Editor’s Column: Running down Mo Salah’s contract might be Liverpool’s best bet

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The situation regarding Mo Salah’s Liverpool contract is unchanged.

The Egyptian, whose position is being argued by his lawyer and agent Ramy Abbas Issa, believes his performances warrant wages above £400k/week – making him the second highest paid player in the Premier League behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

Liverpool are keen to sign Salah onto a big new extension, with a massive increase in wages, but something that is closer to £300k/week with performance-related add-ons.

This has been the case for the entire season, and neither party are currently showing signs of budging.

Jurgen Klopp and club insiders repeatedly tell the media that the situation isn’t a problem, but the reality is that it’s more toxic and difficult than is being let on.

“Mo definitely expects this club to be ambitious, we were in the last few years and we are. Of course we cannot do much more (in talks), that is how it is but it is Mo’s decision,” the boss said in early March. 

“From my point of view, it is exactly like it should be at this time. Nothing happened further, no signing, no rejections. We just have to wait, it is completely fine.”

Abbas Issa tweeting a set of laughing emojis after the interview was a thinly-veiled rejection of the manager’s attempt to pacify the growing angst.

But what the lawyer did, actually, was weaken his client’s position – as his attack on Klopp was met with disdain from Liverpool supporters. Some fans who previously blamed FSG for not spending whatever it took to renew the 29-year-old, began to turn on Abbas Issa.

The reality is though, as hard as it for Liverpool fans to admit, is that the agent will not be doing anything without the approval of Salah. Effectively, Abbas Issa is the buffer for Salah to present his honest feelings regarding the negotiations to the world.

Salah, who obviously know he has to stay professional while doing so, has told the media in every interview that he wants to stay at Liverpool and that the contract situation is entirely in the club’s hands. He’s also stated he isn’t asking for anything crazy, although the numbers men at the club obviously think otherwise.

This in itself is obviously a little disingenuous from Salah as he can simply put pen to paper whenever he chooses, but the two parties, who want to come together providing its on their own terms, are keen to subtly put blame on the other for the stalemate.

So, where do Liverpool go from here?

There are a few elements in the club’s favour. Players who leave Klopp’s Liverpool don’t go on to better things. Ask Coutinho, Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum. Salah has obviously been immense for the Reds, but Klopp’s coaching and footballing style has helped propel him to this position. Salah will know he might not have it better, football-wise, anywhere on the planet – especially given the team he currently stars for is fighting for a never-done-before quadruple.

Secondly, the clubs who would historically go in for Salah are in difficult situations. Barcelona cannot afford the wages he’s asking of Liverpool – that is a legal fact. Real Madrid would like him but they’re about to commit an insane amount of wages to Kylian Mbappe for the next decade. Juventus are not what they were. Bayern Munich will not pay his wages. This leaves PSG, who are a crackpot club with no certainty over manager or playing style and Manchester City. There is surely zero chance of Salah joining our biggest sporting rivals on a free transfer in 2023, even if Abbas Issa has released a hint to the media that he would consider it – another attempt to force Liverpool’s hand – of course.

Liverpool’s options then are threefold.

Option 1) We cash in on Salah this summer, and see which of the aforementioned clubs can offer the player the package he requires and us a fee close to £100m.

Option 2) We give in to Salah’s contract demands now and tie him to the club for the rest of his peak years.

Option 3) We refuse to sell Salah this summer and play the waiting game, accepting the possibility that Salah could leave for nothing.

For months now, fans have debated between Option 1 and Option 2, believing Option 3 to be the worst outcome – but given the current situation – that might not be the case.

The benefits of Option 3 are as follows. Liverpool can decide to pay Salah’s new wage demands at any time (unless there is a complete breakdown and the saga leads to the player actually wanting to leave). This will save us money for the months in which he’s in his current contract and buy us time to assess the market and consider a replacement.

If we sell Mo this summer for £100m-odd, we will need a right-sided inside-forward to come in immediately and provide the output the Egyptian has. Considering Salah’s finishing numbers, this is a basically impossible task, even with a considerable war-chest at our disposal. It might be better to bring in a younger player this summer to learn from Salah during the Egyptian’s hypothetical last season at the club – almost like how Ibrahima Konate has come in and rotated in and out of the side this term.

With Option 3, can also properly evaluate whether Salah’s age will lead him into decline. So far, it hasn’t, and his insane physicality and injury record suggests he still has three/four years at the very, very top. If Salah is still head and shoulders above everyone else in the Premier League next term, it might be time to cough up and pay what’s required. But if the 30-year-old Salah dips, or begins to pick up niggling injuries, maybe the player himself will accept what’s currently on the table – or Liverpool will begin to look less worryingly at life without him from 2023/24 onwards.

Obviously, in a perfect world from a fan point of view, Liverpool and Salah would agree a contract ASAP. His financial request to be paid more than the likes of Jack Grealish, John Stones, David de Gea, Romelu Lukaku and Rapha Varane – amongst others – is completely fair. But if the club were going to they would have already done it. We’re now looking at the best possible options given two stubborn parties who are not budging, with both having legitimate reasons for their position.

What we at least know is that Salah is a wonderful professional and will still give his absolute all for Liverpool even if next season is his last in red. Regardless of what happens next, he will go down as one of our greatest ever players. Let’s just hope that Abbas Issa can keep off Twitter and not turn the talks into social media-driven soap opera.


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1 Comment

  1. I can see us losing both Salah and Mane this summer unless FSG make huge contract deals, someone of Salah’s capabilities elsewhere would get £400k a week plus easily and Mane around the £250-350K a week.
    We all know Liverpool and FSG won’t pay that sort of money as it will destroy the wage structure they have built.
    My argument is that in my opinion Salah has done everything and more to rightfully deserve to be paid a huge last contract, if Liverpool won’t offer it, PSG, Real Madrid or someone else will.. as other than Lewandowski their is no other player scoring 20/30 goals per season at the minute.

    We either get closer to what both our superstars want or risk losing them in the summer, some may say that Diaz is Mane’s replacement which is fine from watching him in the last few weeks but whose Salah’s replacement? We don’t have one, H.Elliott is no where near as GREAT as Salah, so if we only do one thing this summer, Get Salah’s huge contract wrapped up and sorted please FSG

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