Sam McGuire: Why a NEW Liverpool deal for Mo Salah might be best for all concerned

There are a number of big decisions to be made this summer by Liverpool’s new power couple, Richard Hughes and Michael Edwards.

Who should the Reds target to bolster their squad? Which players need to be sacrificed to fund part of the new, post-Jurgen Klopp era? The duo also need to address multiple contract situations.

Then there’s the need to discuss Mohamed Salah.

The three-time Premier League Golden Boot winner has just 12 months left on his deal and after being aggressively pursued by the Saudi Pro League late last summer, the expectation was that he would move there this time around.

However, according to the likes of Paul Joyce and David Ornstein, Liverpool expect their No.11 to stay for at least another season and Salah has given no indication that he wants to depart Anfield this summer.

According to Anfield Watch sources, the player is hopeful of extending his contract with the Reds.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Mo Salah underperformed his xG by 0.33 against Manchester United on Sunday.

And this is what discussions between Edwards and Hughes will likely centre around. After all, clearing up Salah’s future should be a priority given his value, both on and off of the pitch.

Salah is currently the club’s highest-paid player, reportedly earning in excess of £300,000-per-week without taking bonuses into account.

Salah REMAINS Liverpool's most productive player

He’s the club’s highest scorer in the Premier League this term with 17 and he also leads the way for assists with nine. This sort of output is even more impressive when you consider that after the 4-2 win over Newcastle United on New Year’s Day, the 31-year-old didn’t start a game for Liverpool in the Premier League again until the final day of March.

During that period, he played 45 minutes against Brentford and 30 minutes against Manchester City.

So, having missed the best part of three months, he’s still Liverpool’s most productive player this season. And this is during a campaign in which some people have accused him of being on the wane.

Carragher and Neville SLAM Salah

Salah was singled out after the defeat in the Merseyside derby by both Gary Neville and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.

Neville was disappointed in the No.11’s showing, saying: "I was at the Merseyside derby, and I've done a lot of Liverpool games recently and Salah's not at his level. He's been an amazing player and is an amazing player, but he was massively off it in the Merseyside derby.

"I mean, he didn't touch the ball in the first half. What was noticeable, he's right in front of me up against Mykolenko, I can't remember him getting the ball. I think we showed that he had about five to six touches after 30-odd minutes.

"He wasn't in the game, they weren't getting him in the game. But Mo Salah usually gets in the game.

"In the second half when Ashley Young comes on and actually goes to the left back for Mykolenko, who picked up that knock, and you're thinking 'right, OK. Here we go. He'll fancy this, 1-0 down and Liverpool fighting to keep themselves in the title race. Local derby'.

"Mo Salah's just hit a brick wall. These players play so much football they play so consistently and Salah has been almost ever-present for like six or seven years. There just comes a point whereby you need a break."

Jamie Carragher, Sky Sports

While Carragher claimed that the forward is a "shadow of himself for a lot of this season" before discussing his future, saying: "There is a real discussion for the new manager about what the future holds for Mo Salah - it's the first time we've asked that question.”

We need to talk about Mo Salah

In some ways, it is a fair question to ask. Salah hasn’t been the same player since returning from his first real injury lay-off. For starters, in his last 10 appearances, he has two open-play goals and zero assists.

In truth though, the goals and assists earlier in the season papered over some performances. For example, per WyScout, there’s been a 17 percent drop in attacking actions per game this season when compared to the 2022/23 campaign.

He’s also involved in significantly fewer duels this season. During his peak seasons, he was averaging 14 duels per 90 with a 35% success rate. This season, he’s averaging eight with a 25% success rate.

Salah is also attempting fewer dribbles this season.

This drop-off isn’t exclusive to his performances over the past couple of weeks. It is a season-long thing. But as he was scoring goals, people were happy to look the other way.

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool vs Brighton

Sport Themen der Woche KW13 Sport Bilder des Tages Mo Salah of Liverpool celebrates scoring the winning goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield, Liverpool, England on 31 March 2024. Copyright: xStevenxHalliwellx PMI-6173-0002

The former Roma man still has a healthy non-penalty Expected Goals per 90 average of 0.53, almost identical to what he’s averaged throughout his Liverpool career with the exception of the 2022/23 and 2017/18 campaigns. And his Expected Assists average of 0.45 has never been higher. He’s still making things happen.

Edwards and Hughes have got a difficult decision to make

It is all of this combined that makes it such a difficult decision for Edwards and Hughes.

Salah is valuable.

He’s a genuine offensive threat and he remains to be a final third influencer even if other aspects of his game aren’t what they once were. However, he’s also Liverpool’s most valuable attacker from a financial point of view.

The Reds aren’t in a position to let an £80million (or more) rated player leave on a free in 12 months time.

Perhaps a new deal, on the same terms as now, is the best idea for all involved. It protects his value, ensures there’s not a huge Salah-sized void to fill during the same summer Klopp departs and gives the club an opportunity to assess the situation at the end of Arne Slot’s first season.

Things might look very different this time next summer.

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