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 By Dave Usher

Salah deal proves Liverpool are on the rise despite Barcelona, Real Madrid interest

Mohamed Salah stands alone atop the single season Premier League goalscoring record books and did so by scoring many different goals.

As far as Monday mornings go, it wasn't bad was it? There can be few better ways for Liverpool fans to begin the week than waking up to news of Mohamed Salah penning a new five-year contract. 

It is a just reward for a phenomenal first season at the club from a man who supporters lovingly refer to as "The Egyptian King." Hopefully this means a break from all the tiresome rumours about Real Madrid or Barcelona being primed to snatch him away.

While there will always be a risk of that happening, the landscape in European football is definitely changing and Spain's big two no longer have everything their own way in the transfer market. The swathes of TV money that has come into the English game means the top Premier League clubs can now match any wages as an offer in Spain.

Sometimes that isn't enough and the lure to La Liga can be too strong, particularly for South Americans, many of whom grow up dreaming of playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid. For players who don't see the Bernabeu or Camp Nou as the pinnacle of a career, however, other factors come into play.

Salary is usually at the top of the list, but it's also vital for a club to be able to offer their players a happy working environment and the opportunity to be successful.

Liverpool can definitely offer two of those things and they look to be well on their way to adding the third. While Jurgen Klopp has yet to bring silverware to Anfield, reaching a Champions League Final (not to mention the spectacular fashion in which his team got there) will have made players all over Europe sit up and take notice.

Just as significantly, it will have made those players already at the club more confident that success is just around the corner. When you consider at all the factors involved, why would Salah want to be anywhere else right now? He's found a place where he is idolised and where he is enjoying the kind of individual success he could barely have even imagined 12 months ago.

At Liverpool Salah has become a global superstar. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi still have a higher global appeal than the modest Egyptian. Their profile is higher because of what they have accomplished over a long period of time rather than of who they play for. Salah can achieve everything he wants to at Liverpool providing the club continues on the upward trajectory they have been on since Klopp arrived.

Salah is well paid, competing on the very highest stage and is a part of a team that must be a dream for any attacking player to be a part of. Alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Salah is a part of the most potent front three in world football. Individually, they are all excellent but collectively they are on another level.

Salah had an unhappy World Cup experience with Egypt and the off the field politics he had to contend with reportedly has him considering his international future. Such things will surely have made him appreciate life at Liverpool even more. It's a happy camp, a fun place to work. That counts for something.

Klopp knows that to be able to keep his best players everything has to be just right. The spirit in the camp is fantastic and much of that is down to the manager. It's a cliche, but Klopp doesn't just sign good players, he signs good people. If he has any concern over a player's character, then he will not risk the harmony in the squad by bringing in a potential "bad apple."

For Liverpool to level the playing field against the wealthier clubs, the small details are important. Salah extending his contract is a big vote of confidence on what Klopp is trying to achieve.

Cynics will inevitably point to the examples of Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, both of whom signed new deals at Anfield amid much fanfare but were playing for Barcelona within 12 months. Why should this be any different, they will ask. Ignore them. They're wrong.

Only a fool would completely dismiss the possibility of Salah one day ending up at Barcelona or Real Madrid, but there are some key differences here compared to Suarez and Coutinho.

Liverpool are not the vulnerable lamb at the mercy of the big bad Catalan wolf anymore. With Suarez, the Reds were backed into a corner and the only option available to them was to agree to a contract extension with a moderate release fee inserted into it. Suarez had no intention of staying at Liverpool and if it hadn't been Barcelona that came calling, it would have been someone else. A £60 million release clause ensured the Reds got a decent sum in return, but it was nowhere near what the Uruguayan was worth. A harsh lesson well learned.

The Reds no longer entertain the idea of release clauses in contracts and that policy saw them lose Emre Can for nothing this summer. Yet the financial hit Liverpool took on Can had more than been offset by the huge amount they received for Coutinho. It will stand them in good stead in future deals too.

While Liverpool were ultimately unable to prevent Coutinho from following the same path as Suarez, having tied him down to a contract with no escape clause put them in a strong enough bargaining position to ensure they received an eye watering sum as suitable compensation.

There's a ripple effect from that too. The fee Liverpool received for Coutinho will be used as a barometer for future deals and because of that it's difficult to see how any club could even afford to buy Salah at this point. It would take offers in excess of £200m for Liverpool to even pick up the phone. Who can afford that without blatantly disregarding UEFA's financial fair play rules?

Liverpool fans can rest easy for a while now. Salah's future is at Anfield for as long as the Reds are in a position to challenge for trophies. As a supporter, you can't really ask for more than that.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.


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