EDEN HAZARD will confirm Mo Salah’s promotion to the Premier League’s elite by taking the shirt off his back tomorrow.
The former team-mates have struck up a friendship which has lasted beyond Salah’s miserable year at Chelsea.
Salah, 25, was ditched by then boss Jose Mourinho — but after 2½ years in exile he joined Liverpool for £34.3million in June and is now the league’s top scorer on nine.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Anfield, Hazard, 26, said: “I will ask him for his shirt, for sure. He is still my friend. We are still in contact together and he’s a top, top, top player.
“He did not get his chance at Chelsea but we know, in the team, the quality he has. He is a fantastic striker — this season he has scored a lot of goals. He didn’t get the chance at Chelsea. Maybe because of the manager, maybe because of the players, I don’t know.
“But remember, in this period it was me, Willian, Oscar, Juan Mata, so for him it was not easy. Now I am just happy for him. I was watching him when he played for Roma and he did very well.”
It is a huge mark of respect when one of the world’s top players like Hazard wants your shirt — not vice versa.
Salah did take the Belgian’s original squad No 17 from him when Hazard snapped up the No 10 shirt in honour of his ultimate hero Zinedine Zidane.
Just three league appearances underlines how Salah failed to convince former boss Mourinho of his qualities.
The Egyptian was dispatched on loan to Fiorentina and Roma after just 12 months at Stamford Bridge — and it looked like £11m had been thrown away by Chelsea.
One-time Blues team-mate Frank Lampard described him as a “timid” character, which would not have helped win over Mourinho.
But goal-hungry winger Salah’s input was enough to land a Premier League winner’s medal for 2015 before he left for Italy’s Serie A.
Now he has scored one more goal than Chelsea’s leading striker, Alvaro Morata, this season and is preparing for next summer’s World Cup finals as a further reminder of his ability.
And Hazard said: “When you are not playing at one club, you need to go. If I am not playing, I want to go. That’s normal.
“It’s good to have friends in this world because in football you can’t have a lot of friends. We discuss everything: life, football, everything. But we need to be careful with him at Anfield.
“I will speak with him tomorrow. I want to put pressure on him! But Liverpool is not only about Salah, they have a lot of players.”
Hazard insists Chelsea can handle the draining effects of their long-haul trip to Azerbaijan to face FK Qarabag in the Champions League on Wednesday.
It left them just today as the only full day to prepare for tomorrow’s Premier League showdown at Liverpool.
The Blues are third, nine points off leaders Manchester City, with Liverpool only three points back in fifth.
But Hazard said: “I feel good after the Champions League, 100 per cent. A lot of players didn’t play against Qarabag, so we can deal with this.”