Liverpool transfer news: Salah prefers Premier League move if he can not agree new deal

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Sadio Mane is keen to secure a move away from Liverpool – but team-mate and fellow attacker Mohamed Salah is going nowhere this summer, regardless of whether he signs a new contract.

The prolific Egypt international intends to snub any attempts to prise him out of Anfield during the upcoming transfer window. He’s fully committed to Jurgen Klopp’s side for 2022-23 and is adamant his head will not be turned by any of the other European heavyweights.

However, beyond next summer, Salah’s future is increasingly uncertain. Unless the 29-year-old receives a significantly improved contract offer from Liverpool, he will leave as a free agent at the end of next season. In that scenario, Salah’s preference would be to stay in the Premier League rather than head overseas.

This off-season is pivotal in the context of Salah’s career.

Liverpool’s owners insist they want to retain the services of the recently crowned Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, but the clock is ticking as he prepares to enter the final 12 months of a contract he signed in the summer of 2018.

The Athletic understands that Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon, rather than outgoing sporting director Michael Edwards or his successor Julian Ward, has been leading discussions with Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas.

However, there have been no face to face talks since December, when Dubai-based Abbas flew to Miami to meet Gordon. During those negotiations, it became clear that there was a vast disparity between what one party wanted and what the other was willing to offer. A revised set of demands were subsequently submitted via email but the stand-off rumbled on through the second half of the season.

The exact numbers involved remain unclear. Contracts at Liverpool are complex with a whole host of bonuses linked to individual and team performance. They also have a wage structure the owners are reluctant to break. Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Thiago are in the top bracket of earners.

Sources close to the player insist what Salah was offered effectively amounted to a 15 per cent pay rise on his current terms, which they felt under-valued his status in world football.

Having assessed what other elite performers across the European game are earning, they believe the wages he’s seeking at Liverpool would make him the sixth-best-paid footballer on the planet. Earlier this season, Salah himself insisted he wasn’t asking for “crazy stuff”.

Salah, who has scored 156 goals in 254 games since a £ 43.9 million move from Roma in the summer of 2017, turns 30 in a couple of weeks but has just equalized his second-best-ever return over a single season with 31 goals in all competitions as Liverpool won the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup before narrowly missing out on Premier League and Champions League glory. He’s also incredibly durable – averaging over 50 club appearances a season during his five years on Merseyside.

He shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Tottenham’s Son Heung-min on 23 goals and won the award for most top-flight assists after creating a further 13. He’s happy at Liverpool and settled living in Cheshire with wife Magi and daughters Makka and Kayan. But he wants a contract which he believes is representative of his importance and value to a team challenging for the biggest prizes in European football.

There has been speculation that the length of a possible extension is a stumbling block. However, The Athletic has learned that Salah would be willing to sign a new two-year deal if the terms were right. He’s not looking for the security of a four-year contract. He’s a professional model and is convinced he will continue to deliver at the highest level well into his mid-30s.

As Liverpool prepare to launch another attempt to thrash out a compromise with Salah and avoid the prospect of the issue rumbling on into next season, new sporting director Ward will be tasked with lining up a replacement for Mane.

The Senegal international, who like Salah is down to his final year, wants to pursue a new challenge after six years at Anfield. Bayern Munich are the front-runners but Liverpool are prepared to play hardball. They want around € 50 million (£ 42.5 million) rather than the fee of € 30 million (£ 25.5 million) which has been touted in Germany.

Liverpool brought forward their summer plans to buy striker Luis Diaz when they completed a £ 50 million move for the Colombia international in January. However, Mane’s likely exit – coupled with striker Divock Origi joining AC Milan as a free agent – means that area of ​​the squad will need to be further reinforced.

The club are also expecting plenty of interest in Takumi Minamino, who was their top scorer in both domestic cups last season but then did not feature in either Wembley final and found his opportunities in other competitions limited, starting just one Premier League game. Bought from Red Bull Salzburg for £ 7.25 million in January 2020, the Japan international is valued at around £ 17 million. Inter Milan and Leeds United have shown interest previously.

Senior Anfield figures held talks over a potential free-agent deal for Kylian Mbappe earlier this year but it soon became clear that they just could not make the numbers work financially. It became a straight shootout between staying at Paris Saint-Germain and joining Real Madrid after his contract expired. The France international opted for the former.

Where Liverpool turn now will be intriguing.

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They have previously shortlisted the likes of Lille’s Canada international Jonathan David and Jarrod Bowen of West Ham, who has just had his first senior England call-up. They need to be bold given that Manchester City have already strengthened the team that beat them to last season’s title with the signing of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.


Erling Haaland, left, is bound for Manchester City but Liverpool are interested in his Dortmund team-mate Jude Bellingham, right (Getty Images)

One new attacking option Klopp will have in 2022-23 is Fabio Carvalho. The talented teenager will officially join the club on July 1. Liverpool will pay Fulham £ 5 million, with a further £ 2.7 million to potentially follow in add-ons. The west London side also have a 20 per cent sell-on clause.

Liverpool view Carvalho as being capable of playing across the front line as well as in an advanced midfield role. They have no intention of loaning him out. Harvey Elliott, who played his youth football alongside Carvalho with Fulham, is convinced he will prove to be a major asset.

As well as Salah and Mane, Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also approaching the final year of their contracts.

Firmino is keen to stay, despite losing his status as a regular starter following the impacts of Diogo Jota and now Diaz. “I’m very happy here,” the 30-year-old Brazilian said. “I’m grateful to God that I’m here playing for a great club with great players, winning titles. And my will is to stay. ”

Liverpool are hoping to agree an extension with Keita, while Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future depends on whether he pushes for a move. The former Arsenal man did not play a minute’s football in the final two months of the season after falling out of favor. The club will listen to offers.

Klopp said before the Champions League final last weekend that every player knows exactly where they stand.

Vice-captain James Milner, who is a free agent this summer, is currently weighing up whether to remain at Anfield on a heavily incentivised one-year extension or pursue a move that will guarantee him more regular action. The 36-year-old is not short of options.

Liverpool will look to bolster their midfield.

Jude Bellingham is widely admired but there’s an acceptance that it might be tough to land the 18-year-old England international this summer given that Dortmund are already losing Haaland. It would take in excess of £ 80 million. Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni, 22, has been widely scouted but Liverpool believe he’s destined to join Real Madrid, with PSG also keen.

Loris Karius will certainly leave on a free as the goalkeeper attempts to revive his flagging career.

Nat Phillips, Neco Williams, Ben Davies, Ben Woodburn, Sheyi Ojo and Sepp van den Berg have just completed loan spells in the Championship or Scottish Premiership. Woodburn is out of contract this month, while it’s hard to see any of the others forcing their way into Klopp’s plans for next season.

The values ​​of both Phillips and Williams have been enhanced by their eye-catching contributions in helping Bournemouth and Fulham secure automatic promotion to the Premier League. Liverpool pocketed a £ 1.5 million loan fee for Phillips and a further £ 250,000 following Bournemouth’s return to the top flight.

Ward will demand around £ 15 million for the center-half, and a similar fee for Wales international right-back Williams. Liverpool are in no rush to sell and are prepared to wait until later in the window.

They are also looking to complete a £ 4 million deal for Aberdeen teenager Calvin Ramsey. The Scotland Under-21 full-back would effectively become Trent Alexander-Arnold’s understudy at right-back if he signs.

There is much to sort out before pre-season starts at Kirkby on Monday, July 4. Not least trying to bring the Salah saga to a successful conclusion and avoiding the unappetising prospect of losing him for nothing to a rival in 12 months.

(Top photo: Giuseppe Maffia / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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