A contract conundrum... How do Liverpool approach the front-three? ⭐️
Liverpool won't want to replace all three stars at once... but one may likely have to go in the near future.
All good things must come to an end, so they say.
And indeed, one day our world-class trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will be no more, with fresh young guns stepping in to earn their own songs and places in Liverpool folklore.
These giants who ran riot in Europe, terrorising defences and making our dreams come true will one day be the heroes of stories rather than our TV screens.
Hopefully, despite a constant stream of transfer rumours speculating otherwise, it will be an exit that’s on the club’s terms.
With all three forwards being 29 years of age and their contracts set to expire in two years’ time, some difficult decisions will have to be made.
The situation has been made all the more complicated by Firmino and Mane’s respective drop-off in form last term, with the pair salvaging their reputations to some extent with a late peak in Liverpool’s remarkable run in our final 10 games of the campaign.
Questions have been raised as to what extent such showings were related to the injury crisis and the resulting disruption to the team structure, not to forget the general context of the lack of crowds; a factor that genuinely affected performance.
Though beneficial to our Champions League hopes, it probably didn’t help either of the pair’s cases that Salah was actively keeping our season alive whilst simultaneously competing with Harry Kane for individual honours.
37 goal contributions in an average (by our own lofty standards under Klopp) campaign is pretty remarkable in that respect.
Is the contrast a warning of the decline to come?
It’s a serious question we need to consider, especially for a club that now lives and breathes sustainability.
As much as we’d love to see our current three grow old together until they’re eventually shipped out to less demanding leagues, or bit-part roles at other big clubs, or even retire, the sad reality is that we can cash in on such stars whilst their value remains high in order to fund the next round of young superstars to grow at Liverpool.
It’s ultimately a timing game and a difficult one at that. Finding the right balance between getting the most out of their best years and convincing suitors that there’s still enough left in the tank to justify them forking out a big fee for a player heading toward decline.
It begs the question as to what that exact point is for our current front-three.
Salah strikes us as one of that select grouping of footballers that take such good care of themselves to the point where they can extend their careers at the absolute highest level of football beyond the accepted point of decline.
Though far from treating their bodies with the kind of widespread, casual disdain that was typical of footballers prior to the turn of the century, there’s perhaps not as strong a feeling associated with Mane and less so with our Brazilian No.9.
This is reflected, to an extent, in the level of priority assigned to extending their current terms with the club, with our Egyptian King leading the race, according to James Pearce of The Athletic.
“Salah is the priority and then Mane,” the renowned journalist wrote for the publication.
“I think Liverpool will do everything they possibly can to get Salah to sign a new deal.
“If he doesn’t then you have to consider selling him next summer or accept you run the risk of losing him for nothing in 2023.
“Firmino is clearly the most vulnerable. His contribution did dip significantly last season.
“What happens with him depends to a large extent whether Salah and Mane sign, and whether he gets back to his best in 2021-22.”
We’re in a position where we know, for all intents and purposes, with almost absolute certainty that we can rely on Salah to produce another world-class season and potentially many more beyond the next campaign.
This then suggests that one of either Mane or Firmino is at serious risk of being offloaded next summer in order to help fund a revamp of the forward line.
Of course, this all rather depends on whether we can keep hold of Salah beyond 2023. If not, it will throw a rather sizeable spanner in the works; especially given that the recruitment team are hoping to implement a gradual overhaul of the squad.
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