Mohamed Salah has tested positive for coronavirus but is not showing any symptoms, the Egyptian FA has announced.
Yet again, the international break has hammered the Reds – a long-term injury to Joe Gomez earlier in the week, now our top scorer contracting Covid-19.
The Reds staff and fans will be heartened somewhat to at least hear he is suffering no ill-effects which might make it a longer-lasting absence, but it still comes at a dreadful time for the team considering other players missing at the other end of the pitch.
Liverpool face Leicester City on Sunday, 22 November – nine days from now, which makes the No. 11 entirely unlikely to feature given the usual 10-day protocol.
At this stage he remains in quarantine within the national team set-up and he will face further tests “during the coming hours”, with the Egyptian national team set to face Togo in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers this week.
Xherdan Shaqiri falsely tested positive with Switzerland in the last international break, only to then return a second test which was negative and allow him to play.
UPDATE – Friday, 7:30pm: Egyptian journalist Eslam Magdy reported this evening that Salah’s second swab test has also come back as positive and as such he will be “self-isolated until he recovers”.
A short statement from the EFA said that he was the only player in the squad to return a positive test.
“The medical swab conducted for our national football team showed that our international player, Mohamed Salah, the star of Liverpool, was infected with the Coronavirus, after his test came back positive, although he does not suffer from any symptoms. The other members of the team were negative.”
Salah has been in red-hot form this season, scoring eight goals in eight games in the Premier League as well as a couple in Europe.
In the lead-up to the international break he was captured on video celebrating in his home nation at his brother’s wedding ceremony.
Football Star of Egypt and Liverpool Mo Salah celebrates the wedding of his brother, Nasr.#EgyptToday #Egypt @MoSalah #MoSalah #Liverpool @mosalah #Mohamedsalah @LFCTransferRoom @empireofthekop | #????_???? pic.twitter.com/GIMliRMDnq
— Egypt Today Magazine (@EgyptTodayMag) November 11, 2020
While there is no confirmation, it is entirely possible that this is the source of his positive test, given the restrictions currently applied in many parts of the world over crowded and closed-in social gatherings.
After Leicester, the Reds face Atalanta at Anfield in the Champions League, and Salah must be considered a doubt for these fixtures at least.
For Jurgen Klopp, he’ll now have to decide how to best prepare the attack in Salah’s absence, with Diogo Jota an obvious starter whether it’s a front three or a 4-4-2 similar to that seen against Man City.
Shaqiri might also hope to start, while Takumi Minamino might find himself briefly bumped up the order list too.