The Reds star could soon be at the centre of a country vs club tussle over his participation in Tokyo, but his opinion ought to be all that counts
52, 52 and 35…that’s how many appearances Mohamed Salah has made for Liverpool in 2017/18, 2018/19 and so far this season, respectively.
When looked at closely, the wideman clocked 4119 and 4342 minutes of playing time in his first two campaigns and has already played 3023 minutes this term, adding up to 11484 minutes in total.
Considering his exploits in the last two summers, he’s probably due a rest, but the Egyptian Football Association have other ideas.
Salah participated in Egypt’s disappointing World Cup in the summer of 2018, as well as a failed attempt to win their eighth Africa Cup of Nations crown last year, and may be due a free summer after successive campaigns without one.
This isn’t a point of view shared by EFA president Amr El-Ganainy, who wants the nation’s talisman featuring at the men’s football tournament at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“We are working in the deal with Salah about his participation in Tokyo 2020,” El-Ganainy stated last week [via the Sun]. “He will be in Egypt for a few days for the international duty, and we will take a decision with him.
“I think we are close to announcing because all the parts want Salah to be with the Egyptian team.”
Jurgen Klopp, on the other hand, hopes the wideman is involved with the Reds in pre-season, but understands the importance of competing in the prestigious showpiece.
“Do I want to lose a player in the pre-season? No, of course not. But we have to consider different things. I will speak with Mo and all that stuff,” the Liverpool boss indicated recently. “We are completely clear about what we want, but we need more information – how will it look? when will the preparation start? all that stuff.
“Nobody has really contacted us so far, it’s just in the media.”
Klopp added: “We have had to play already without Mo but not too often, thank God, but from time to time we have to, but come on, it’s the Olympic Games, I’m still a sports person, the Olympics is the Olympics, but we have to see.
“We will have to see how we deal with it. We can’t really discuss it really because we don’t know anything about it, or not a lot about it.”
The aforementioned opinions could lead to a tug of war between both parties if not handled tactfully, but what really matters, in truth, is what the subject of this potential power struggle thinks and wants.
On the face of it, and through his various tribulations with the Egyptian FA, Salah has come across as a diplomatic guy who’d neither burn bridges nor rock the boat as far as his professional relationships go.
However, it’s been telling that he hasn’t said a word about his participation or otherwise to date.
Frankly, the former Chelsea man has been put in a difficult situation; being made to choose between his club and country, but maybe his health and fitness should come first.
While a refusal to feature in Tokyo may be seen as abandoning his nation by some, failure to rest means putting himself at the risk of an injury which could have far-reaching consequences.
Liverpool are still competing on all fronts this term and their top scorer could hit the 50-game mark yet again, for the third season on the trot.
After putting himself at risk by playing in Russia two years ago, perhaps Salah ought to put himself first this time. It probably won’t go down well in North Africa, while it may also rub some of his fans up the wrong way, but only one person matters in this scenario, and only he should decide to play in Tokyo or otherwise.