Salah’s Liverpool contract: Barcelona interest, wages could reach closer to £400,000

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In the end, everyone was smiling.

As Mohamed Salah signed a new three-year contract worth around £350,000 a week, he was flanked by new sporting director Julian Ward and the club’s general counsel Jonathan Bamber, with the Egypt forward’s adviser Ramy Abbas Issa sitting opposite.

The setting last Friday was a luxurious villa on the idyllic Greek island of Mykonos where the Egypt international was enjoying a holiday before returning to Merseyside for the start of the pre-season.

It was a moment to cherish for all parties. Salah finally had the kind of financial package he felt recognized his status as one of the best players in world football. For Liverpool, the growing threat of losing their most prolific goal scorer for nothing next summer had been avoided with the 30-year-old’s services secured until 2025.

A protracted and at times acrimonious saga had reached a successful conclusion.


Salah signs his contract with Ramy Abbas Issa (opposite), Jonathan Bamber (left) and Julian Ward (right) while on holiday in Mykonos (Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

“It’s the best decision for us and the best decision for him. He belongs with us I think. This is his club now,” said Jurgen Klopp.

When the deal was officially announced at 4pm UK time, Salah was mobbed by jubilant friends as he sat relaxing in the plush Principote Beach Club.

Some two hours earlier, Abbas, whose cryptic social media posts had generated plenty of headlines throughout the process, had tweeted a rolling on the floor laughing emoji. Many had interpreted that as a mocking response to Liverpool’s latest contract offer and he received a torrent of abuse.

The Colombian lawyer chuckled as he saw the replies, knowing those same supporters would soon be celebrating.

When the club’s official Twitter account, which has more than 21 million followers, replied to him with a face palm emoji, it was part of the choreographed build-up to the impending announcement.

Relations hadn’t always been so cordial.

Abbas stayed in the same five-star hotel as Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry for the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris at the end of May. However, there were no discussions about Salah’s contract at Cheval Blanc, located close to the Pont Neuf across the River Seine.

In fact, there had been no face-to-face talks with the owners since Abbas flew out to Miami to meet Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon five months earlier. Those negotiations had ended in deadlock with a major difference between what Salah wanted and what Liverpool were willing to pay.

A revised set of demands were subsequently sent to Gordon, the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to the club’s finances, via email but the impasse continued through the second half of the season.

When quizzed about his future in January, Salah insisted he wasn’t asking for “crazy stuff”. Sources close to the Egyptian claim that he was looking for an extension that would make him the sixth-best paid player in the world and that what was on the table at that point effectively amounted to a 15 percent pay rise and would only have placed hymn 15 He felt that his status in world football was under-valued.

Before the Champions League final, Salah announced that he would be staying at Anfield regardless for the 2022-23 season. Liverpool’s choice was clear — either get his new contract sorted or accept losing him on a free transfer next summer. The clock was ticking.


Salah’s new three-year deal was announced on Friday (Photo: Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The stakes were raised further last month when it emerged that Salah was open to the idea of ​​staying in the Premier League if he was going to leave in 2023. He didn’t want to uproot his family with wife Magi, and their daughters Makka and Kayan, happy and settled in Cheshire. Some viewed that as a show of brinkmanship, but the prospect of losing Salah to a domestic rival was unpalatable.

The Athletic can reveal that Barcelona were one of several top European clubs who had asked Abbas to keep them updated on Salah’s situation. He could have signed a pre-contract agreement with an overseas club on January 1, 2023, but Barca’s hopes have been dashed.

Liverpool always intended to make an improved offer during the close season and it arrived in recent weeks after Salah had added the PFA Player of the Year award to his Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year accolade. A breakthrough was achieved with both sides willing to make compromises as they thrashed out a heavily incentivized deal.

With the framework in place, a club delegation led by Ward flew out to Mykonos last week to complete the formalities. It was a closely guarded secret with some staff who are usually in the loop when it comes to signings and contract announcements cut out of it on this occasion.

By then the landscape had become clearer for Liverpool. They had completed the £85 million signing of Darwin Nunez from Benfica and Sadio Mane was on his way to Bayern Munich for £35 million. The wage bill had been further trimmed by the departure of striker Divock Origi, who had been earning around £100,000 per week.

Nunez, Liverpool

Nunez joined Liverpool from Benfica (Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Senior Anfield figures insist they would also have tried to renew Mane’s contract this summer but unlike Salah, his heart was set on a new challenge. Keeping Salah was always the owners’ priority, just not at any price.

This has been a two-year saga. Abbas had initially sought to open talks over a new deal for Salah in the summer of 2020 but was frustrated. Due to the financial impact of the pandemic, Liverpool were in no rush. It would be another 12 months before discussions started.

