New Barcelona manager Xavi has reportedly made Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah the player he hopes to build his side around after the departure of Lionel Messi
After months of misery and mediocrity under Ronald Koeman, there is a renewed sense of optimism at the Camp Nou.
The World Cup-winning midfielder will be hoping to make an instant impact, although he has already achieved the task of lifting the malaise at the La Liga giants.
But those positive feelings will only last as long as results on the pitch warrant it. Make no mistake, for all the romanticism of Xavi’s return, he is still expected to build a successful team in the mould of the ones he played in for so many years.
President Joan Laporta also knows that he needs a quick transformation. He was elected on the promise of keeping Lionel Messi, something he had to renege on just months later.
But with Xavi, he has a clean slate and according to El Nacional he is willing to atone for the mistakes of the summer by backing his new boss.
The Reds star has been consistently brilliant for a number of seasons, but in this campaign, there is now a genuine argument that he is the single best player in the world.
His manager Jurgen Klopp certainly believes that adorning him with that moniker after yet another starring performance in the Premier League.
Xavi has also been watching, with reports in Spain claiming he wants the Egyptian forward ‘at all costs’.
Of course, Liverpool hold all the cards in any potential negotiations. Most importantly, Salah’s contract still has another season-and-a-half on it and if Liverpool have proven anything with Barcelona, it is that they are willing to hold off until the price is right for them.
But there is an intriguing juncture on the way however. Unless a new contract can be negotiated, next year will mark the final summer window that the Premier League giants will be able to demand a fee.
In 12 months’ time, the Reds could find themselves in the very position PSG are in with Kylian Mbappe, with the Frenchman able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement from January 1.
Salah has been clever in his public dealings since discussion over a new contract started, outlining his intentions, whilst always leaving the ball in the club’s court.
“If you ask me, I would love to stay until the last day of my football career, but I can’t say much about that – it’s not in my hands,” he told Sky Sports last month.
“At the moment I can’t see myself ever playing against Liverpool. That would make me sad. It’s hard, I don’t want to talk about it, but it would make me really sad.”
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But at the same time as declaring his plan to stay at Anfield for the remainder of his career, he has also opened the door to a move to Barca or Real Madrid.
“I hope to be able to play for many more years. Why not?” Salah told Marca when asked about playing in Spain. “No one knows what’s going to happen in the future, so… maybe one day, yes.”
For now, the ball is in Liverpool’s court, but that could change quickly and Liverpool bosses will hope to quieten the noise sooner rather than later.