Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah: Why Liverpool may look to sell this summer

It is going to be a busy summer for Liverpool.

Michael Edwards has returned to the club, this time taking up the role of chief executive of football.

He’s already brought in Richard Hughes as his sporting director and the pair are working together to find Jurgen Klopp’s successor, with the German tactician bringing his time to a premature end this summer after a successful spell at Anfield.

The Reds are also set to lose Thiago and Joel Matip on free transfers while there have been rumours recently linking Luis Diaz with PSG and Caoimhin Kelleher with a move elsewhere as he looks to cement himself as a long-term first-choice goalkeeper.

Hughes has to negotiate new deals for captain Virgil van Dijk and vice-captain Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the duo heading into the final 12 months of their contracts when the current season comes to an end.

Another player who finds himself in a similar situation is Mohamed Salah.

Should Salah stay or should he go?

Mo Salah graphic

The 31-year-old’s deal at Anfield comes to an end in 2025. And though some will have you believe it is a no-brainer to extend his stint on Merseyside, the decision is going to be a complicated one.

The three-time Golden Boot winner is still in with a chance of winning a fourth top goalscorer title despite missing a chunk of the season.

Injured while away with Egypt at the African Cup of Nations, Salah seemingly suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury having replaced Diogo Jota against Brentford. The club were vague though, so nobody truly knows what happened other than Salah was forced to miss a further four matches.

Salah stats still stack up

He’s comfortably the leading scorer for the Reds this season with 17 in the Premier League and 23 across all competitions. He’s hit 20+ goals in all seven campaigns with Liverpool.

Despite his limited playing time since the turn of the year, only three players have racked up more assists than the Liverpool No11.

He could still finish the 2023/24 season as the leading scorer and the player with the most assists, which would be some achievement, all things considered.

'No room for sentiment'

Michael Edwards will leave Liverpool
Former sporting director Michael Edwards has recently return to Liverpool

Why would the Reds even consider letting their most reliable forward leave?

Because numbers aren’t a predictor of what might happen in the future. Salah has been one of the best forwards in the world but there are no guarantees he will continue to be one of the best in the world over the coming years. That is what those in charge will assess before determining whether to give him a new contract.

Now that Edwards is back at the club, sentiment won’t come into these sorts of decisions. During his first stint here, he was prepared to let captain Jordan Henderson leave after ignoring his pleas for a contract extension. It wasn't until Klopp intervened that the one-time Sunderland man was given that new deal. That sort of thing simply will not happen now the German is moving on.

Edwards and those at that level will assess everything rather than simple goals and assists.

What sort of picture do his physical numbers paint? Once a hamstring injury occurs, how often are players picking up hamstring strains in the following years? Are injuries a formality now for Salah after playing so much football since moving to Merseyside?

If you look at the key players under Klopp, the ones with the most minutes, the majority have all suffered an abrupt downturn in form at some point: Henderson, Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and even Sadio Mane all just seemed to hit a wall without any real warning signs.

The club will need to weigh all of that up before deciding whether to make Salah one of the highest-paid players at the club. They can’t afford to get that wrong.

Less dynamic or just different?

Mo Salah graphic since March 7

If you delve a little deeper when looking at the numbers, there are a few things to note. These could be the warning signs. They could be something else entirely, but they cannot be ignored.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old is averaging fewer dribbles this season and his success rate has taken a hit. He isn’t as dynamic in those one-on-one situations and teams can limit his involvement. He’s still highly influential but his powers are waning in that regard.

Salah is taking more shots this season but his non-penalty expected goal numbers have remained similar. So, he’s having more efforts but he’s not more of a threat. This suggests the attempts are low value ones.

Is Father Time catching up to him or is this a byproduct of a new system being implemented by Liverpool?

Since returning to the starting XI, he’s been a shot vacuum.

He has taken 24 shots across four starts, scoring three goals and racking up an xG total of 3.26. However, exclude the penalty against Manchester United and his xG per shot average is just 0.12 and he’s underperforming his underlying numbers by 0.83.

During this period, Liverpool have lost 4-3 against Manchester United, drawn 2-2 with the Red Devils, narrowly claimed a 2-1 win over Brighton and beaten bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United 3-1.

Is he rusty after the injury lay-off or is it something else? Is it perhaps too early to know either way?

Salah interest in Saudi move?

Jurgen Klopp (left) and Mohamed Salah

And what does the player want?

If reports are to be believed, Salah wasn’t averse to moving to the Saudi Pro League last summer but, having given his word to Liverpool, he didn’t force the issue and instead allowed the club to make the final decision.

He likely wouldn’t have wanted to leave on a low with the Reds missing out on Champions League football. Salah has played his part in getting Liverpool back into the top four and he could well feel as though now is the right time, especially with Klopp departing.

There’s a world in which Liverpool lose their talisman and their manager in the same summer.

However, while the club may have been powerless to prevent Klopp’s departure, they will be heavily involved in deciding Salah’s future. It really might be a case of your head versus your heart with the No11.

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