It’s a ruthless business… which is why there is no guarantee Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will get the money many people think they deserve to sign new Liverpool contracts
If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my career as a player and manager, it’s that there is no sentiment in football.
It’s a ruthless business… which is why there is no guarantee Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will get the money many people think they deserve to sign new Liverpool contracts.
As supporters, we all want them to sign, we all want the money found to keep them.
I’m a fan of both, and I would love to see them both stay.
But I know there needs to be a bit of realism in there too.
Liverpool have a business model, and they have been pretty strong over the years at sticking to it.
So Emre Can left on a free, Gini Wijnaldum left on a free.
And you can only assume it is because they were asking for things that didn’t fit into that business model.
Can the owners afford to give two players – or even three, if you include Roberto Firmino – exactly what they want and still keep their wage structure?
I’m not so sure.
If they could it would surely have happened by now. I can understand the position of both players, I really can. I won’t compare my situation during my time at Liverpool to theirs.
But I did feel undervalued by the club when I left to join Leeds and, to me, that was a situation where I was effectively forced out.
They will both probably be feeling the same right now, though for different reasons.
I didn’t feel wanted by the manager and his coaching staff, didn’t play enough for my liking and didn’t get the respect I felt my record deserved.
In a way, that’s the same with Salah and Mane.
The pair have been right at the summit of the world game now for some years, and Salah has even taken his form to a different level this season.
They will feel they deserve to be paid the same as other players at that level – and they’re right.
Mine wasn’t about money. I just didn’t play enough… didn’t feel wanted enough.
But there’s another similarity. Liverpool paid nothing for me, and in the first three years as a first-team player – when I scored 30 goals in each of those seasons – I was on peanuts.
In modern terms, the current board now have, in Salah and Mane, a Messi and Ronaldo on their hands. That’s barely an exaggeration. They are up there on that level.
Yet they didn’t pay Ronaldo-level transfer fees.
Mane went to Liverpool in the same summer of 2016, and for the same fee, that landed Michy Batshuayi for Chelsea.
In the summer of 2017, Salah cost £11m LESS than Everton paid out for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
So they got a Messi and Ronaldo for Batshuayi and Sigurdsson money – with a few million left over.
You could argue it is the coaching and management of Jurgen Klopp that turned them into world-class players, and I’d agree. I heard Jamie Carragher describe Salah as a club legend, and I’d agree with that too.
Action Images via Reuters)
I’m not comparing myself here at all, but I was also called a legend in my time.
And you know what, I’d have loved the chance to have gone on and cemented that.
Salah clearly thinks the same, but he’s already said he wants to “feel appreciated” by the club for what he has done.
Don’t forget, he did it without the level of wages players of his standard are getting.
And there’s the other side to the coin.
Who will pay him those wages if Liverpool don’t?
The market is not there at all, with the Spanish and Italian clubs struggling.
It leaves either PSG or clubs in England.
Kylian Mbappe and also Erling Haaland could be on the market in June too, so that reduces the options further. As I said, there is no sentiment, just hard economics.
Liverpool will have figures to stick at, just as they did with Wijnaldum and Can.
What I would say though, is how do they replace Salah or Mane?
AFP via Getty Images)
They have a couple of really promising young kids, but there are no guarantees, and even if they do come through, it won’t be this summer, when a decision will need to be made on the big contracts.
Mbappe would seem an ideal replacement, but his wages will be even higher on a free.
And it seems the only club who can afford him are PSG, so he may end up staying… which rules them out as an option for the Reds pair.
Liverpool will have to replace Salah and Mane one day. But they must get time to plan for that.
It means somehow finding a way to keep them beyond 2023.