By Carl Markham, PA
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah refused to be drawn on his protracted contract negotiations but insisted he will not be heading out of the club this summer.
With just over 12 months remaining on his contract, speculation will undoubtedly increase about the Egypt international’s future.
Saturday’s Champions League final opponents Real Madrid have missed out on signing Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe in recent weeks and Salah’s form over his five years at Anfield would make him a prime target for the LaLiga side as an alternative.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 25, 2022
But, while there still remains plenty of work to do for Liverpool to get a new deal for the 29-year-old over the line, they have some time as he has committed himself for another season at least.
“I am staying next season for sure, I am staying next season,” said the Egyptian.
“I don’t focus on the contract. I don’t want to be selfish. I said that two months ago – it is about the team now.
“I am just focused with the team. I want the Champions League again. I want to see Hendo (captain Jordan Henderson) with the trophy again and hopefully he will give it to me after.”
Salah has mixed memories from his two Champions League final experiences, having been forced off with injury in his first in 2018 – coincidentally against Real Madrid – after a clash with Sergio Ramos damaged his shoulder and then winning a year later against Tottenham in Madrid.
The forward admitted his experience in Kiev, when his dreams were shattered by injury, remains a difficult memory.
He has already spoken of a revenge mission against the Spanish club, with 2018 still in his mind.
“I remember when I went off, it was the worst moment in my career. I was really down at that time,” he added.
“We had a good season and came to Champions League final and then I went off.
“It was the worst thing to happen for a player. I knew the result from hospital. We couldn’t lose that way.
“I’m very motivated after what happened with Madrid last time. And, after what happened on Sunday (missing out on the Premier League by a single point), everyone is motivated to win the Champions League. Everybody is excited for it.”
While Salah’s deal will be top of the agenda once the final is over, he is not the only one whose contract expires in 2023.
Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who make up Jurgen Klopp’s original famed forward line, in addition to midfielder Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also have deals entering their final 12 months.
Salah, Mane and Firmino will all be over 30 by the time next season starts and the rejuvenation of Liverpool’s attacking options has already begun with the arrival of Diogo Jota in September 2020 and Luis Diaz in January.
However, manager Klopp said the outcome of final would not have any bearing on contract negotiations.
“No, not at all. What, if we win it they want to go? We are in talks with all the players, it is just not the moment to talk about the results of these talks, none of them are sitting there not knowing what we are planning,” he said.
“No, that would mean we would have to have negative talks, no.
“There is just not the time, we play every three days. The players have this idea, we have this idea, sometimes they match immediately, sometimes not and then we work together.
“We have known each other for ages.”