Having existed in a world that – beyond Liverpool fans – virtually all turned a blind eye to the extent of Mo Salah’s brilliance since his move from Roma in 2017, it was difficult to see another set of circumstances trumping this reality for absurdity.
As recent events would have it, we stand corrected on the matter.
Various media outlets have truly outdone themselves this time by daring to suggest that Liverpool fans, of all people, aren’t appreciative enough of the No.11 following his remarkable exploits during our 2-2 draw with Manchester City at the weekend.
Mo Salah! The ‘Egyptian King’ – the man Anfield handed a figurative crown – is, according to some, not idolised by the Kop.
To put things into context, publications from across the nation had been put on red alert after the former Roma attacker weaved his way around a Manchester City defence before slotting an effort past Ederson that deserved to secure a lion’s share of the points for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
‘A moment of magic’ wouldn’t do any justice to the event, nor to the ease with which the Egyptian international darted into the opposition box as if he were being puppeteered by a Playstation control whilst FIFA was set on beginner mode.
Salah’s coronation had come a long time ago – at least as far as Liverpool supporters were concerned. However, it seemed that this was the game that inspired genuine recognition from outside of Merseyside, launching the 29-year-old into that thin stratosphere occupied by only the globe’s most exalted talents.
Comparisons to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo seem to have suddenly become more prevalent.
With his contract set to expire in two years’ time, the moment only served to further exacerbate certain fears and raise uncomfortable questions; questions some were bold enough to provide answers to that diverged from the prevailing common theme within the fanbase.
For the sake of clarity: we at the Empire of the Kop can’t bear the idea of Salah leaving Liverpool on or before his contract expires in 2023.
But… is there a genuine case out there that can confidently argue why we shouldn’t be inclined to hand the ex-Chelsea star fresh terms?
The most obvious point that has been made revolves around the wide man’s age, with the prospect of an inevitable decline fuelling hesitation.
As we’ll explain in more detail later, that point of view seems to be somewhat flawed.
Didi Hamann recently argued that, even if our talismanic forward should decide his future lies beyond Anfield, it would open an ‘opportunity’ for another to step into.
Given the widely discussed circumstances set to kick in in the near future with regard to a couple of European superstars, we can only imagine that the former Liverpool midfielder was referring to Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
With the former’s contract expiring next summer and the latter set to be available for an affordable release clause at the same point, there would certainly be some quality options about who could potentially fill Salah’s boots.
This would involve a gamble of epic proportions, however, for several reasons.
Firstly, without a verbal agreement between player and interested party prior to the window in question, the club would be assuming that they could fend off a host of European heavyweights to land either one of the continent’s hottest properties.
The French World Cup-winner has already made it expressly clear that he’d have only ditched Paris St. Germain in the summer window just gone for La Liga giants Real Madrid.
Haaland, on the other hand, is less predictable.
Secondly, we’d be trusting in either talent being suitable for the English top-flight – which may not necessarily be the case despite their obvious ability.
Thirdly, there’s absolutely no guarantee that either star would be prepared to accept Salah’s current wages at Liverpool; if anything, there’s good cause to believe they’d demand remuneration in excess of that which our No.11 is reportedly requesting.
All in all, we’d be potentially throwing the dice on finding another hidden talent Klopp could develop into the kind of world-class attacking talent we all get to enjoy today in the form of our Eygptian King.
It tends to suit the German just fine. However, being confident in the former Mainz boss’ ability to find and develop the next big thing doesn’t mean that there isn’t room to accommodate the world-beaters we have in our squad right now.
The argument for letting Gini Wijnaldum go, painful as it was, was justifiable to a certain extent given genuine concerns over how effective he could be for Liverpool into his 30s.
When it comes to Mo Salah, however, there can be no argument that his obsessive approach to conditioning – not to mention his belief that he’s only going to get better – means we’re likely to get his ‘best years’ up until his mid-30s.
Five years of brilliance might, for some, pale in comparison to the possibility of a decade with either one of Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland.
Regardless, we’d be gambling on sustained brilliance from either of the pair – and that’s assuming we could convince one of the two to make the switch to Anfield in the near future.
By comparison, we’ve got a near sure thing in our Egyptian King; something we’d realistically regret giving up if Liverpool gambled on a future without him.
We could always find ‘another Salah’ down the line, of course, but it’s hardly the case that players of the Egyptian’s calibre grow on trees.
Why then should the club turn its nose up at potentially five (or more) seasons of pure brilliance?