As just one competition in the endless carousel of annual summer tournaments, the Olympic soccer event is one that often sneaks up on fans by surprise, especially for supporters of European clubs. For many nations around the world however, the prospect of winning the gold in soccer ranks just as highly as some of the other prestigious honors in the sport.
This in part explains why the Egyptian national team is insisting that talisman Mohamed Salah, one of the most highly-utilized players in club football, represents his country at the upcoming summer games.
“I have made it known publicly that I would like to have him with us during our Olympic campaign and he did not refuse, which means he also wants to play with us,” Egyptian manager Shawky Gharib said in recent remarks to L’Equipe.
“Salah’s participation in the Olympics is supported by the state, represented by the Ministry of Sports and the Egyptian Football Federation, in our joint effort to bring home an Olympic football medal for the first time.”
It is worth noting that Gharib is in fact manager of the Egyptian U-23 team, the age limit for all players participating in the tournament. While essentially an amateur tournament, each nation is allowed to include three players over the age of 23 in their squad.
The Games will take place between July 23 and August 8 in Tokyo. This would mean that even with the start of the 2021-22 Premier League season pushed back until August 14, Salah will still miss the entirety of the Liverpool preseason while clocking up his match count at breakneck pace dating back to the end of the first lockdown in last year’s Project Restart.
Gharib has previously suggested he would discuss Salah’s inclusion with his club.
“There should be an agreement between all parties,” he said.
Which most likely means that Liverpool supporters will be cringing their way through every sprint and tackle involving Salah and every other Red at the Olympics. At least there is the highlight of seeing a Team Great Britain super team up with players like Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Neco Williams play together on the same team…oh wait.