This season, Mohamed Salah has made a strong case for being, as of now, the best football player on the planet. Having turned 29 in June, his 23 goals and nine assists in 26 games so far in 2021-22 has the Egyptian international setting a pace that would eclipse his record-breaking debut season at Liverpool in 2017-18.
In recent months, though, questions have lingered over his future. The superstar attacker’s contract runs through 2023, and negotiations for a new deal haven’t yet resulted in a breakthrough. Salah, though, says he knows where he wants his future to lie—and that he believes his contract ask has been reasonable.
“I want to stay, but it’s not in my hands,” Salah told GQ when asked about his contract situation. “It’s in their hands. They know what I want. I’m not asking for crazy stuff. I’ve been here for my fifth year now. I know the club very well. I love the fans. The fans love me. The administration [know] the situation. It’s in their hands.”
Salah also noted some of the game’s top attackers, players Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema as well as current Ballon d’Or holder Lionel Messi, are 34 or close to it, suggesting that with the right approach to training and preparation a top attacker might not be fated to the same late career decline that once seemed inevitable.
There’s some truth to that idea, with many players and clubs focused on nutrition and fitness to a degree that would have seemed unusual even a decade ago and recovery and training regimens increasingly reliant on sports science in the name of both short-term performance and increasing a player’s peak years.
Still, while some players have shown they can extend their peak beyond what might have been the case in the past, a big-money deal stretching four or five years for a player going into his thirties remains something of a gamble. It’s a gamble, though, that based on the evidence of this season Liverpool might be smart to make.