Mo Salah has repeatedly told the media and supporters that his future is in the club’s hands.
This isn’t entirely true, as in reality, the Egyptian can put pen to paper whenever he likes. But this isn’t a Coutinho 2017/18 situation. Salah wants to stay, providing new financial terms and promises regarding the club’s vision are agreed upon.
“I want to stay, but it’s not in my hands. It’s in their hands,” Salah told GQ. “They know what I want. I’m not asking for crazy stuff.”
“The thing is, when you ask for something, and they show you they can give you something [they should] because they appreciate what you did for the club.
“I’ve been here for my fifth year now. I know the club very well. I love the fans. The fans love me. But with the administration, they have [been] told the situation. It’s in their hands.”
Back in October, he peddled the same message:
“If you ask me, I would love to stay until the last day of my football career, but I can’t say much about that – it’s not in my hands. It depends on what the club want, not on me,” he told Sky Sports.
Considering Salah’s current standing as the world’s best footballer, his and his agent’s bargaining position is very strong. Obviously, they’re asking for serious money, but given his new demands are reportedly only similar to Manchester City signing and substitute Jack Grealish’s £300k/w, it’s comparatively reasonable.
The stumbling blocks are suggested to be more about a commitment from the owner’s to revitalise the squad, but this is hearsay and not confirmed.
Still, the reality is this: FSG, Liverpool’s owners and financiers, have the power to renew Mo’s terms – should they accept his requirements – which he’s now publicly described as ‘nothing crazy’.
So, why the holdup? By this summer, Salah will have entered the final year of his contract, and Liverpool will be in the position PSG are in – about to lose one of the best attackers on the planet (Kylian Mbappe, who is holding out for a Bosman to Real Madrid) for nothing.
Considering Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are also out of contract in 2023, departing sporting director Michael Edwards and his replacement Julian Ward have some serious decisions to make.
Whether we give Bobby and Sadio new deals, or sell them in order to fund some new offensive blood, is up for debate – but Salah is a no-brainer.
Since signing from AS Roma, he has scored 148 goals in 229 games from the right-wing. He has won two Premier League Golden Boots, and is on track for a third this campaign. Once branded ‘selfish’, Salah has 48 assists in this time, too – more than Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero or any other leading Premier League striker. He’s the most lethal and effective player in the country by some distance and the numbers prove that. So does the eye test. When it matters most, Salah can produce moments of unrivalled genius. His wonder-goal versus Manchester City in Autumn remains this season’s iconic juncture.
The fact Salah hasn’t renewed terms yet is becoming an increasing problem. Noises from the club indicate his contract is this January transfer window’s priority, suggesting we won’t sign anybody during a period in which our squad is decimated by injuries, COVID-19 and three stars away at the AFCON.
FSG have never been especially bold in the transfer market, and in many ways, are extremely fortunate to have appointed Jurgen Klopp, a managerial genius who has built a world-class (if small) squad on a limited budget.
The German has led us to Champions League and Premier League glory, but a mere-mortal would not have been able to do so under FSG’s financial constraints.
And it’s this lack of ambition in the transfer market which has frustrated many. The owners have put their foot in it in other ways over recent years, too. The furloughing of staff during the initial lockdown was crude, the attempt to copyright the city’s name vulgar and the European Super League breakaway venture hideous. But there’s a collective feeling that these American franchise-style decisions are explainable from a business perspective and can be weighed up against the expansion of Anfield, the new training facility and the extended commitment to Klopp.
This good v bad has created a (largely online) division between Reds. FSG in or FSG out? But the measured opinion that our owners have been mostly beneficial to the club will evaporate should they mess up the Salah contract.
Fans forgave them for selling Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Coutinho, because all three wanted to leave and pushed for an exit. Actually, the Coutinho sale was incredibly smart business considering the monumental sum we acquired for him, which then enabled us to break the world-record for Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, making them the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and centre-back, temporarily.
If Salah’s contract is the excuse for another dallying window, fine – providing an announcement is made soon. Should Liverpool sign nobody this January, which we won’t, and enter the final months of the season with Salah still unsigned, tension will turn to genuine anger – especially as the player has repeatedly announced his intention to stay.
Ideally this summer, Salah will have already renewed and FSG will finally bankroll an influx of elite young footballers to freshen and strengthen the squad. But we’ve been told, ‘next summer will be the big one’ on many an occasion.