Liverpool's problem with Mohamed Salah is not a major one, but it is something that many clubs would love to have. Their world-class player is currently the best, and he's scoring in almost every match he plays. Liverpool's only problem is that he has not signed a new contract. His terms expire in 2023 and each outstanding performance increases the pressure on their negotiation team.
Now, the big question is whether Salah is putting Liverpool's American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) in an impossible position. Salah could become Liverpool's highest-paid player if he signs a new contract at Anfield. Defender Virgil van Dijk is currently in that position, having signed a deal worth a reported 300,000.
ESPN was told this week by sources that Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund's striker, will be asking for wages of over 500,000 per week to sign for one the many clubs looking to hire him next summer. The cost of having him in your team is starting to rise and Salah deserves to be in the same bracket with Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Each time Salah scores a goal or makes a match-winning contribution to Jurgen Klopp’s team, he not only makes himself more valuable but also strengthens his position in contract negotiations.
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If football had not been so badly affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, Liverpool might have offered Salah at the conclusion of last season. For a long time, speculation has been swirling that he is linked to a move to Spain's LaLiga. FSG's success at Anfield has seen them sign players at relatively low fees and make a profit when the right moment comes. Liverpool may have found it too tempting to accept Salah's offer to move him on last summer, with two years left on his contract.
Philippe Coutinho was transferred to Barcelona in January 2018 for a transfer fee totalling 142m. Liverpool let their best player go, but cleverly reinvested every penny to sign Van Dijk (75m Southampton) and Alisson (67m AS Roma). This decision was decisive in winning the Champions League in 2019 as well as the Premier League one year later.
Liverpool could have chosen the same route with Salah. However, the financial realities of the pandemic and the inability to raise the transfer fees required to transfer the 29-year old away from Anfield have destroyed the transfer market. It may be different in 2022, especially if he scores at will. However, Liverpool would make a big mistake if they put profit before the cost of keeping him.
Mo Salah is undoubtedly the best player currently in the world. Chloe Knott- Danehouse/Getty Images
After his August move from Juventus to Manchester United, Ronaldo is now the highest-paid Premier League player. Sources tell ESPN that Ronaldo earns 480,000 per week at Old Trafford. After briefly climbing to the top of the Premier League's pay league with a 385,000-a week contract signed in April by Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City midfielder, Salah and his advisors will be able to argue that he is worthy to surpass both Ronaldo and De Bruyne.
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Klopp said this season that Salah is the best player in world football right now. Therefore, it would be risky for Liverpool to tell Salah that, despite his star billing and being a great player, he doesn't deserve a salary deal.
FSG's past approach to recruitment and contracts does not allow for a salary of 30m per year over the next four or five decades. FSG believes that the player must have some value at the end his contract. They wouldn't see much in a 34-year old who has only earned 120m-150m wages.
They have to ask: Who could replace Salah? And how much would it cost?
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Tottenham demanded 150m from clubs to sign Harry Kane as a striker this summer. Man City declined to pay it. However, if that's what it takes to land Kane, then Salah is worth a lot more for many reasons.
Salah (102) has scored more Premier League goals than Kane (89) in the last five years, and has received more assists (37 to 23). His fitness record is also important. Since arriving from Roma in 2017, Salah has missed three Liverpool matches due to illness or injury. Kane missed 42 Tottenham matches during that same time period -- more than an entire season. The Egyptian footballer has become a huge commercial success, largely due to his playing for Liverpool, which is a global club.
Simply put, Liverpool could not find a replacement for Salah that was comparable to Salah's without spending far more than it would have cost to keep him. Liverpool could sign him up for 500,000 per week for five years, which would still be less than the 150m Tottenham want for Kane. This is even without taking into account the wages of the England captain and his age at 28. FSG may be shocked by these numbers, but Salah's track record and fitness, as well as his professionalism, suggests that he will still be a top-tier player in five years.
Ronaldo, who is approaching his 37th birthday in February, is still producing, and PSG's Messi (34), is also not far away from the end of his career. Salah is the Premier League's highest-paid player. This makes Liverpool football financially sound. Every time he steps on the pitch, he is proving that he is worth it.