Mohamed Salah‘s future is subject to much talk, even from the forward himself – but more in terms of what’s left to improve upon and most importantly, what more to win.
The Liverpool No11 has been in scintillating form in 2021/22, scoring reliably and relentlessly whether it’s penalties, tap-ins or Puskas award contenders. And ahead of the trip to Man United he spoke with Sky Sports over the rivalry with the Red Devils, his form and how he thinks the Reds can challenge this term.
Of course, the big talking point from the interview was on his future – which was, typically, the smallest segment of all. But it left supporters in no doubt that if Mo gets his way, we’ll get our way of seeing him bang in the goals for years to come, saying he’d “love to stay until the last day of my football [career] and that he “can’t see myself ever playing against Liverpool” – but reiterated it’s not just down to him.
Mo’s “emotional” connection with the club was forged across an Anfield experience as a professional and as a youngster controlling the Reds on FIFA – and he has no desire to stop that link with the club now.
Perhaps equally important was his later assertion that he feels he can play until he’s “38 or 39 – until my kids say hey, come and play with us!”, suggesting he’s far from thinking that his next contract renewal will be his last.
And there’s reason for that, as he points out: It’s not just he who can play at the highest level straight through to mid-30s, but many of the world’s great forwards challenging for the biggest individual honours.
“I don’t think [downhill at age 30] exists anymore,” he said. “Top players like Messi, Ronaldo, most of them won the Ballon d’Or after 30. Ronaldo won it three or four times, Messi two or three times, Lewandowski could win it last season but something happened and he didn’t win it, Benzema in top form as well after 30, Suarez the same…football is changed a lot at the moment. Most of the players after 32, 33 they are in top shape, top performances…football has changed a lot.
“Hopefully [my first Ballon d’Or] is this season!”
He must be in with a fair shout, given some of his displays and goals so far.
Mo picked out his goal against Man City as his top strike so far, just over Watford, due to the context of it being against a “tough team, one of the best defenders in the world [and] it was 1-1”, while also explaining that strike was a consequence of his extra training work which has included a significant improvement on finishing with his right foot.
As an interesting aside, he also explained that his additional work was split to gym work before training, then training itself, then extra football work afterwards.
That approach is all part of his long upward journey from a youngster with ambitions of making it big, to now being an elite player still honing his aspirations of exactly what he wants to win.
“It’s a progress. When I started in Egypt I said I wanted to play in Europe, have the best career of an Egyptian player. But once I was at Basel, I said ‘no, I want to do something really special’. It’s always in my head like: ‘you are here now, what do you want next? What do you want next?’. I’m always trying to find something to drive me hard and achieve what I want.
“I’m just trying my best to help the team win games and trophies. I like to win things, I love the club and I hate the word ‘underdog’ or that we can’t win something because of that. I always saying to myself we have to win something because we play for Liverpool.
“If you play for Liverpool you cannot see yourself as an underdog, you just see yourself as a champion all the time to win things. Hopefully we all believe that.”
Salah explained the difficulty of last year in that regard, when the Reds were in no position to challenge due to multiple factors – the biggest of two which he cited were the injuries and the absence of the “push from Anfield” due to no fans in grounds, especially the “unbelievable” Anfield nights.
This year, there are no such excuses, and silverware on all fronts is the target.
The Reds have certainly started in fantastic form in that regard with a strong unbeaten run, to which Salah’s performances and goals have been utterly crucial.
More of the same at Old Trafford would be welcomed!