SHOULD I stay or should I go now? The lyrics from the classic hit song by The Clash may be playing out as an earworm in Mohamed Salah's mind these days.
'The clash' for the Egyptian sharpshooter being, whether his desire to get the kind of pay he feels his talent deserves puts his future at the club he loves in peril.
As is often the case when players go out on international duty, the Liverpool striker spoke a lot more freely about his contract negotiations with the club than he would normally do if he was back on Merseyside.
In a wide-ranging interview with' style title, the Liverpool frontman, on duty with his country in the African Cup of Nations, said, “They know what I want. I’m not asking for crazy stuff.”
Not 'crazy stuff' is debatable for the likes of us mere mortals. But Salah is at the top of the Liverpool pay scale on £200,000 a week, along with Virgil van Djik. But Salah feels his contribution to the club should be recognised at the £350-£400,000 mark. This would put him among the league's top earners, along with Ronaldo at Man United and Kevin de Bruyne at Man City. Which is a fair interpretation of his skill and talent. Indeed, of late, he could argue he has offered his employer a lot more than those aforementioned stars to their clubs.
Salah has scored 111 goals in 165 Premier League matches and leads the race for a third Golden Boot in five years with his 17 league strikes so far this season.
It's been a strong demonstration of his worth and he went on to explain his situation by saying, “The thing is when you ask for something and they show you they can give you something (they should) because they appreciate what you did for the club.
"But with the administration, they have (been) told the situation. It’s in their hands.” With 18 months left in his contract at Liverpool, Salah is keen to see that the club are eager to keep him at Anfield, but maybe, more importantly, appreciate what he's done for the club since he moved there from Roma.
The problem for FSG (Liverpool's owners), is that Salah's pay demands break their well known and well-regarded pay structure that dictates no one player is bigger than the club, and that egos and solidarity among a team is maintained by having relatively comparable pay. And definitely not giving a lump sum payout to a player who turns 30 just when his new contract starts.
Liverpool fans, of course, just want FSG to pay whatever Salah wants. Salah's magic on the field this season has been breathtaking and they love him for it. But the American sports group have shown resolve at Liverpool, but also at the Boston Red Sox, to doggedly maintain their pay scales.
Nevertheless, few Liverpool fans would forgive the current ownership should Salah depart. And FSG are not in the strongest position regarding their popularity after their embarrassing standdown over the European Super League scandal.
After Liverpool's limp 0-0 draw against 10-man Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday night, one might suspect that Salah's case for a new and improved contract is stronger and even more pending than maybe even Liverpool's owners might have previously believed.
In Liverpool and FSG's favour, it's clear Salah wants to stay and really his options, should he leave, are greatly reduced compared to what they would have been a few years ago. A move to another English club might be financially possible but it would ruin Salah's legacy. While the big spenders of Europe are greatly reduced now, with only PSG probably in the market to pay what the Egyptian wants.
Indeed, even if Salah did go, the recent record of big-money departures from Liverpool would not make for comforting reading for him. Philippe Coutinho, Gini Wijnaldum, and Emre Can, all made high-pay escapes to elite continental outfits from Liverpool, only to seemingly regret their move later.
Can bombed out at Juventus and returned to limited game time at Dortmund in his native Germany. Coutinho made huge headlines with his £147m move to Barcelona only to have a nightmare time at the Camp Nou. Now joining his former captain Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa on loan. Meanwhile, Wijnaldum's move to PSG has seen him take residence on the subs' bench and strong rumours he wants to get back to England, even if that only means a return to Newcastle.
So Salah wants to stay and Liverpool wants Salah to stay. It's a pickle of a conundrum. Whereby, both sides want the same thing, but both are justifiably determined, and even right, to maintain their diverging paths to the same place.