so-and-so.

“But put me with another selfish player – another striker who was hungry for goals – and you wouldn’t necessarily hit it off the same.”

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Mane has scored two goals in four appearances for Liverpool this season

Next up for Liverpool is a showdown with Newcastle on Septemeber 14 at Anfield, where they will be expected to maintain their perfect start to the season.

Owen does not feel that there will be any lasting tension between Mane and Salah, as he added: “I don’t think it will be a problem that will last.

“Next time Salah gets the ball, he will probably be more conscious that he has to pass sometimes, if there is a better opportunity.

“If he does, I guess it will be forgotten about, but these players are playing right on the edge at the very highest level and little things can just happen like that. It’s fine. These things happen all the time in every dressing-room – you get arguing all the time.”

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