The Sun (Malaysia)

What Salah’s dressing room speech says about Liverpool future


JURGEN KLOPP hasn’t had a knock on his office door. But Dominik Szoboszlai heard the speech in the dressing room.

Mohamed Salah had told his teammates he is staying, the Hungarian reported. The Egyptian, according to his manager, has never come to tell him he was leaving.

The German, seeing Salah’s commitment in matches and training, noting his input in meetings of the players’ leadership group, had not felt the need to ask him if his next match would be for Al-Ittihad.

“For me it wasn’t a subject for one second, to be honest,” Klopp said.

Perhaps only for him. Klopp could brush aside a £150 million (RM870m) bid, with a breezy indifferen­ce to the prospect of a windfall, because of Salah’s attitude.

The Saudi Pro League transfer window remains open but Liverpool’s position is unchanging – there was no wave that could be interprete­d as a farewell on the pitch afterwards and his hug with Klopp was brief. There was a feeling of normality, though these are abnormal times.

More than a few would be distracted by the prospect of becoming the best-paid player in the world: not Salah. Other footballer­s, from Matheus

Nunes to Wilfried Gnonto, went on strike towards the end of the window. Salah instead struck against Villa.

Such dissent as he has shown this season came at Chelsea on the opening weekend when he contrived to rip a relatively small bandage into several pieces and fling it on the pitch in his annoyance at being substitute­d. Yet it was all a sign of an enduring ambition: to play, to excel.

The signs are that it is to continue at Liverpool. He has propelled himself to greatness in Europe in a way that was not preordaine­d – not for a player from his background, not for a fringe figure at Chelsea – and perhaps he is reluctant to give up his spot at the top table.

Saudi Arabia may not be a retirement home for everyone, but it is for some. Salah’s old sidekicks Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are there but Salah is in the sort of shape to suggest that, even at 31, he is not entering his dotage.

Even as Erling Haaland seems to have supplanted him as the annual Golden Boot winner, he may be more creative than before. Perhaps no forward in the Premier League presents such an all-round threat.

As the best-paid player in Liverpool’s history, he is scarcely a pauper. Yet, in a time of transition at Anfield, when the side of 2024 may not reach the heights of some of its recent predecesso­rs, it is notable that Salah has given no indication­s

he is going.

Liverpool will tend to sell anyone when three criteria are met: when the offer is big enough, when the player wants to go and when Klopp has the time to recruit a replacemen­t, should he need one.

Al-Ittihad only ticked one of those three boxes and increasing the bid to, say, £200m (RM1.16b) would not change that.

If Klopp, his players and the fanbase who sang about their Egyptian king are in harmony, the most intriguing element of the Liverpool coalition is the owners.

Fenway Sports Group traded their way to the top; Liverpool’s rise was financed in part by selling very well. Financial logic dictates that nine-figure sums for players in their thirties must be accepted.

The case for keeping Salah is partly footballin­g, partly fiscal, given the value of Champions League qualificat­ion, partly a case of morale and status and keeping Klopp happy.

Taking £150m for Salah, who could leave on a free transfer in 2025, might have seemed a nobrainer. But it would also be accepting defeat; for Liverpool but maybe for Salah, too. – The Independen­t

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