The days keep rolling, the days continue to tick down, and Mohamed Salah and Liverpool seem no closer to agreeing a contract extension.
The Salah issue loomed large over the entirety of Liverpool’s 2021/22 season. Will he or won’t he sign an extension? Despite the victories and the two trophies, that gnawing feeling at the back of the head wouldn’t go away, and it was the Salah contract stalemate.
We have already seen Sadio Mané walk away from the club this summer. Could Liverpool also see Salah leave too?
Mané’s case was different, of course. After six years at Anfield, the Senegal forward believed he needed a new challenge and decided to leave for Bayern Munich. That differs to Salah, whose dilemma, despite his own proclamations, does seem to be money-based.
Salah maintains that the dispute with Liverpool isn’t purely ‘about money’, but if isn’t, then why hasn’t he signed? If sporting ambition is what he’s after, he couldn’t be in a better place than Liverpool, playing for one of the two preeminent coaches of the modern era in a side that routinely challenges for the biggest prizes.
Aside from weather or lifestyle choices, there is no non-monetary reason for him to want to leave Liverpool, and this is what is puzzling Liverpool fans.
Salah already earns around £200k-per-week, and is among the most well-paid players at Liverpool. Given his massive contribution to Liverpool last season, and pretty much since he arrived, he feels he should be compensated in line with what other high-calibre players are earning.
And this is fair enough, but he also needs to remember that he’s on the wrong side of 30 now, and clubs aren’t going to be tripping over themselves attempting to sign a 30-year-old who is demanding massive wages. Football in the post-Covid landscape is completely different to what came before, and most of the top European sides are facing financial ruin. This narrows down Salah’s options.
Real Madrid could be interested after losing out on Kylian Mbappé; Barcelona seem intent on signing Robert Lewandowski; Juventus have Dušan Vlahović and Federico Chiesa; Bayern signed Mané, and Paris Saint-Germain would likely need to sell several players before making a bid.
Of the top European sides, Salah really doesn’t have many alternatives. He could move to a big club within England, but given his affinity for Liverpool, despite the contract stand-off, it’s unlikely that he would swap one Premier League club for another. Leaks from his camp have suggested that he may do just this, but surely that is little more than posturing.
From a Liverpool perspective, perhaps the time is right to sell him this summer, and make a profit on the £34m they spent on him in 2017, rather than lose him for free in a year’s time. The club shouldn’t be held to ransom by Salah, and perhaps it might be best for the club to take a pre-emptive strike and make the decision to offload him now. It would cause some ruffles among fans, but it would be the best move in the long run.
This way, Liverpool could also gain a semblance of control over Salah’s destination. The player would obviously need to assent to any move, but if FSG accepted a lucrative offer from abroad, it would most likely avoid the nightmare scenario of a move to Manchester City or Chelsea. The lack of obvious suitors would also need to be overcome, but Real Madrid could be a prime option.
Great players come and go at Liverpool, and that is something Salah needs to remember. It may have been Mané who initiated the Bayern move, but it was nonetheless a reminder that nobody is unsellable: the longer there is no contract compromise this summer, the more tempting a sale becomes.