Mohamed Salah's future at Liverpool seems uncertain after clash with Jurgen Klopp - a potential £150m transfer to Saudi Arabia gains appeal, suggests LEWIS STEELE


It could have been passed off as a storm in a teacup but ended up being a full-blown tornado. In just seven words, Mohamed Salah confirmed what all football fans had suspected: all is not well for the Egyptian King at Liverpool and the end looks nearer than ever.

‘If I speak, there will be fire,’ said the forward, who earlier had a heated exchange with Jurgen Klopp on the touchline when he was about to come on as a substitute. Arms were outstretched, fingers pointed and Darwin Nunez, of all people, had to step in as an unlikely peacemaker.

The German manager tried to play it down and said: ‘We spoke about that moment in the dressing room with the lads, it’s done.’ Klopp tried to extinguish any flames of speculation but Salah then added fuel, the debate roared on and soon became out of control.

The location of the original row said a lot in itself and the fact it happened on the touchline highlights something was wrong long before this tip of the iceberg emerged. This was the second time in the last three games that Salah had started as a substitute.

Mohamed Salah and Jurgen Klopp had strong words for each other as the forward came onto the pitch in the second half

Mohamed Salah and Jurgen Klopp had strong words for each other as the forward came onto the pitch in the second half

Saturday's clash was the second time in three matches the Egyptian has started on the bench

Saturday’s clash was the second time in three matches the Egyptian has started on the bench

The Reds saw their faint Premier League hopes all but disappear with the 2-2 draw at the London Stadium

The Reds saw their faint Premier League hopes all but disappear with the 2-2 draw at the London Stadium

If last week at Fulham could be passed off as the forward being rested, his omission for this trip to West Ham was clear: he was dropped. Be it form, fitness or attitude – maybe a bit of both – Salah is certainly not Klopp’s favourite pupil at the moment.

And that was probably the bone of contention that led him to have a short fuse when waiting to be introduced in the 79th minute. There is no transcript of what was said, but it was clear both parties were agitated – Salah more so – and fingers were being pointed.

Klopp had demanded his team to fight more after a meek midweek surrender in the Merseyside Derby. He certainly got his wish. He probably did not mean for it to be among themselves, though.

This was a bizarre episode that sums up the dejected and defeatist mood around the club after a bruising month that has seen them fall out of contention in the Premier League title race by dropping points three times in four games, plus crashing out of Europe.

If the Opta ‘super-computer’ gave the Reds a one per cent chance to win the league after Wednesday’s loss, that task was made nearly impossible after this disappointing, mistake-laden draw at West Ham.

Andy Robertson and a comical own goal helped Liverpool turn the game on its head after Jarrod Bowen’s first-half header but Michail Antonio fired the Hammers to a point with a 77th-minute equaliser. It represented the waving of a white flag in the title race for Liverpool.

Despite four goals, much of the match was a bit of a bore that passed with few notable events. Both teams had been bruised by underwhelming months – West Ham had won just one of their eight games before this – and it made for a flat atmosphere and game.

If incoming manager Arne Slot was watching, the Dutchman would have noted several simple areas for improvement for Liverpool. In the last month, it is the basics of football – or lack thereof – that have hampered them. Wasteful finishing at one end, careless errors at the other. 

Jarrod Bowen opened the scoring with a precise header that found its way into the corner of the net

Jarrod Bowen opened the scoring with a precise header that found its way into the corner of the net

Liverpool stopper Alisson could do nothing about the effort, which the England international was able to generate unopposed

Liverpool stopper Alisson could do nothing about the effort, which the England international was able to generate unopposed

It was the 27-year-old's 16th Premier League goal of the season and 20th in all competitions

It was the 27-year-old’s 16th Premier League goal of the season and 20th in all competitions

Andy Robertson was Liverpool's driving force in the second half and he grabbed the equaliser after the break

Andy Robertson was Liverpool’s driving force in the second half and he grabbed the equaliser after the break

Klopp glanced up at the big screen and could only shake his head at a replay of West Ham’s opener. It was a lovely header from Bowen after a nice cross from Mohammed Kudus, but it was allowed to happen thanks to static defending from Liverpool.

The Reds manager accused his team of ‘rushing it’ when attacking this week but this was the polar opposite with a complete lack of confidence in front of goal. Bowen looked like just the player they were missing.

He became the first West Ham star in the Premier League era to score 20 or more goals in a season, while also matching the great Sir Geoff Hurst for scoring against Liverpool in three different games in one season.

Klopp’s side were showing none of the fight he asked for and it felt like his era was going to end without a whimper. But they played much better after the break and were soon level when Andy Robertson poked home an equaliser after nice work from Luis Diaz.

They took the lead just before the hour with the sort of goal you need when your forwards are not firing. Cody Gakpo, back in the team after his wife gave birth this week, had a shot which deflected off three Hammers men, with keeper Alphonse Areola turning it into his own net.

The London Stadium was quiet but got a lift when Emerson Palmieri tanned the gloves of Alisson with a thumping effort from distance. Minutes later, they were level through Antonio. The striker headed home after more dazzling work from Bowen with a tidy run and cross.

The visitors went ahead through a comical own goal after Cody Gakpo's mishit shot from close range

The visitors went ahead through a comical own goal after Cody Gakpo’s mishit shot from close range 

The Dutchman (centre) looked to returned the Reds to winning ways on an individually good showing

The Dutchman (centre) looked to returned the Reds to winning ways on an individually good showing 

Michail Antonio made Liverpool pay for their lax defending with a superb header back across Alisson

Michail Antonio made Liverpool pay for their lax defending with a superb header back across Alisson

Klopp's side have now won only one of their last five Premier League matches, while their record in all competitions is two wins in seven

Klopp’s side have now won only one of their last five Premier League matches, while their record in all competitions is two wins in seven

And it was at that second where tempers flared on the touchline. Klopp said something to Salah which the Egyptian did not like and he reacted with fury. You know it is bad when Nunez, the ‘agent of chaos’, acts as the bouncer to break up the scrap.

Salah still came on and actually put in a decent cameo. But the incident was one to make fans worry the Egyptian has had enough, with his contract up next year. The goals have dried up, though that could have been put down to fitness issues.

But now, this row has planted a seed of thought in fans’ minds even if it has been blown out of proportion. 

Salah, 31, is not getting any younger and his form has stalled in 2024. Mix that with supposed attitude issues and £150million from the Saudis suddenly looks more appealing.



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