Egypt under-23s manager Shawky Gharib insists Mohamed Salah had a “strong desire” to represent his country at the Olympics, but respects Liverpool’s decision to block it.
The Olympics are set to take place in Japan between July 23 and August 8, and with a clash of schedules allied with COVID-19 concerns, it would have been a big issue for the Reds.
If Salah had joined the Egypt squad and reached the final, for example, he would not have been able to take part in pre-season or, more importantly, featured in the Premier League opener at Norwich on August 14.
However, the player himself is claimed to have had a “strong desire” to play at the Olympics, as Gharib told Egyptian outlet MBC Masr.
“All negotiations with Liverpool and Galatasaray have not been successful, as the two clubs want the two players with them in the coming period,” he said, with KingFut relaying his quotes on Salah and Mostafa Mohamed.
“The Turkish club signed Mostafa Mohamed in order to participate in European competitions, so it’s their right to keep him. The same goes for Liverpool.
“Mohamed Salah had a strong desire to be with the Olympic team in Tokyo and also Mostafa Mohamed, but what happened was out of their control.”
Salah is a vital member of the Egypt squad, and a proud representative of his country on and off the pitch, but allowing him to participate in the Olympics could have been costly for his employers.
Liverpool are already set to lose their main goalscorer to the Africa Cup of Nations midway through the new campaign, with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita also bound for the tournament between January 9 and February 6.
While they could only miss three games due to the AFCON, the wider implications in terms of their fitness and travel could have more of an impact on the Reds.
As it stands, Salah appears to have accepted Liverpool’s decision with no suggestion of a conflict, and he will be part of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad on the first day of pre-season.
Klopp will welcome 27 players back to Kirkby on July 12, including all three of Salah, Konate and Minamino.