Egypt has made it very clear for the past few months that they fully intend to call up Mohamed Salah to compete for the Pharaohs at this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. However, because Liverpool are not obligated to release Salah for the U-23 Olympic tournament, his participation requires permission from LFC.
After many comments from the Egyptian Football Association, the Egypt U-23 coaching staff, and Salah himself expressing a desire for Egypt’s biggest star to participate in the Olympics in recent months, the EFA has now submitted an official request to Liverpool asking for their consent. According to Ahmed Megahed, head of the Temporary Committee in charge of the Egyptian FA, Liverpool now plan to discuss the topic with Salah before making a decision.
“Liverpool management replied to our message saying that they [will] discuss the situation with the player,” said Megahed.
“I am sure that Salah is eager to wear the pharaohs’ jersey while participating in the Olympics if he could,” he continued. “But it’s not his own decision to make as he needs to discuss it with the club’s management. I hope Liverpool accepts our request.”
The 28-year-old Salah, who also played in the 2012 Olympics for Egypt as a 20-year-old, would be one of Egypt’s three designated overage players at the U-23 tournament if Liverpool give the green light for his participation.
It will be interesting to see how the Reds respond to the request given the timing of the tournament in relation to the beginning of the 2021-22 Premier League season. The Olympic tourney will take place between July 22nd and August 7th, and the PL season kicks off on August 14th.
So, if Salah were to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics, he would miss the majority of Liverpool’s preseason at a minimum. COVID-19 adds another interesting dynamic as there is no way to know what, if any, travel restrictions or quarantine requirements will be in effect in August that could potentially prevent Salah from rejoining the club immediately upon his return to England.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, will be how Liverpool brass feels about risking one of their most important players at the Olympics when they are under no obligation to do so. Losing their most prolific goalscorer to an injury at the Olympics when they could have prevented him from playing at all would be a very unfortunate way to begin a campaign where they’ll be looking to rebound after a big regression this season.
Ultimately, it seems likely Liverpool will allow Salah to play in Tokyo, if for no other reason than to prevent straining the relationship with one of their star players. There are already rumblings that Salah may not be totally content at Liverpool, and preventing him from playing in these Olympics would likely create a very unpleasant rift between the club and the player. Assuming they do agree to let Salah play, it will be interesting to see what, if any, conditions Liverpool put on his participation.