Premier League • England

Liverpool warned Salah contract move was a threat, as real reasons he could follow Mane out emerge

Mohamed Salah with a Champions League runners up medal

Robbie Fowler reckons a Mohamed Salah contract might never materialise, and explained the reasoning behind such a risky Liverpool strategy.

The Mohamed Salah contract saga remains the elephant in the room at Anfield. The Egyptian, 30, remains one of world football’s most potent attackers.

Indeed, Salah won the Premier League Golden Boot for a third time last year when sharing the award with Son Heung-min. His on-field exploits resulted in scooping both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards.

Yet despite Salah’s obvious prowess, Liverpool thus far remain unwilling to match his salary demands.

Liverpool are hesitant over smashing their wage structure – even for a player of Salah’s calibre. Their reluctance to push the boat out for one player was a factor in Sadio Mane’s recent departure to Bayern Munich.

Varying reports have claimed Salah wishes to be brought in line with the Premier League’s top earners. A salary in the range of £400,000-a-week would be required.

However, writing in his column for the Mirror, Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler explained two major factors why Salah won’t get a new deal.

What’s more, Fowler claimed Salah’s declaration that he will be at Liverpool for the final year of his contract was a carefully calculated threat on the winger’s part.

Fowler doesn’t blame Salah for contract impasse

“I won’t pretend to know what’s going on with his contract, but clearly the answer is: nothing much. And that leaves so many questions unanswered,” wrote Fowler.

“One thing is obvious, the club has done some very clear, precise and unemotional calculations with Mane. He’s 31 in April, has a huge amount of running in his legs, and wanted a huge contract as one of the best players in the world.

“I don’t blame him for that. Mane is the equal of virtually every world class star at the moment, and rightly wanted that recognition with the going rate for the last big contract of his career.

“What Liverpool so obviously did though, was run their analytics – which to their credit they do so well – and decided selling him to buy Darwin Nunez and keep their wage structure in place was the right thing for the club. It begs the question, what calculations have they run on Salah?

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool forward, before the FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley

“Again, I don’t know all the answers, but what screams out to me so clearly, is they won’t be breaking their wage structure to keep him. If they were prepared to do that, it would have happened by now.

“But look, I can’t blame Salah for wanting the going rate, just like Mane did. He’s the Premier League Golden Boot winner, he’s the Footballer of the Year and in with a great shout of the Ballon d’Or top three.

“What salary does a player in the top three in the world command? He obviously believes it’s more than Liverpool are offering. But if my old club are running complex calculations, then so too is Salah – and it can never be a precise science.

“I think him saying no matter what happens with his contract, he’ll be at Anfield next year, was clearly a threat.”

Liverpool worried Salah has peaked?

Wage structure aside, Fowler’s second reason why a new contract might never come related to worries over Salah’s long-term potency.

Fowler continued: “So his calculation is that if he gets to leave Liverpool next summer on a free, with his salary and with a big bonus because there’s no fee, he’ll get that level of wages.

“That can work, often does. But there’s another calculation, which I’m inclined to believe Liverpool are currently running.

“Will he still be the same player next summer? Look, he’s been one of the best in the world for a long time now. But since the turn of the year, he’s been – by his standards – pretty average.

“Look at his goals record. Six from open play in the whole of 2022, a lot of missed chances, some heartache in the Champions League final when he could have won it – and probably the Ballon d’Or along with it.

“So he and Liverpool must ask: is that temporary because of the punishing schedule and his exertions for Egypt? Or is time catching up with him?

“That’s the question other potential suitors must ask too, if and when he becomes available. Can he stay at the summit of world football well into his 30s, or will he begin to fade?

“I have to confess that I’m beginning to believe Liverpool are concerned it will be the latter, otherwise they’d have done more over a new deal. And maybe they’re waiting now to see how he starts next season.

“It’s a tougher calculation that Mane, because they don’t appear to have the option to sell him.”