Mohamed Salah’s future at Liverpool has, rightly or wrongly, been the subject of numerous questions for some time.
He only helps to stir the pot, with such public declarations as “I think Madrid and Barcelona are two top clubs. Who knows what will happen.”
Such comments ensure that questions continue to be forthcoming for Jurgen Klopp, even when there are, simply, few places for the Egyptian to go now.
Jamie Carragher made the point not long ago: The market isn’t there for 28-year-old.
He may well want an opportunity at Real Madrid or Barcelona – the two clubs who, frankly, remain the pinnacle for any footballer of any nationality – but there isn’t an opportunity to be had.
Barcelona’s astronomical debts, caused largely due to years of financial mismanagement and awful spending amid a myriad of other issues, mean the Camp Nou simply isn’t viable given Liverpool won’t be giving him away for free any time soon.
Likewise, while Salah would no doubt quite fancy the opportunity of strutting his stuff at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid’s desire is Kylian Mbappe. They haven’t the finances for anyone else when the hope remains that the 22-year-old World Cup winner can be theirs.
Salah is under contract at Anfield until the summer of 2023.
Last week, Klopp admitted: “He is a very, very important player for us and hopefully he will be that for a very long time of course.”
But nights like Thursday throw up their own questions.
Struggling for goals on home soil – they haven’t scored from open play at Anfield in over 10 hours – and trailing 1-0 to Chelsea through Mason Mount’s fine effort, the hour mark arrived and the Premier League’s top scorer exited the scene.
Carragher, speaking on Sky Sports on commentary, declared: “I’m surprised at Mo Salah coming off, l really am. He doesn’t look too happy himself.”
That was an understatement. Furious would be more fitting.
Barely a look was exchanged between Salah and Klopp, whom just five minutes previously had been heard berating the No.11 for not working back in a manner he deemed necessary, as he left the field. In his seat in the stands, he sat, his frustration clear.
It was the earliest Salah had been taken off since September 2017.
Less than five minutes after Salah’s exit came a tweet from his agent. No words were put out there. But saying anything wasn’t the point.
Instead, his single full stop wasn’t designed for anything other than to get a reaction.
By full time, it had garnered over 2200 retweets and over 3100 likes. Job done.
Was it necessary? Absolutely not. But it got what he wanted: People talking about his client’s early exit; pick a side.
In Salah’s absence, Liverpool barely created a chance worthy of the name. Not that they had done so with him.
It’s now five straight home defeats for the soon-to-be deposed champions.
Their hopes of retaining the title went long, long ago and now their top four hopes are hanging by an extremely slender thread.
They could do without any additional drama on the side.
Salah’s agent will already know that. But then, perhaps he has other plans.
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip