Mohamed Salah’s future at Liverpool has been speculated about frequently over the course of the last few months.
After Salah granted an interview to Spanish newspaper AS in December in which he didn’t immediately dismiss the prospect of one day playing for Real Madrid or Barcelona, many fans wondered whether the Egyptian was trying to engineer a move away from Anfield.
Others, however, including the Athletic’s Simon Hughes, are of the opinion that the Reds’ number 11 is keen to renew his deal at the club and every media appearance made by him or his agent, Ramy Abbas, should be viewed as the duo attempting to gain leverage in negotiations with the club.
Soon to be 29, Salah is in the prime of his career but the window to make a substantial profit on the £36.5m paid to Roma for his services in the summer of 2017 is shrinking. Many clubs — Arsenal, for example, were reluctant to hand lengthy contracts to players in their late 20’s and early 30’s during Arsene Wenger’s reign — find themselves at a crossroads when their star players enter their late 20’s.
Players are generally at the peak of their powers when they are approaching their 30’s, but –such is the fickle nature of the sport — regression can set in quickly, especially in a physical sense as years of action begin to catch up with their legs. No club wants a scenario where a player begins to diminish on their dime and see their market value decline. So there is clearly an unwillingness to financially commit to a footballer entering the autumn of their career.
In the case of Salah, though, Liverpool would be well advised to agree on a deal with their top scorer and give him a contract that will see him spend the entirety of his peak years at Anfield.
The Egyptian international — and we see the evidence festooned regularly on his Instagram account — is in tremendous physical shape and his dedication to his fitness has meant that he has only missed four league games through injury in his almost four years of representing the Reds.
Such longevity and robustness is difficult to find and, especially in a financially depressed pandemic climate, the more efficient course of monetary action could be to reach a compromise with the former Chelsea attacker rather than search for a replacement on the market.
Blessed with pace, there is a school of thought that Salah’s attacking prowess could begin to wane considerably when his pace begins to dwindle, which is an inevitability which faces every player. But, considering the style of football employed by the majority of teams facing the Reds, it is not as if the forward can utilise his speed, as is.
Most teams, to borrow a footballing cliche, park the bus against Liverpool and there is no opportunity for Salah — or Sadio Mane, for that matter — to stretch their legs and turn on their afterburners, given there is no space to run into.
Despite this, the Egyptian has adapted his game and he is still one of the, if not the, most potent attackers in the Premier League and is a much more rounded player — in terms of his ability to hold up the ball and his passing ability — than the one who broke the Premier League single-season 38 game goal-scoring record in his debut season with the Merseyside giants.
Fiercely devoted to his craft, Salah, by all accounts, spends an extended period of time in the gym, doing extras and pushing himself to improve and to gain more strength. This zeal and industry is a hugely positive trait to have in a squad and the example set by the Egpytian creates an environment of excellence.
New signings and younger players coming into the first-team picture — the likes of Curtis Jones — will see the standard of dedication it takes to make it to the highest levels of the game and this culture is crucial when it comes to players improving and pushing themselves to set new standards.
Liverpool will have a busy summer in the transfer market, but their number one priority should be to nail down Salah — the player will be their top scorer for four consecutive seasons — to a new contract. The Egyptian is built different and there is no reason why he cannot keep the level he is currently operating at up for the foreseeable future.