The Zenit St. Petersburg mainstay is a former teammate of the Liverpool and Egypt superstar
Football icon Mohamed Salah's close friend Dejan Lovren has suggested that the Premier League top scorer, who is currently at the Africa Cup of Nations, missed out on FIFA's best player award because he is not European.
To the outrage of many, the forward who is currently arguably the world's most in-form player was overlooked for the Men's award for 2021 in favor of Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, also failing to make the governing body's team of best players.
Furious Salah fans vented their anger online, with some calling his treatment a "disgrace" as he missed out on a second individual award in quick succession after Lionel Messi won the Ballon d'Or for a record seventh time in December 2021.
Croatia center-back Lovren, who won the Champions League with Salah and the Reds in 2019 and the Premier League the following year, has joined the chorus of disapproval with some strong words.
"No place for Mo Salah to be placed in the FIFA world 11? Again," Lovren complained to his millions of Twitter, adding multiple exclaimation marks to emphasize his annoyance.
"People with knowledge about football know that he deserves to be in there," he added, echoing the words of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp about Salah's standing among the modern greats of the game. "What needs to be done to be there? Maybe a European passport."
"It's called being an African, Dejan," suggested one follower, adding that Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy won best goalkeeper but was not in FIFA's best 11 team, while Salah was in the top three but was overlooked in favor of Borussia Dortmund prodigy Erling Haaland and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in the lineup.
"Don't agree with you on some things, Dejan, but on this, you are 100 percent right. Absolutely criminal Mo isn't in there," replied another.
2018 World Cup finalist Lovren replied by accepting that "life is about balance."
"Sometimes I am wrong, sometimes you [are]," the 32-year-old, who joined Zenit for $15 million in 2020, added.
When Lovren left Anfield, Klopp described Salah and the defender who spent six years at the club as best friends.
Lovren appears well settled in Russia, sharing a photo of himself and his Zenit teammates on a coach this week ahead of the return of the Russian Premier League following its winter break.
"Hard training session this morning but we are keeping our smiles on," he wrote ahead of their first match since a 1-1 draw on December 12 against Dynamo Moscow.
Lovren has also offered his support to vilified tennis world number one Novak Djokovic following his visa issues and deportation from Australia.
"Champion on and off the court," he wrote, sharing a picture of the reigning Australian Open champion who will now not feature at the tournament.
Lovren's Croatia secured their place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar by beating Russia 1-0 in their final qualifier in November 2021, consigning Valeri Karpin's side to the playoffs.