Mohamed Salah has received his final contract answer from Liverpool

Liverpool sold Sadio Mane and replaced him with Darwin Nunez because they were not prepared to meet his demands to become the club’s top earner to send a clear message to Mohamed Salah in his contract talks with the Reds

Liverpool’s handling of Sadio Mane sends a message to Mohamed Salah

Now the dust has settled on Sadio Mane’s exit from Liverpool and Darwin Nunez’s arrival, thoughts turn to what it means for the club’s protracted contract talks with Mohamed Salah.

There is a clear message to be drawn from Liverpool’s handling of Mane’s contract demands for Salah and his talks over a new deal. Like Salah, Mane had a year left on his Anfield deal and reportedly wanted close to £400,000–a-week to sign fresh terms. His argument was that as one of the Premier League’s best players, he should be paid the same as his peers like Kevin De Bruyne and Cristiano Ronaldo. But his case ignored Liverpool’s carefully-managed wage structure and the club’s top earner is Virgil van Dijk on around £220,000-a-week.

Liverpool do not have a sovereign wealth fund from some Middle Eastern country to bankroll them and they have always been careful not to spend beyond their limits. They could not afford to pay Mane £400,000-a-week, even if they wanted, and the same is true of Salah.






Liverpool would not meet Sadio Mane’s £400,000-a-week contract demands

Like Mane, Salah’s team make the case that he should receive a new deal that reflects his status as one of the world’s best players. Like Mane, he also wants around £400,000-a-week, which his camp say is the going rate for a player of his ability.

But like Mane, Liverpool cannot afford to hand him such a deal because he would shatter their wage structure and have the likes of van Dijk, Thiago Alcantara and Alisson knocking on their door, wanting similar pay rises. That is why they reluctantly sold Mane to Bayern Munich for £35.1million, where he will reportedly earn £360,000-a-week, but only after they had landed Nunez from Benfica for a potential club record £85million.

Nunez suddenly gives Liverpool leverage in their contracts with Salah and in essence, they have already replaced him and Mane with the Uruguayan and Luis Diaz. There is no longer a feeling of Armageddon if Liverpool do not agree a deal to keep Salah.

Diaz should hopefully continue the rapid progress he has made since arriving in January, while Nunez has already shown he can replace Salah’s goals for Liverpool. At 22, he is also the perfect age when compared to thirtysomethings Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino.

As hard as it is to contemplate for Liverpool fans, the club had to start replacing this fabled front three at some point because they were aging together. That process began in earnest last week with the signing of Nunez and then the sale of Mane 72 hours later.







Liverpool feel signing Darwin Nunez is a better long-term investment than meeting Sadio Mane’s contract demands
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Image:

Getty Images)

Salah has said he will definitely stay next season, ruling out a cut-price exit like Mane’s this summer. He may well feel that strengthens his bargaining position because it gives Liverpool just six months to pay him what he wants before he if free to start talking to foreign sides in January about a Bosman move.

But Liverpool have shown by their actions of the last seven days that they are unlikely to blink. They will not go beyond their limits and will offer Salah what they feel they can afford to pay him.

And if he continues to say no, they will feel the £64million they paid up front for Nunez is a better long-term investment.

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