Mohamed Salah can silence the critics who question his loyalty to Liverpool by avenging the most painful moment of his career when the Egypt star faces Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Salah sparked howls of indignation among Liverpool fans recently when he refused to rule out the possibility of playing for a Spanish club in the future.
The fact that Salah was speaking to Madrid-based newspaper Marca at the time only increased speculation that he was laying the groundwork for a move to Real Madrid.
“I hope to be able to play for many more years. Why not? No one knows what’s going to happen in the future, so maybe one day, yes. It’s not up to me,” Salah said when asked if he was keen to try Spanish football.
Salah’s flirtatious response was similar to the one he gave to another Spanish outlet in December when questioned about a potential La Liga move.
“I think Madrid and Barcelona are two top clubs,” he told AS.
Whether either Real or Barcelona could afford to buy Salah amid the current financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen.
But for a club whose supporters pride themselves on their passionate and unflinching loyalty to the Liverpool cause, Salah’s refusal to rule out a switch to Spain was a careless own goal.
It tapped into the long-standing suspicion among a section of Liverpool’s fanbase that Salah, whose contract runs until 2023, is motivated by personal glory rather than team success.
The cynics support their claims by highlighting Salah’s occasional spats with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane when he shoots rather than passing to a better placed team-mate.
They also point to Salah’s sulky response to being substituted during the defeat against Chelsea in March, and his reported frustration at being ignored for the Liverpool captaincy in the absence of the injured Jordan Henderson.