Mohamed Salah is “trying a little bit too hard”, says Emile Heskey, with the Liverpool forward reluctant to lose a standing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Egyptian positioned himself among the global elite in 2017-18 as he plundered 44 goals during a stunning debut season at Anfield.
More of the same was expected in his second, with Jurgen Klopp looking to a fearsome attacking unit to lead challenges for major silverware.
Liverpool are in contention for Premier League and Champions League prizes, with Salah netting 20 times along the way, but their Golden Boot winner has gone seven games without finding the target.
That represents the worst run of his time on Merseyside, leading to suggestions that the 26-year-old has become selfish in his bid to snap out of a slump.
Former Liverpool striker Heskey believes that is part of the problem, telling Sky Sports: “He’s still got 17 goals [in the Premier League], so he’s not having that bad a season but he’s probably just trying a little bit too hard.
“He’s looking at the season before when he was scoring all these goals, confidence was high, things were ricocheting then going in.
“He’s not getting that luck now, but he still wants to get the goals and everyone is still looking at him as that go-to guy for the goals.
“There’s times when he should be passing the ball but he’s wanting to score himself. That is the danger.
“When you’re going through that patch you need the balance. You need to know when to pass the ball, when to take the shot.
“You’ve got to remember we were talking of him last season in the same vein as Messi and Ronaldo, so he’s probably got that in his head as well, so he wants to be scoring the goals like they are.”
While Salah has become stuck in a rut, fellow frontman Sadio Mane has hit a rich vein of form which has delivered 11 goals in as many games.
Heskey added on the Senegalese star: “It’s a blessing for Liverpool isn’t it, that they have someone of his stature – someone of his ability – to step in to the plate where Salah has failed to produce.
“He’s such a dynamic, quick player.
“If you look at the season before, he went through little spells where he was scoring three goals, four goals, but now he seems to be making it more consistent.”