Ahead of CL final, Salah confirms Liverpool stay as Mane hints at exit

Published May 26, 2022
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (C) laughs as he runs with team-mates during a practice session at the AXA Training Centre on Wednesday.—AFP
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (C) laughs as he runs with team-mates during a practice session at the AXA Training Centre on Wednesday.—AFP

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who is heading into the final year of his contract, says he will be staying with the club next season regardless of how future talks over his deal progress.

Salah, joint top scorer in the Premier League with 23 goals this season, would be available on a free transfer at the end of next season if he does not sign a contract extension.

Ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid, Salah said his full focus is on winning the biggest prize in European football for the second time.

“In my mind, I don’t focus on the contract. I don’t want to be selfish at all. I said two months ago it’s about the team. It’s an important week for us. I want to win the Champions League again,” he said at Liverpool’s pre-match media day on Wednesday.

“I’m staying next season for sure. I want to see Hendo [Jordan Henderson] with that trophy in his hands again and then hopefully he gives it to me!” he said.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, who is also out of contract at the end of next season, told Sky Sports he would address his future after Saturday’s final.

“This question I will answer after Champions League. If I’m staying or not, I’m going to answer after Champions League,” he said.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp dismissed the suggestion the futures of Salah and Mane could be decided the result in Paris on Saturday.

“No not at all. Why? If we win it, they want to go?” Klopp said. “We are in talks with all the players but it is just not the moment to talk about the results of these talks. It’s all clear. Players have this idea, we have this idea and sometimes they match immediately. Sometimes not and then you work together. We’ve known each othermfor a long time. ”

In the aftermath of Real’s stunning comeback against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals, which set up a repeat of the 2018 final between Liverpool and the Spanish giants, Salah said he had a “score to settle”.

Salah was forced off early in Real’s 3-1 win in Kyiv due to a dislocated shoulder after being hauled to the ground by Sergio Ramos.

The injury also left him hobbled for the 2018 World Cup as Egypt crashed out at the group stages.

“It was the worst moment in my career,” he added. “I had a good season and playing the Champions League final I had to come off after 30 minutes. I thought we cannot lose this way. I never felt that feeling before in football.

“It was the first Champions League final for most of us. We were very disappointed. We managed to win it the year after so it was kind of revenge.”

Liverpool have already lifted the League Cup and FA Cup, but their attempt to land an unprecedented quadruple ended on Sunday as Manchester City pipped them to the Premier League by one point.

Klopp said the players had put the disappointment of finishing runners-up to City out of their minds.

“Nobody feels the pain from Sunday anymore. We are really just looking forward to this game against an incredibly strong opponent, the most experienced opponent, you can probably get in this competition, but we are looking forward to it,” he said.

‘REAL MOVING ON FROM MBAPPE’

At the media day in Madrid on Tuesday, Real Madrid players and manager Carlo Ancelotti said striker Kylian Mbappe’s decision to snub the Spanish champions and stay at Paris St Germain was not a distraction ahead of the final.

Mbappe’s PSG contract was due to end in June and the France international has been tipped to join Real since the previous close season. However, amid Real’s interest, the 23-year-old signed a contract extension with PSG last week that will keep him tied to the French club until 2025.

“It’s not the moment to talk about small things,” Real forward Karim Benzema told Movistar Plus on Tuesday when asked if he wanted to comment on his France team mate’s decision. “I’m not angry at all. We have a Champions League final on Saturday and that’s where my mind and focus are. I’m concentrated on the big game and that’s what matters to me right now. The game is more important than listening to the noise.”

Brazil midfielder Casemiro, one of Real Madrid’s leaders, was more specific and said the decision of one player won’t affect a club of their stature.

“This club is not about players, this club is about history,” Casemiro told reporters. “Players can mark certain times like Alfredo di Stefano, Cristiano [Ronaldo], but this club will continue to win, because the players are very important, but what wins is the club. The fans may be sad, but with what we have this club will continue to win.”

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said Real’s players had “disconnected” from the speculation over Mbappe.

“On a day to day basis, we are not reading everything that comes out,” said Courtois. “In the end everyone decides what’s best for their career and life but I think there is nothing more beautiful than playing for Real Madrid.”

Ahead of his record-breaking fifth Champions League final as a coach, Ancelotti said his team were “calm and motivated”.

The Italian added that Kylian Mbappe’s decision had not created a distraction in the dressing room and insisted he would not talk about players from other clubs, when asked twice.

“It’s quite clear for us what we have to think about,” Ancelotti said in a press conference. “We have never talked about players from other clubs. We have total respect for everyone, we respect the decisions they take and

we respect other clubs. We have to do our jobs and it’s quite clear what we have to think about, which is the final.”

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2022

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