Mohamed Salah deal marks a new dawn at Liverpool
In what could prove to be one of the pivotal signings of the summer, Mohamed Salah has agreed a new and quite incredible five-year deal at Liverpool. It represents a clear statement of intent from a club that has suffered at the hands of their traditional rivals in the transfer market over recent years.
Liverpool fans have suffered the heartache of watching Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho depart Anfield for the bright lights of Barcelona over the last few years, and such reluctant sales have always dictated that the side would fall short when challenging for the biggest prizes.
Europe's most wanted
However, the tide has clearly turned this summer, and despite the widespread interest in Salah from Europe's leading clubs following a superb year of personal success, the English Premier League's Player of the Year has committed his future to the club that has provided the platform for his rise to prominence.
Salah's contribution to the Egyptian national team cannot be underestimated, but injury, early elimination and a controversial photograph with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov made it a difficult and frustrating World Cup for the talismanic figure.
The success of qualification was soured, and Liverpool pounced on the opportunity when he returned home.
The World Cup offers another dimension to a game that has become saturated with extreme wealth at the very highest level.
In Russia this summer, the trophy will not be claimed by the team with the biggest budget. Instead, the pride of representing your country will prove far more emotional and meaningful than representing an employer, and such passion has already been evident.
And it is that passion that has turned Salah back to club football for salvation. Egypt will not remember the competition fondly, but the values of international football will have applied to Salah in agreeing to his new deal at Anfield.
There is no doubt that he is one of the hottest commodities in European football at the present time, but happiness cannot be bought.
Make no mistake, his new deal will be incredibly lucrative from a financial point of view, but trophy chasers would not automatically turn to Liverpool when Europe's elite are waiting at the door with a blank cheque.
However, Salah's journey to the top has been long and hard, and many baulked at the reported figure that Liverpool paid AS Roma for his services last summer.
That now looks nothing more than an absolute bargain, and manager Jurgen Klopp should be praised for how he has nurtured and brought the best out of Salah over the course of a season.
Defeat and injury in the UEFA Champions League final was difficult to accept but will have only made him more determined to make amends for his club and fans in the future.
Salah's commitment to Egypt has shown his true character, and he leads by example. Carrying the weight of expectation of a nation on his shoulders, he appears unaffected, representing his country with an acceptance of the responsibility that he has inherited through his unmatched ability.
His biggest international challenge now is dealing with the disappointment of this summer.
Although their elimination from Russia remains raw, Salah has refocused his energy on the challenges ahead at Liverpool, and his commitment can act as a significant catalyst in moving the club forward.
When clubs sell their best players, they will never attract players of that same quality to replace them. The best players want to win trophies and to win trophies they need the best players around them.
Liverpool has had to accept their place in the natural order in recent years, but Salah will now change that mindset.
Signing him last summer was a key element in Liverpool reaching the Champions League final, but retaining his services will send out a far more powerful message to the rest of Europe. Klopp and the club owners deserve great credit.
Klopp's key man
Even with the distraction of Egypt's incredible qualification campaign and their impending return to the biggest international stage, Salah still produced for his club.
The difficult formative years of his career have developed the character he is today, and at the age of 26, he is now at a level of maturity and physical peak that will ensure that there is still more to come from the heralded Egyptian King.
Salah will have inevitably discussed Liverpool's short and long-term aims and ambitions before putting pen to paper on the deal that will potentially keep him at the club until 2023, and these discussions would have involved transfer targets.
However, it's Salah's new contract that will prove to be the crucial catalyst for Liverpool in their transfer business this summer, as well as their future direction.
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