Salah’s Liverpool exit admission, Klopp’s stance and Real Madrid’s dilemma
Mohamed Salah's superstar status has sky-rocketed since his arrival at Anfield.
After his scintillating first season at Liverpool, the Egyptian has gone on to become a domestic, European and World champion, as well as finishing as the club's top scorer for three seasons running.
But all good things come to an end eventually, and speculation has already begun to swirl around Salah's next move.
Salah himself has set tongues wagging of late, while Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has long predicted he would leave Liverpool sooner rather than later.
Here we look at the current situation surrounding Salah's future, Liverpool's thoughts on resolving it, and potential options available to the forward.
Salah's contract ploy
All the exit talk surrounding Salah has largely been a result of his own doing.
The forward gave an interview to Spanish publication AS last month, during which he referred to both Real Madrid and Barcelona as "top clubs", thus setting the rumour mill in motion.
He added: "We never know what is going to happen in the future, but right now I’m focused on winning the Premier League and the Champions League again with my club."
But rather than his praise of the La Liga giants being a 'come and get me plea', it was deemed as more of a tactic to force Liverpool chiefs to the negotiating table.
It served as a firm reminder to his employers that his current deal will soon be up for renewal – a deal which Salah hopes will reflect his status as one of the world's best.
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It's been an extremely interesting start to the season for Jurgen Klopp's men.
They got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, before going on to conceded seven in a hammering by Aston Villa.
Virgil van Dijk's season was ended by injury in the 2-2 draw at Everton, leaving the title favourites looking far less secure at the back – especially with Alisson's injury worries too.
But there's no slowing down in what is going to be a busy campaign – with Klopp ensuring his men continue at full pace as they bid for more title glory.
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If Salah was hoping his ploy would set panic wheels in motion at Liverpool, he was barking up the wrong tree.
Liverpool have shown themselves to be shrewd operators in the transfer market in recent years, with sporting director Michael Edwards at the helm.
And the club will not be held to ransom by any player – they've proved that much in their discussions with Georginio Wijnaldum.
Like the Dutch midfielder, Liverpool will not want to lose Salah for nothing when the time comes, but are fairly relaxed about the whole situation.
Salah still has another two years left to run on his contract beyond the end of this season for starters.
That takes him up to the age of 31, which is arguably past the point when the forward could easily dictate his own terms.
In addition, his current contract is loaded with bonuses, providing plenty of incentive for Salah going forward in the short-term.
Naturally the only factor which could cause concern at the club is if Liverpool's slump continues and they fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.
That would put a significant dent in Liverpool's finances, though is not something their owners, FSG, are currently expecting being without.
Real Madrid and Barcelona issue
Another reason Liverpool are content with their position is the lack of any potential buyers to break Salah out of his contract.
Real Madrid and Barcelona may have been the next logical step for players of Salah's ilk in years gone by, but the dynamic has significantly shifted.
As a report by The Telegraph explains, both clubs are now 'drowning in debt' and struggling to pay their current players, let alone attract new ones on multi-million pound contracts.
A move for Salah is simply not plausible in today's market, and is unlikely to be a possibility in the near future.
That narrows the field of potential suitors for Salah considerably and, more crucially, with the option of Madrid or Barca no longer on the table, all-but eliminates a key element in his bargaining strategy.
“If you ask, I say I want to stay here as long as I can," Salah told Norwegian channel TV2 this week . "But as I have said before, it is in the hands of the club."
It certainly is, Mo.
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