Mohamed Salah has quietly handed over Liverpool's contract dilemma after fulfilling a £400,000 private pledge - Liverpool Echo

Mohamed Salah has quietly handed over Liverpool’s contract dilemma after fulfilling a £400,000 private pledge – Liverpool Echo

In recent weeks it has felt like Mohamed Salah has been breaking Liverpool records on a weekly basis.

This season alone, he has overtaken Michael Owen, Sir Kenny Dalglish and Robbie Fowler in the Reds’ all-time top goalscorer list, while his early winner against Brentford last weekend put him level with Steven Gerrard with 186 goals in fifth place . The strike against the Bees was his 30th goal of the season and also his 100th Anfield goal, while becoming the first Liverpool player to score in nine consecutive home games.

Just a few weeks earlier, against Leeds United, the Egyptian had overtaken Fowler to become the most left-footed goalscorer in Premier League history. Meanwhile, he has 13 goals from his last 16 starts to lead the Reds’ late rise to an unlikely top-four finish.

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With three games of the season remaining, the 30-year-old could be expected to overtake Liverpool’s charts before the end of the month, while also breaking the 20-goal mark in the Premier League once again. Of course, without missed penalties against AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal, he could already boast such records. Whether his efforts are enough to deliver top-four football, only time will tell.

In hindsight, it’s remarkable that given The Reds’ poor form for most of the season, it had only been a few months since Salah had a quiet campaign, as spectators questioned whether it was wise to include him among the best to make paid. player in the club’s history last summer.

For the record, he needs two goals from Liverpool’s last three games of the season to record the second-highest return of his career, following his superhuman efforts in the 2017/18 season when he announced his arrival at Anfield with a record. -breaking 44 goals.

Of course, his impact this year may have been overshadowed by that of Erling Haaland at Manchester City. The Norwegian joined from Borussia Dortmund in a £51.2 million deal last summer and scored a staggering 35 Premier League goals in his first campaign in England to break a pair of Salah records himself, while taking his aggregate tally to 51 goals. stands. end the campaign as a treble winner with Pep Guardiola’s side.

Jurgen Klopp was asked about Salah’s goalscoring returns at his most recent press conference, suggesting the Egyptian was in danger of being overlooked due to Haaland’s own record totals. After being confronted with such a series of questions in various ways over the past few weeks, the German delivered the perfect answer.

“No, not from us, not from the Liverpool supporters, maybe from you,” Klopp told reporters. “This question is not the first time I have heard it. Not from us.

“I’ve said it many times, he’ll be an all-time great when he finishes his career, but now he’s still in his career. If you see Mo every day, there are still many years left in his legs and body and the grades will improve. That’s absolutely great.

“No, we don’t overlook it, but when the question is asked, you are often guilty of overlooking it.”

In reality, Salah was in even better form at the start of last season as he scored an astonishing 15 goals from the first 12 games of the campaign, with an overall record of 23 goals from 26 games when it came time to head to Africa . Cup of Nations service in January 2022.

In reality, his international heroics derailed him. He would lose in the Africa Cup of Nations final on penalties to Senegal in early February after going through extra time four times in 12 days, before losing in Egypt’s shootout defeat to the same opponents in March after another a torturous 120 minutes as they missed qualifying for the World Cup.

With uncertainty over his Anfield future also hanging over his head and his old contract set to expire in the summer of 2023, it was understandable why his form couldn’t reach the same previous heights.

After returning from AFCON, he scored just eight times from 25 appearances for Liverpool, with only five coming from open play, as the Reds won a domestic cup double, but missed out on the Premier League title on the final day of the season before lost. to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

There was perhaps a suggestion that a hangover from such excursions continued into the current season, despite the fact that he fixed his future by extending his contract until 2025 last summer. A return of seven Premier League goals from his first 20 games of the season was certainly disappointing from a player of Salah’s talents, regardless of Haaland’s own extravagant performances.

But since winning the Merseyside derby against Everton in February, the Egyptian has not looked back. With 12 goals in his last 14 Premier League starts, he has risen in the charts with only Haaland, regular foe Harry Kane and Ivan Toney ahead of him. Not bad for a ‘decline’ enduring a ‘calm season’ for a side struggling.

As mentioned earlier, the striker’s next goal will be the second best goal of his career and will make him a total of 31 goals in each of the past three seasons. Meanwhile, it will also be his 20th Premier League goal of the season, and the only time he failed to hit such a milestone was curiously when he scored ‘only’ 19 in Liverpool’s title-winning 2019 campaign /20.

Of course it’s not just the goals that Salah scores. He also provides assists, having scored 11 goals for his teammates this season. With his total goal contributions therefore at 41 goals, he has only improved such a total in 2017/18 (58) and 2021/22 (46). A combined total of five goals and assists in the last three games of the season would be at least the same as last year.

Having come to life in 2023, it might be fair to suggest that the Egyptian really benefited from not taking part in a mid-season World Cup in Qatar. Of course, with the Africa Cup of Nations taking place again next January, that will create future headaches for Klopp.

He will be 31 in June and has a contract for at least two more years with The Reds. The goals and assists will keep flowing for Salah. But did we ever doubt that they would?

Don’t forget that we are in an era where Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still playing for AC Milan at the age of 41, and the likes of Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski flourishing at the highest level well into their 30s. Prior to recent moves to Saudi Arabia and South America, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez could claim the same.

When he signed his new contract with Liverpool last summer, club sources confirmed his initial wages were less than £400,000 a week. However, his deal was heavily incentivized, which would see him earn more than £400,000 a week if he continued to hit big numbers. In terms of structure, his deal was said to be “essentially based on reward for target contribution/engagement level.”

By signing such a deal, Salah propped himself up to keep repeating the level of his first five seasons at Anfield. While he may not have the silverware this season, the striker has certainly delivered on his side of the bargain.

While Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, his former forwards, have struggled at times this season for goals and fitness, Salah’s consistent goalscoring and availability are untouched. He is an ever-present in the Premier League and Champions League this year and, despite mandatory AFCON duty, has been out of fitness in just six of the Reds’ 282 league and European appearances during this period.

Nearly a year after becoming the highest-paid player in Liverpool’s history, Salah has delivered on his promise. He still scores goals, claims assists and is available to play when his side needs him. The decision of the Reds bosses to award him such a lucrative contract is justified.

Of course, no one expected a possible season of Europa League football to be part of the equation 12 months after the striker put pen to paper under such terms. But if he continues to follow in the footsteps of Messrs. Messi, Benzema and Lewandowski, and continue to deliver such returns well into his mid-thirties, then Champions League football, if not this month, will break through, and the silverware will be out soon enough quickly return to Anfield.

And of course, with two years left on his contract, it won’t be long before the cycle resumes in regards to his long-term future. Let the others gossip, Salah does all his talking on the field.

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