Liverpool: Would Reds fans begrudge Salah leaving?
Liverpool may not be able to stave off talk of Mohamed Salah joining Real Madrid or Barcelona by handing the winger a new long-term contract because of the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been claimed. Salah left the door open to a potential future switch to either of the La Liga giants by calling them “two top clubs” and adding: “Who knows what will happen in the future.”
Though the Egyptian winger insisted his immediate priority is to try and win the Premier League and the Champions League with Liverpool again, the 28-year-old continued: “Right now I can say that everything is in the hands of the club.
“Of course I want to break records here and, I repeat, all the club records, but everything is in the hands of the club.”
Salah was speaking with Madrid-based Spanish outlet AS in a rare interview, with the 16-goal attacker known not to regularly have sit-down chats with the media.
His comments have therefore sparked concern on Merseyside although some reports have suggested Liverpool are almost certain to offer Salah a new and improved contract at Anfield.
However, The Athletic’s Simon Hughes – speaking on the Ornstein and Chapman podcast – insists the £200,000-a-week wide-man will not be extending his terms any time soon.
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That is because the global COVID-19 crisis, which has prevented Liverpool from playing in front of a sold-out crowd at Anfield in any competition since March, has taken a toll on the club’s financial revenues.
And Hughes says ultimately the call over Salah’s future, with his current contract tying him down to Liverpool until June 2023 when he will be 31 years old, will come down to Jurgen Klopp.
The German coach will have to decide whether to give the green light to a big-money exit as his current side steadily all begin to enter their late 20s and early 30s, with a rebuild not too far away.
The fact Liverpool may not be able to offer Salah a new contract between now and the summer of 2021, when Salah will enter the final two years of his deal and his value will then only diminish, may mean the player’s long-term future lies elsewhere unless they hope to tie him down to an extension before he enters the final 12 months of his existing terms.
“Bit of both really,” Hughes said when asked whether Klopp or sporting director Michael Edwards will decide whether or not Salah stays.
“Liverpool would never make a decision that Jurgen Klopp didn’t want. But he’s in an unfamiliar territory as well, Jurgen Klopp.
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“At his previous clubs when he was at Mainz he had his best players taken away from him and when he was at Borussia Dortmund he had one slash one-and-a-half great teams that he built at that club but he there was always the potential for his best players to go to Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.
“At Liverpool the situation is slightly different, he’s not going to lose players to any other Premier League clubs cause Liverpool are the leading team.
“There’s still the threat of Barcelona and Real Madrid I suppose but Liverpool have done better than them over the last couple of seasons, or have been more convincing in Europe anyway.
“It’s new territory for him to try and decide or decipher when is the best time to let go.
“I think from Liverpool’s point of view, even though I think Liverpool hold more power in this discussion, one of the big problems is that Liverpool’s revenues through the pandemic have diminished considerably.
“They’re not really in a position with two-and-a-half years left on his [Salah’s] contract, to say, ‘Well here you go [here’s a new deal]’ – he’s one of the best-paid players at the club if not the best-paid player – and to extend his contract further at this moment in time.
“The timing is very interesting. I spoke to people at the club and the message coming from the club is that Klopp is fine with what Salah’s said but I do think it’s one to watch over the coming months, particularly ahead of the summer.
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“There’s obviously big change at Barcelona with a new president who is going to have to make some major changes to that club to get them back in the right direction cause they’re miles away at the moment.
“Equally Real Madrid, there’s going to be big changes there soon enough as well. It is one to follow.
“Some people have batted it away but genuinely, I can’t emphasise this enough, he does not do interviews and anything he does do, it’s for a reason. I think it’s definitely one to watch.”
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher said of Salah’s comments on Sky Sports: “I don’t think it’s really a debate as much now as it was a few years ago
“I think even when Manchester United were top dogs and Cristiano Ronaldo went to Real Madrid it still felt like a step up in some ways because Real Madrid were Real Madrid. But I really do feel the two Spanish giants have fallen so far.
“Salah has two-and-a-half years to go. I’m not really looking at it as too much of a problem.
“Real Madrid spent a lot of money on [Eden] Hazard when he was at that age. Salah is getting to that age now.
“I just think that when you’re wanting to spend that kind of money you want them to be 25, 26 to get that real value for them.
“If he did go – I don’t see it – then it would be massive money for Liverpool, but I just think the time now has sort of gone.”
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