Following previous reports claiming Egypt were determined to have Mohamed Salah in their squad for the delayed Summer Olympics and that the player himself was determined to go, the assumption had been that the star forward would be heading to Japan this summer.
However, that appears now to be unlikely following news that the club have rejected the request from Egypt’s federation to release the player, citing the amount of football played over the past few seasons and Salah’s commitment for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
“We contacted Liverpool to allow Salah to join the Olympic team,” Egyptian FA president Ahmed Megahed told OnTime Sports. “In the end, Liverpool refused the request because they do not want to lose the player at the beginning of the season as well as next January.”
Megahed added that talks remain ongoing and Salah eventually being given permission to join up with the Olympic squad isn’t impossible—though it is difficult. He also claimed that Salah and his agent will make further attempts to convince Liverpool to release him.
If Salah is in fact eager to represent Egypt at the Olympics it may be difficult for the club to continue to reject his requests without potential fallout. However, if the player believes he needs a break this summer, having the club block his participation would be an easy out.
For professional footballers, the Olympics is very much an afterthought of a tournament, in part due to participation being limited for established, overage players. It’s also one of the few events that isn’t organized and held by FIFA or one of the continental federations.
That makes it one of the few times clubs have any real ability to block participation. After the past few years, Mohamed Salah could probably use a break. Hopefully, no matter the statements of his FA, this is a case where Liverpool and Salah are on the same page.