Unai Emery has revealed he turned down the chance so sign Mohamed Salah when Paris-Saint-Germain boss as he was not convinced by his ability to shine at a big club.
The Spaniard, now in charge of Arsenal, will come up against Salah and his team-mates on Saturday, with Premier League leaders Liverpool looking to maintain their unbeaten season.
Salah has been a revelation since moving to Merseyside from Roma in the summer of 2017, scoring 59 goals in 78 matches across all competitions.
“We spoke about the possibility to sign Salah to Paris Saint-Germain when he was playing at Roma,” Emery said, ahead of this weekend’s huge showdown at Anfield.
“We had some doubts – and then he signed for Liverpool and these doubts he has broken at Liverpool. Now, if you are speaking about the five top players in the world, one is Salah.”
Asked what the specific doubts were, Emery added: “Can he take the performance into one big team?
“For example like PSG in Paris. And today I can say to you… if we signed him, we signed one player in the top five in the world.”
Emery highlighted the signing of Salah – and the later addition of centre-back Virgil van Dijk – as key moments in Jurgen Klopp’s development of his title challengers.
“I remember three years ago they had a problem in their defensive moments and bought some people – for example van Dijk – with a good investment and the result is we are looking at them today and their progress,” he said.
“They are very strong in defence and also they are improving a lot when they bought Salah and now offensively they are a very big team.
“I think the Premier League is now the best and most important competition in the world for the teams, with Spain, maybe Italy and Germany.
“But I think here are the best teams and players and now the leader in the table is Liverpool – and it is because they are doing things very well.”
You can listen to live commentary of Liverpool vs Arsenal on talkSPORT this Saturday, kick-off 17:30