Salah, who signed a contract worth around £200,000 per week plus bonuses in 2018, rarely speaks to the media so it was telling when he gave interviews to Spanish publications over the 2020-21 season. He described Barcelona and Real Madrid as “top clubs” and when asked about the prospect of playing in La Liga, he said: “Why not? No one knows what’s going to happen in the future.” Salah also revealed that he was “very disappointed” to be overlooked by Klopp for the captaincy in the club’s Champions League dead rubber against Midtjylland in December 2020.

There were no lingering issues as the manager explained to him that he should have actually given the armband to Divock Origi rather than Trent Alexander-Arnold as he meant to reward the long-serving player in a much-changed line-up.

Despite intense speculation, the former Chelsea forward never wanted to leave Liverpool. His preference was always to stay put. He has established a close friendship with Ian Rush during his time at the club and the Anfield legend had urged him to sign and preserve his legacy.

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Salah has scored 156 goals in 254 games for Liverpool (Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Salah knew the adoration he received from the club’s fans wouldn’t have been replicated elsewhere. He also appreciated how working with Klopp has taken his game to the next level and that he’s surrounded by world-class talent in a team capable of challenging for glory on all fronts.

But he felt a contract befitting his elite status was missing. When Virgil van Dijk, Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson all penned new deals last summer, Salah’s name was a notable absentee.

“I hope they’re watching,” was Abbas’ very public message to the Boston-based owners after Salah lit up the opening-weekend victory over Norwich City last August. They were, but FSG were reluctant to rip up the club’s wage structure. Concerns about committing vast sums of cash to players in their early 30s had led to Georginio Wijnaldum’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent.

“If you ask me, I would love to stay here until the last day of my football career, but I can’t say much about that — it’s not in my hands. It depends on what the club wants, not me,” Salah said last October.

Two months later, when he said, “the decision is in the hands of the management and they have to solve this issue”, he meant the owners. Relations with Klopp, outgoing sporting director Michael Edwards and his successor Ward always remained strong. He accepted that this was above their heads.


Salah has a good relationship with manager Jurgen Klopp (Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

“It’s Mo’s decision. The club did what it could do. Nothing happened further, no signing, no rejection. We just have to wait,” Klopp told reporters at Kirkby in March.

Klopp instantly regretted his choice of words and when Abbas, who felt the ball was firmly in Liverpool’s court, responded with seven crying laughing emojis on Twitter, more unwanted headlines were generated.

The talking that really mattered happened on the field. Salah equaled 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 shared the Premier League golden boot with Tottenham’s Son Heung-min (23 goals each) and won the award for most top-flight assists (13). Last season also saw him climb to ninth in the club’s all-time list of scorers on 156 and he’s only two behind Michael Owen and 16 adrift of Sir Kenny Dalglish.

His output dropped off in the closing months of 2021-22 after the heartache of losing the final of the Africa Cup of Nations and then the World Cup play-off to Mane’s Senegal but that was understandable as fatigue kicked in. Klopp and his staff believe he will have benefited massively from an extended break this summer.

Durability is another one of Salah’s great qualities. He averaged more than 50 appearances a season during his five years at Liverpool. With the way he looks after his body, he’s convinced he will continue to thrive at the highest level into his mid-30s and Klopp agrees.


Salah has averaged more than 50 appearances a season during his five years at Liverpool (Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“I have no doubt Mo’s best years are still to come. And that’s saying something because the first five seasons here have been the stuff of legend,” he said. “Fitness-wise, he’s a machine — in the most incredible shape. He works hard on it and he gets his rewards. His ability and skill level get higher each season, and his decision-making has also gone to another level.”

Klopp and his staff were also impressed by the player’s application and attitude throughout the saga, particularly how he has taken younger players such as Harvey Elliott under his wing over the past year and continuously helped to set the standard in training every day.

Paying him £350,000 per week for the next three years up to his 33rd birthday represents an outlay of nearly £55 million. It’s a big commitment but small fry financially compared to the cost of trying to adequately replace him.

There’s certainly no sense of envy among the other senior players in the dressing room. Their attitude is that he deserves every penny.

Salah was eager to commit to a host of performance-related bonuses linked to lofty goals and assist goals — a clear sign of his confidence. If they are triggered he could earn closer to £400,000 per week.

For Klopp, who ended speculation about his own future by signing a new contract in April, it’s the perfect boost ahead of the new season.


(Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The sideshow is over. Now there is certainty. A happy ending to an eventful saga.

(Additional reporting: Simon Hughes)

(Photos: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)

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