For several months, new contract talks with Mo Salah have rumbled on, with all parties behaving in a mature way. During this many Liverpool supporters have made the case for paying Salah “what he’s worth” (whatever that is), the player and the club remaining pretty quiet with only the occasional restrained rumbling from Salah’s agent, the Colombian raised Ramy Abbas Issa.
The fan base overall has been a mixture, from nervously backing Liverpool FC in negotiations to outright demanding that we just crack open the checkbook and pay him what he wants. This is based solely on being world-class and the fact we can’t make the Top Four without him.
Those positions took a major shift starting just over a week ago following a tweet quoting Jurgen Klopp and a response from Ramy Abbas. Klopp’s comments were not much different from previous ones on the subject and went thus:
“Mo definitely expects us to be ambitious. We are, so has Diaz signing helped? We cannot do much more but it’s a decision between Mo pretty much. The club did what they can. Nothing has happened further. We just have to wait for it, no rush. All fine.”Jurgen Klopp
Ramy Abbas (@RamyCol) responded with seven emojis, all the same, of a laughing face. Clearly, he communicated his opinion of Klopp’s comments, and maybe the adequacy of the Diaz signing as well. This total disrespect towards what had been an honest process, towards Klopp, and possibly towards Luis Diaz; completely backfired in just a couple of hours
Supporters Turning Point
Liverpool’s fan base turned the same day! A lot of people in the city have Catholic and Protestant roots, but it is Jurgen Klopp who the Red half of the city believes can walk across the Mersey, and Salah’s representative just insulted that man while mocking the club he works for.
Moving into damage control Abbas immediately began leaking information to the highly accurate Fabrizio Romano of the well-known “Here We Go” slogan and media. Romano though has his own Liverpool connections to verify what he’s hearing and published the following statement.
“Mo Salah’s currently not planning for La Liga move. He’s not desperate to leave this summer – his contract expires in June 2023 when he could leave on a free, Mo’s only focused on Liverpool as of today.”Fabrizio Romano
Which was followed by:
“Liverpool fans feel desperate and hope that something will happen. But we have to keep it open because maybe tomorrow morning or in two months Liverpool will offer him a new deal. As of today the expectation around Salah is not too optimistic, why? Because Liverpool do not want to destroy their wage structure, they always did a great job with their wages and had a great balance with salaries, so they don’t want to destroy this, and this is why the expectation around Salah will be difficult,”Fabrizio Romano
Romano then suggested that Salah expects to be paid “in line” with other top European players. Liverpool had kept all this quiet obviously but it appears they were prepared to confirm when leaked by Abbas, that indeed it was the substance of the status of the negotiations.
Changing of the guard?
The Abbas faux pas coupled with the leaked information has caused the situation to be seen in a different light, not so much Salah’s actions or words. Fans who two weeks ago were baying for LFC to meet whatever valuation Salah’s camp proposed, were now taking a much harder look. Additionally, a couple of other factors have emerged which has swung the P.R. battle in Liverpool’s favor.
The significant impact that Luis Diaz has had, coupled with the stellar play of Diogo Jota since his arrival a year and a half ago, has got Liverpool’s supporters thinking that maybe there is life after Salah. A lot of fans have been nervous for a while about the club’s front three (Salah-Firmino-Mane) all hitting the end of both their contracts and careers at about the same time. With 2 of those 3 spots seemingly sorted in the longer term, anxiety about departures has been significantly reduced, and there is more of a willingness to take a tougher negotiating stand.
For Salah to assert himself as one of the world’s best he’ll need to do it on the international stage. Being bested by his teammate at the AFCON tourney in February didn’t help his case! Now Salah’s Egypt faces Mane’s Senegal in a showdown 2-leg World Cup eliminator during the international break starting on Friday. The loser will be sitting at home during the World Cup and it will impact their ability to negotiate a better contract. Conversely, a starring role on the world stage puts you in a much stronger position to exaggerate your value.
In the end, this will come down to what Salah decides to do since Liverpool FC is very good at ignoring the weather and sticking to their evaluation. For now, the two sides have taken to battling it out through Romano’s reputable social media with Liverpool declaring through him that they are willing to make Salah “the best-paid player in the team but not with a crazy salary.” (But) “Mo is not accepting that”, says Romano, “because if you look at other clubs there are normal players on crazy salaries.”
Following the win over Nottingham Forest, with Liverpool still chasing silverware on three more fronts and playing almost twice a week from now until the end of May, expect this not to be resolved anytime soon. However, there is still plenty of hope for a summer resolution.