Egypt under-23 boss Shawky Gharib has confirmed Mohamed Salah is set to represent his country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, ruling out a pre-season with Liverpool.
Egypt qualified for the tournament after reaching the 2019 U23 Africa Cup of Nations final in 2019, and as they are able to call upon three over-age players, Salah is the notable pick of the bunch.
The men’s tournament is scheduled to run from July 24 to August 9, ensuring Liverpool’s current leading goalscorer would miss the Reds’ pre-season and the start of the 2020/21 Premier League campaign – which is set to kick off on August 9.
And while Gharib remains undecided on the other two players over the age of 23, Salah is the one Egypt are “settled on” as he is “one of the top three players in the world.”
While few would disagree with his standings in world football, the sticking point is that Gharib has yet to talk to Salah and agree to such plans with Liverpool’s No. 11 – to which Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas Issa, confirmed on Twitter having stated: “No decision has been made yet.”
“Out of the three senior players we’ll call-up, Salah is the only one we’re settled on so far because he’s simply one of the top three players in the world,” Gharib explained.
“I haven’t talked to Salah at all about him joining the U23 squad for the Olympics, but in all honesty, his participation in the Olympics will need a little effort from him as well.”
In January, Klopp told reporters: “[While] the Olympics is a wonderful thing…it would not be too cool.
“I wish we could have whole squad together for pre-season but that is not possible for different reasons.”
With the Africa Cup of Nations moving back to the winter months for 2021, the inclusion of Salah in both tournaments would see him miss a considerable chunk of the Reds’ campaign both domestically and in Europe.
Coupled with the European Championships and Copa America, Liverpool will be without a number of their key players when preparations for 2020/21 start.
The final confirmation on Gharib’s squad for the Olympics is expected in June.