With a smile on their face and a spring in their step, Liverpool fans got ready to bounce their way into the weekend.
And all it took was two simple words.
Anfield’s longest-running saga has its conclusion. After months of speculation, after the doubts and the concerns and the hopes and the goals and the cryptic tweets, the secret is finally out there.
“I feel great,” said the Egyptian after confirming his new £350,000 ($422,000) a-week Reds contract, poolside, on Friday. “It’s a happy day for everyone.”
He’s certainly got that right. This was the news everyone associated with Liverpool had been hoping for, and it will be celebrated accordingly.
There are plenty of winners in this story, that’s for sure.
First and foremost there is Salah, who gets the recognition and the reward he feels he deserves, given his magnificent, era-defining form with the club.
In five years on Merseyside, the 30-year-old has won every club trophy there is to win, scoring 156 goals in 254 games in the process. He is ninth on the Reds’ all-time goalscoring list, but will now have the likes of Michael Owen, Kenny Dalglish, Robbie Fowler and Steven Gerrard, as well as a place in the top five, in his sights. He’s already a Liverpool legend, no question, and now he has the contract to prove it.
For Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, news of Salah’s renewal will have been equally well-received. Having seen Sadio Mane depart for Bayern Munich last month, Klopp knows he will have at least one attacking superstar to count on in the coming years. He has clarity as to how his team will look going forward, and knows the standards that will continue to be set, each and every day on the training field.
“I have no doubt Mo’s best years are yet to come,” Klopp said. Liverpool’s attack is undergoing something of a transformation, but he will hope the likes of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and new signing Darwin Nunez can continue to benefit from Salah’s presence, goals and assists from the right flank. “He is adored by his teammates,” Klopp added, “and as coaches we know we work with someone special.”
Salah’s agent, too, will be celebrating, and rightly so. Ramy Abbas Issa has not always been the most popular figure with Reds fans, or indeed with plenty of people inside the club, but he has done his job, and then some. This is the biggest contract in Liverpool history, and one that took an awful lot of negotiating, on both sides of the table. Whatever you think of his social media game, Issa has delivered for his client, big time.
And what must Julian Ward, Liverpool’s new sporting director, be thinking today? Talk about a baptism of fire, and talk about getting off to a flyer in your new job.
Ward has certainly had his hands full this year. Salah’s renewal comes just a couple of months after Klopp’s new four-year deal was finalised, meaning the Reds have secured their two most significant figures on long-term contracts. They have already done the same, remember, with the likes of Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
Mane’s departure may have stung - the Senegal star will be missed, no question - but Ward has moved expertly to secure the exciting new signings such as Diaz, Nunez and Fabio Carvalho, all while replenishing the transfer kitty through smart sales (Takumi Minamino), value-protecting loan deals (Neco Williams/Nat Phillips) and sensibly-placed sell-on clauses (Taiwo Awoniyi).
Having taken over from the highly respected Michael Edwards, Ward knew he had to hit the ground running. He needed to get his early deals right, get the supporters onside and ensure that any talk of decline or disruption at Anfield was put to bed quickly.
He’s done exactly that. Having shadowed Edwards for a year as his deputy, he has moved into the big chair smoothly, ready to both continue and improve upon the work done previously.
Klopp’s new deal was huge, ensuring serenity and continuity throughout the club, and Salah’s renewal is equally significant. The ambition of Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners, is something which is often questioned by supporters, but that particular debate can surely be put to bed for a little while. They have done exactly what fans asked them to do; put their money where their mouth is and given their main men what they wanted. How’s that for ambition?
With Klopp on board, Salah signed up and a new, vibrant young team emerging, the future at Anfield looks as bright as the present. They may have missed out agonisingly on the quadruple last season, but the Reds aren't going to feel sorry for themselves. They'll be back chasing the big honours again this season, you can be sure of that.
And with their Egyptian King leading the charge, that can only spell danger for everyone else…