Liverpool should cash in on Salah if he wants to go – it worked with Coutinho

Whatever we believe about loyalty and ­contracts in football, the harsh reality is that it is not about what ­players think – it’s about what players want.

I’d love a situation where ­contracts mean something, where players’ loyalty is rewarded by loyalty back from the clubs and vice versa, but it just isn’t. Full stop. To quote Ramy Abbas Issa.

Mo Salah’s agent knew what he was doing when he tweeted that full stop after the game on Thursday. I saw it and straight away I thought, “Here comes trouble”.

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He can dress it up however he wants now, but, as the agent of a high-­profile player, you know that anything you say is scrutinised forensically and ­anything cryptic like that can be interpreted in sinister ways.

I’ve not got a clue what he meant, but it was clearly pointed.

Salah was furious about being taken off against Chelsea

And you know what, if the player is agitating for a move, let him go.

I’m not having a go at Salah. I love him to bits. But I truly believe that transfers now are largely about what players want, so the ball is in his court, not Liverpool’s.

If he wants to go, then he should go. If a player wants to leave, we have to accept it’s in the mix.

I’m a firm believer that if they are unhappy and want to be going, then they should be going. Jurgen Klopp has said the same, too – he doesn’t want anyone at the club who doesn’t want to be there.

It is my belief that was his attitude with Philippe Coutinho. He agitated for a move.

Coutinho pushed for a move to Barcelona and secured it in January 2018
Coutinho pushed for a move to Barcelona and secured it in January 2018

Liverpool turned it down in the summer because it didn’t suit them financially and in terms of bringing players in.

But they did the deal in January, and used the money to buy Virgil van Dijk and Alisson.

Klopp didn’t want Coutinho because he thought his attitude wasn’t right, and he didn’t want that poison in his camp in the end.

So if Salah is truly ­unhappy, if he is upset he hasn’t been given a new contract or whatever, then cash in, get as much as you can for him and use the money to make tweaks with the current team.

I’m a fan of Salah, obviously, who wouldn’t be? But Liverpool didn’t miss Coutinho that much, did they?

The Reds invested the fee they received for Coutinho by signing Van Dijk and Alisson
The Reds invested the fee they received for Coutinho by signing Van Dijk and Alisson

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And it turned out that he wasn’t quite so good as people thought anyway – the system he was playing in made him look better.

Perhaps that’s the same with Salah. You’d miss his goals, but is it possible to find someone better – not necessarily as a direct ­replacement, but in strengthening the team as a whole?

I think Liverpool do need a few tweaks now. Their problems have slipped over from a slight dip in ­confidence to a major crisis of ­confidence. You could see it all over the pitch against Chelsea.

It does happen. I always believed in myself, but I had a couple of ­periods where my confidence went and I started to question myself, wonder if I’d lost it. I had one like that at City – it was demoralising.

You think you’re finished. I’ve seen it in Salah – he was bossed by Antonio Rudiger on Thursday, and looked far too easy to push off the ball.

Liverpool's forwards are out of sorts and short of confidence
Liverpool’s forwards are out of sorts and short of confidence

Sadio Mane looks to be lacking confidence too, though I’d actually argue that he was the best of the front three in terms of ­keeping going and keeping trying things – so Klopp was right in leaving him on.

Roberto Firmino has struggled for a long time. He does the odd thing which still looks great, but you see him give the ball away far too much. And that happens in other areas, too.

It’s not a time to panic, though, and rip the team up. I think you have to accept there is a real danger now of Liverpool not making the top four – we’re getting to the point where if the gap grows any larger, it will be impossible to make up.

They are eight points behind Manchester United and that means they have to win three more matches than a team who don’t lose many games. It’s a huge ask.

But even if Liverpool don’t finish in the top four, it’s not entirely disastrous. Yes, financially it’s ­massive, clubs need that European money more than ever, with losses sustained during the pandemic.

The Reds need to rediscover their form quickly to finish in the top four
The Reds need to rediscover their form quickly to finish in the top four

Should Liverpool consider parting ways with Salah this summer? Have your say in the comments.

But they can come back. Get Van Dijk back in the team, get a couple of replacements (and they can be decent IF Salah does leave), get the mentality back Klopp instilled so well and I honestly believe you’ll see the real Liverpool return.

In the meantime, I have some ­simple advice for Liverpool’s players.

Go back to basics. I know that sounds simplistic, I know people will say it can’t be that easy. But, honestly, sometimes that’s what is required.

You saw Mane trying an ­outrageous volley on Thursday when his confidence is not the best.

It didn’t come off and it affected him. So give yourself a better chance, open your foot and make it technically easier, make the target bigger.

Hit the target, don’t try the ­Hollywood passes, keep possession, don’t throw it away trying stuff that comes off one in 10. Rebuild confidence by doing the easy things well.

Even five draws instead of ­defeats in the last five home games would have put Liverpool in the top four.

I believe that those questioning Jurgen Klopp are ridiculous. I believe he will turn things around – and quite possibly this season.

I don’t think major changes are required, but I still believe that if a player wants to go – even someone as adored by the fans and as important as Salah – then let him.

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