Jack Hallows believes that the negativity around Mohamed Salah’s new contract due to previous player situations is heavily misplaced.
The ‘Twitter-verse’ is never going to be the most overwhelmingly positive social media platform on the internet. Hell, Liverpool could probably go out there and win the Premier League title and ‘FirminoFlair69’ whose bio reads ‘#FSGOUT’ would still find something to complain about.
So with that in mind, the somewhat mixed response to Salah’s contract renewal is not a surprise to me, however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t misplaced.
I can understand how the examples of Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho may, on the surface, be worrying for Liverpool fans.
Suarez back in 2013, signed a new deal that was supposed to keep him at the club for the immediate future. However, this deal featured the release clause that FC Barcelona eventually triggered after the 2014 World Cup to bring the Uruguayan to the La Liga.
Release clause aside, it’s widely accepted that the contract that Suarez signed was simply to protect his value and ensure that the club got the best deal possible for the striker.
While his 2013/14 season will always go down in history as one of the best individual campaigns of any footballer to represent Liverpool Football Club, it only happened because Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard convinced him not to go to Arsenal the summer before.
Why is that important?
They only convinced him to do so by telling him that if he stayed on Merseyside for a further year, had a good season and scored a bucket-load of goals, then a bigger and better club would come in with a bigger and better offer… which they did.
In the case of Philippe Coutinho it is, of course, a little different to the Suarez saga but in many ways is also very different to the situation that Mohamed Salah finds himself in.
It’s easy to forget that when Coutinho signed his five-year extension back in January 2017 he still had another level to his game to ascend into.
At that time, the Brazilian was Liverpool’s main man for sure – although you could definitely argue that Sadio Mané was making a pressing case for that title – but he was out injured, he’d scored and assisted five goals in the Reds Premier League campaign and most importantly, Barcelona still had Neymar.
Coutinho knuckled down for the rest of the season, returning to form towards the end of February and absolutely exploding to life for both Liverpool and his national side Brazil.
Come the Summer, there was the usual talk that Coutinho would leave for Spain but that’s all it was… talk. Alongside that, the Brazilian had no wish to leave Merseyside for any club other than Barcelona.
Offers supposedly did come in from other clubs – Paris Saint Germain being the most heavily linked of the European giants – but they were all rebuffed by both the club and the player.
It was only once PSG completed their ridiculous record-breaking – no, shattering – transfer of Neymar that Barcelona really started to sniff around Coutinho and the antics began. I truly believe that Coutinho loved this club. The only problem was that he loved the idea of Barcelona more.
With Salah, there is no life-long wish to leave the club for any other team.
I’m almost 100% certain that the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, perhaps even FC Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain despite the talents they all have hoarded away have all at least enquired about the possibility of signing the Egyptian.
He was one of the best players – if not the best player – in European football last season and has featured heavily alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in Balon d’Or discussions for much of the 2018 calendar year.
Of course other clubs are going to try to poach him and while he’d have likely commanded an extortionate fee, his 44 goals, 14 assists and numerous awards and broken records last season suggest that clubs would be happy to pay it.
While Suarez’s contract extension was to solely protect his value and Coutinho’s was outweighed by his love for Barcelona and wish to live in Spain, Salah’s is simply an affirmation that he sees this club going somewhere.
The former Roma man evidently believes that Jürgen Klopp is the perfect manager to continue nurturing his game and that his partnership with fellow attackers Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané is just as responsible for his record breaking maiden campaign on Merseyside as his own personal talent.
That’s a huge statement.
Salah clearly sees Liverpool going places and believes that while Klopp hasn’t yet won a trophy in his tenure, that slight on his record isn’t going to last long.
The club have obviously promised the Egyptian that the talent he will be playing alongside is only going to get better and the arrivals of Fabinho and Naby Keïta as well as the openly documented pursuit of Nabil Fekir certainly suggest this to be the case.
I understand the caution that fans take around contract extensions because when it comes down to it, they are just a piece of paper and the club could choose to sell at any time.
We’ve seen it with other players and yes, Suarez and Coutinho are the two highest profile examples in recent times.
However, Salah’s decision to pen this contract without demanding a release clause alongside the club’s decision to offer him the astronomical wages he is now commanding absolutely suggests that both parties are in this partnership for the long run.
Salah may well move on to another club in a couple of seasons time but for now, he’s a Liverpool player and he’s going nowhere. So let’s just enjoy watching him banging in goals across the 2018/19 season rather than wondering what the future holds.