Mohamed Salah’s remarkable form could end up being “terrible news” for Liverpool, says John Aldridge, with Ballon d’Or talk likely to see Real Madrid’s interest stepped up.
As the transfer market exploded around them in the summer of 2017, the Reds invested just £36.9 million in a man who had previously flopped in England at Chelsea.
That deal has been made to look quite the bargain, with a 36-goal haul – including a Golden Boot-leading 28 efforts in the Premier League – seeing Salah set a remarkable standard at Anfield.
Comparisons have been made to Barcelona and Real Madrid icons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with it suggested that Salah could soon be challenging their duopoly of World Player of the Year prizes.
Aldridge, though, has warned that such a standing could see Liverpool’s ability to retain the services of top talent tested once again, with the former Reds striker telling the Irish Independent: “Mohamed Salah may well be a strong contender to win the Ballon d’Or for 2018 by the time we get to the end of this summer’s World Cup finals and that could be terrible news for Liverpool.
“Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the two best players in the world for a long time, but Salah is putting himself in their company with his performances this season and that reality has consequences.
“He has now scored more goals than any other player in the major European leagues, with his 28 goals putting him three ahead of the great Messi and inevitably sparking speculation over his future at Liverpool.
“As we have seen in recent years with Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, success on this scale has consequences and I suspect it won’t be long before we see Salah being linked with a move to Real Madrid again.
“Barcelona probably won’t be able to splash the cash again having spent so much to sign Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele in recent months, but Real Madrid like to sign the next big thing in world football every summer and at this moment in time, that man is Salah.
“If he takes Liverpool close to Champions League success and then shines in the World Cup with Egypt, his status will rise to potentially unmanageable levels from Liverpool’s perspective.”
While Liverpool will be eager to avoid seeing big-money questions asked of their resolve over the summer, Aldridge believes they should be looking to act now and reward Salah with an improved deal which prevents his head from being turned.
He added: “So what can Liverpool do to stave off what may now be the inevitable £150m-plus offers for their latest star man this summer? The only option is to sit down with Salah’s agent and pay him whatever the going rate is to stay at Liverpool for the next few years, with any pay rise that comes his way more than justified given his performances this season.
“As we saw with both Suarez and Coutinho, who signed new deals a few months before they left the club, a contract is barely worth the paper it is written on these days, but that is the only option open the Anfield board now.
“Losing Salah on the back of the deals for Suarez and Coutinho would be a hammer blow to the club’s reputation as while Liverpool are a massive name in world football, they don’t want to become a club that are little more than a stepping stone for the world’s best players before they move on to Real Madrid or Barcelona.
“All you can hope is that Salah has a different mentality to the players who left Anfield in years gone by, yet you wonder whether anyone in that Liverpool squad has big loyalty to a club that they have no emotional connection with.”