FSG’s biggest fear is being played out at Man City as Liverpool get the better of Mohamed Salah
Until Liverpool fans see Mohamed Salah awkwardly posing at a table, a pen hovering over a probably irrelevant piece of paper, they won’t be counting their chickens on a new contract. The situation has been clear for months, the player or the FSG having to give in. Salah reportedly did just that, but the owners never seemed likely to budge – much to the chagrin of some supporters. However, they may have just gotten the ultimate vindication from Manchester City.
The frustration is understandable from Liverpool’s perspective. Salah, even in his current dive, has a strong case as the best player in the world. No need to mince words: FSG has been underpaying him for years. Not in the normal sense of the word, but in the context of the football bubble. The Egyptian is currently earning less than half Cristiano Ronaldo’s salary and pocketing less than Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku.
“Pay him what he deserves” was duly the mantra. However, while FSG have shown themselves willing to offer a raise, thus raising the ceiling of their carefully maintained salary structure, the chances of Liverpool matching Ronaldo’s salary have always been nil. Hopefully the Mirror’s latest report is accurate and this tough approach has brought Salah back to the table – but even if it all ends very differently, the owners’ approach is justified.
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There is some truth to the argument that FSG need to change their model, having reached the top of the game. Liverpool need to attract and retain the best players, which requires a vastly different wage bill than might suit a challenger in the top four. However, the club will only be able to stay at the top for a long time if the expenses do not exceed the income, which requires careful management.
FSG could undoubtedly meet Salah’s more extravagant demands reported in the press without jeopardizing the club’s immediate success. Although they will never have the resources of Manchester City, there’s no denying that Liverpool are an efficient revenue-generating machine, and the extra stand-alone expenses could be comfortably absorbed. The problem is the ripple effect.
As it happens, Man City are currently acting as an ideal case study. Reports claim the Etihad is the likeliest destination for Erling Haaland, whose demands could even eclipse Salah’s. If any club has to pay this it will be City, but the signing is causing problems before it even happens.
The Star’s latest report claims Phil Foden has shelved a contract that was “agreed in principle” earlier in the season. Manchester City had apparently offered a deal worth £150,000 a week, and the final deal was seen as a formality. However, with the rumors about Haaland and his demands circulating, the England starlet might now be asking for more.
It’s natural. To some extent, this is the case in any workplace: when co-workers earn a lot more, it’s a bone of contention. When the salaries of these colleagues are splashed by the press and the difference amounts to hundreds of thousands, the effects are bound to be overpowering.
FSG is fully aware of this. It’s all well and good to say Salah is a special case, but not all of his teammates will see it that way. There will also be no potential new signings. Look at Thiago: when he joined Liverpool he went straight into the top salary bracket. Top players will use the existing salary structure as a benchmark, so once an exception is made, costs can skyrocket quickly.
With the future of Sadio Mane (and others) still up in the air, FSG simply cannot afford to smash the salary structure. From the start, their only option was to hope that Salah meets them halfway. If this has indeed happened, it will be great news for Liverpool, but a responsible wage structure is sacrosanct. Manchester City proves exactly why this is the case – at least for any club with the ambition to be sustainable.