As it stands, Mohamed Salah will be able to leave Liverpool on a free transfer in just 15 months. In a little over eight months, he will be free to sign a pre-contract with another club.
This is not alarmist rumour-mongering; these are simple facts of the current situation that Liverpool find themselves in with their star player.
Salah turns 30 in June, at which point he may just have 12 months left on his current contract – which currently pays him little more than £200,000-a-week at present, which even for the 'non-Salah believers' is some way short of his market value.
So, what's holding things up? Why has Salah not yet signed a new contract?
Well, firstly, yes - there is a problem. There's no getting away from it. Jurgen Klopp can suggest he is not involved, or that he is happy with what he is hearing until the cows come home, but this is where the situation is currently at, and it is not good.
Talks have been ongoing with the Egyptian superstar since early last year, but as it stands a new deal is not on the horizon, despite rumours to the contrary over the last fortnight.
I have spoken and written about Salah and his future for years now (whilst at Basel, Chelsea, Fiorentina, Roma and now Liverpool), and I would like to put forward one argument I was informed of. Well, not so much an argument, but one possible version of events that should be considered.
Mo Salah on Sunday:
"It's the biggest game of the season. It's the kind of game I love to play - every player would love to play this game. You get excited, motivated - let's go for it." #awlive [@footballdaily]pic.twitter.com/mizrDq2BAi
Salah is extremely happy on Merseyside - and why shouldn’t he be? He is one of Liverpool's top scorers in Premier League history and is undoubtedly a club legend, having won nearly everything there is to offer. Indeed, the only major medal to allude him thus far is the FA Cup, which he could very well collect this season.
But I am reliably informed that one of Salah's key ambitions is to be regarded as the greatest African player of all time. As to who that currently is, well that is debatable, but many would probably opt for the great George Weah.
What would Salah need to do to surpass someone like Weah, or maybe even Didier Drogba? I am informed that he believes playing in Spain for either Barcelona or Real Madrid would tick that box and crown him as the greatest ever.
And, if Salah was to move, where, in seriousness, could and would he go? The answer is Spain, and from that, only two clubs can afford him, and that is Real and Barca.
As it stands, a move from either of those clubs this year is unlikely, given Salah’s potential asking price – which would surely be approaching the £100m mark. But why wouldn’t they wait 12 months and get him for nothing?
That brings us back to Salah’s talks with Liverpool. Yes, they are ongoing, but we need to assess and look at the issues that are currently hampering any potential deal.
Mo Salah on his contract:
"I talk to the manager, I know my job very well. I am almost the first one here and the last one to leave. I know what I am doing. I am just focusing on the team. That is the most important thing - to win trophies for this club." #awlive [sky] pic.twitter.com/knd9jZCjHf
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) April 8, 2022
It is hard in any situation to argue that someone - in this case Salah - might be being too greedy, or in-turn Fenway Sports Group being too tight or stingy and unwilling to release their purse strings.
Salah is currently earning not much over £200,000 a week, and is behind leading earner Virgil van Dijk, who brings in around £250,000 a week (which in itself is mind-blowing – he could and should be asking for double himself, but fair play to Liverpool for building the squad on such a disciplined wage structure).
But to that point, what is the minimum you could conceivably offer to Salah which would make him inclined to stay? FSG are willing to make Salah the highest-paid player at the club, and I am told the current offer – not including add-ons, performance pay etc - is just shy of £400,000 a week.
However, Salah is believed to want in excess of £400,000 – and who in their right mind can say he isn’t worth it given what he's achieved at the club? But from FSG’s perspective, they would be handing that sort of deal to a 30-year-old, who at this point would likely have no sell-on value.
This goal will 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 get old 😍pic.twitter.com/P9IVVBAQKQ
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) April 8, 2022
FSG, it must be remembered, are also in talks with Sadio Mane, who is also out of contract in 2023, and I understand talks with the Senegalese superstar are also not close to completion either.
Additionally, FSG have seen the January signing of Luis Diaz pay dividends extremely quickly, and that will make them think.
Let’s look back to 2020, when Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino were in full flow. It would have been almost unthinkable to feasibly replace their quality. Now, fast forward to 2022 – would Diogo Jota and Diaz feature in Liverpool’s starting three? Quite possibly. Then throw in someone like Ajax's Antony, who has been linked with a move to Anfield, and could the makeover be complete?
If FSG believe that the makeover would be complete with one additional signing, why hand the biggest contracts in the club’s history to Salah and Mane? That is very much something FSG are contemplating - and it makes sense both on and off the pitch.
Klopp wants both Salah and Mane to stay - there's no doubting that - but could the Reds boss be tempted by going again with a new front-three and completing the rebuild before the end of his contract in 2024? It's possible.