Liverpool should not be pressured into upping their contract offer for Mohamed Salah, according to David James, who thinks that the Reds will have replacements lined up for the Egyptian, and Sadio Mane, if they decide to leave.
Two superstar forwards remain very much part of the collective cause for now, heading into a Champions League final showdown with Real Madrid on Saturday, but serious questions are being asked of how long both will be sticking around at Anfield.
As things stand, they are only tied to terms through to the summer of 2023 and are yet to commit to extensions beyond that point, with former Reds goalkeeper James admitting that changes of scenery may become appealing to men that have won just about everything in England.
Will Mohamed Salah & Sadio Mane leave Liverpool?
When the stay or go question was put to James, the ex-Liverpool shot-stopper – speaking in association with Genting Casino – told GOAL: “As a Liverpool fan you want them to stay. You want your best players to stay and they have proved themselves as two of Liverpool’s best players.
“I would suggest that the Liverpool model and recruitment strategy is that they anticipate the players being there at the same time as anticipating them not being there. With the latter, they will anticipate the next acquisition – like [Luis] Diaz coming in during January. They will already have something in place, then you have to look at the individuals.
“I think the fact that Salah hasn’t signed the contract that has been offered, I don’t think he should or would get a better offer because Liverpool will have that as part of their model. Then it is down to the player.
“Of the two, I think Mane is more suitable to go, having achieved everything. He has won all the domestic trophies with Liverpool, he’s won the Africa Cup of Nations. His stock as an individual is – he could win the Champions League this weekend – I don’t think his stock can get any higher. You can’t begrudge any player for taking advantage of that.”
Are experiences now more important than trophies to Salah & Mane?
Having won Premier League and Champions League titles with Liverpool, along with Carabao Cup, FA Cup crowns and Golden Boot awards, there is little left for Salah and Mane to achieve on Merseyside.
With each potentially having one more move left in them at the ages of 29 and 30 respectively, James can appreciate that experiences may now be favoured over trophy challenges by a couple of proven performers that will remain in contention for more medals wherever they end up.
He added: “Liverpool fans are so good and so loyal and most of them would want them to stay at the club until they retire. But these guys have travelled from other clubs, they are not home-grown, and they have it in their DNA that they move on.
“There comes a point where they say ‘I’ve got one chance in my career, for however long I have got left, to make that move, whether it is Spain or Germany, and I want to experience that’. I went to Iceland, granted at the end of my career, but I did it because I had never played abroad. It wasn’t about playing in the best league, I wanted to be the foreigner in the changing room and experience what loads of foreign players have in England. My love for football grew because of that. I went to India and extended that growth.
“You are entitled to have those experiences, so you can’t begrudge Mane, Salah or any player wanting to and play somewhere else. Football is a world game.”
Will Liverpool have a plan for replacing Salah & Mane?
While the intention is to keep Salah and Mane in their current surroundings for as long as possible, there is a threat that they could move on at some stage in the near future.
Real Madrid’s inability to land Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe this summer may see them cast admiring glances back in the direction of Anfield, while Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are forever in the market for the best talent available.
James believes that whatever happens from this point, plans will have been drawn up by Klopp and Co that allow Liverpool to remain as competitive as ever, even if replacements have to be found for a couple of talismanic figures.
A man that spent seven years at Anfield between 1992 and 1999 said on recruitment: “There will be an ideal at Liverpool, and that might be that Mane and Salah stay. But what I love about Liverpool under the new ownership is that they understand how to run the business. You need owners to run football as a business, not just as a folly. Man City is the same, they know how to run the business. The business model says that this is what we desire, but if we don’t get everything then we’ll get this.
“If Real Madrid come and take Salah or Mane – or Bayern Munich or whoever – then Liverpool will already have in place who they need to replace them with.
“Concerns would be if you lost Alisson, who I think has been Liverpool’s best player this season. Who is the next goalkeeper who can do what Alisson is doing? Not that he’s going anywhere!
“There are other positions – Trent Alexander-Arnold, who do you replace these players with? Goalscorers you can find, you can give them the ball to score goals, and Liverpool have eight or nine players capable of doing that. Goalkeepers are at a premium, and you could argue that [Virgil] van Dijk is another one – centre-halves of that quality are at a premium. They signed them up last season pretty sharpish because they understood that they can’t go out there and spend £50m on replacements.”
More money for Mo?
Should Liverpool increase their contract offer to ensure Salah stays?