Mohamed Salah has been in terrific form this season with the Liverpool forward already having scored 9 goals in as many games. Some fans and club legend Jamie Carragher have described him as the best player in the world on form right now and his performance against Manchester City on Sunday was yet another example of why he’s so highly rated in footballing circles.
However, Salah’s contract situation has been in the news recently with his current deal expiring in 2023. The club is anxious to tie down their mercurial winger to a long-term deal but the numbers involved have thrown a potential spanner in the works.
Salah, 29, joined Liverpool from Roma in 2017 and has since been one of the best players in England, scoring 123 goals in 212 games for the club and recently reaching the 100-goal mark in the Premier League with just 162 games played, making him the fifth-fastest player to do so.
He’s easily one of the best players in the world right now, however, his contract situation is anything but straightforward. Liverpool’s owner, John W. Henry of Fenway Sports Group, has been historically known to maintain a balanced wage budget for his teams, not letting one player earn so much that it disrupts finances.
Salah currently earns around £200,000 per week, which is second only to Virgil Van Dijk’s £220,000. These are modest numbers compared to what the likes of Manchester United, City, and Chelsea offer to their star players with Kevin De Bruyne earning around £380,000 per week and Cristiano Ronaldo certainly earning more, including bonuses.
Salah is only the tenth highest-paid player in the league and a player of his calibre might feel he deserves to earn closer to what his fellow superstars do.
Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas, put out a controversial tweet saying, “I hope they’re watching”, following Liverpool’s 3-0 opening day victory over Norwich, in which the winger scored. This was surely about John W. Henry and FSG who have seemed reluctant to offer Salah the monumental wages he and his agent might feel he deserves.
This situation has drawn parallels to the Mookie Betts saga from last year.
Boston Red Sox, which is also owned by FSG, was allowed to leave the baseball giants for LA Dodgers in a contractual dispute where they were reluctant to offer the player the wages he desired to stay under a competitive tax balance threshold they had breached previously.
Betts is a five-time All-Star and helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2018, the team’s first in 5 years. We can see a theme here, in that both Salah and Betts have been instrumental in helping their teams lift major honours in the recent past.
However, even if there are apparent similarities in both sagas, there are a few glaring differences. While Mo Salah has 2 years left on his deal, Betts only had one. The other difference, which seems more important, is the fact that Salah is keen to extend his contract at Anfield, which is contrasting to Betts’ desire of leaning towards a move away from Boston. This gives Liverpool an extra year to get the situation sorted, as opposed to Red Sox, who risked losing their star man for free.
Salah’s importance to Liverpool is monumental and to let him run down his contract would be a foolish move on their part, even if it means breaking their wage structure. A player of his quality is almost impossible to replace.
The likes of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe have been mentioned in this capacity but the numbers being thrown around could easily price Liverpool out of a potential deal for either of them. Another risk for Liverpool could be losing Salah to Manchester City. While there has been no news of Man City’s interest in the Egyptian, they are one of the few clubs who can afford him, given the current situation.
The Red Sox might’ve felt they got a good deal out of letting Betts go and bring in three players but they have not fared well since his departure, owing to multiple factors.
If the same happens in the case of Salah, Liverpool fans will not be pleased with the owners, to say the least. They cannot afford a repeat of the Mookie Betts saga when it comes to their mercurial Egyptian.
There is, however, some cause for optimism. FSG have recently renewed the contracts of their other star players in Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, and Fabinho, among others. They have the core of their team tied up on long-term deals and this could potentially be a sign of FSG’s willingness to offer Salah close to the kind of money he desires and keep the winger at Anfield for the foreseeable future.