Tokyo Olympics or Liverpool, who will likely be Premier League champions, at the start of next season? This is the question as Mohamed Salah’s potential involvement for his national side at the showpiece stands to be a decision for the player and his Premier League club.
Egypt’s Olympic team coach Shawky Gharib told Reuters on Wednesday the national team will not force the player to be involved if that is his decision. Media reports on Salah’s inclusion in a provisional 50-man squad led to speculation that the English club could be without him for the start of the next Premier League season.
Salah’s participation with the Pharaohs team in Tokyo is a decision to be taken only by Salah, his club Liverpool, and his coach Jurgen Klopp,” said Gharib. We cannot force Salah to participate with us because Fifa regulations do not compel him to participate.”
But while the Olympic tournament is for Under-23 teams, three over-age players are allowed in each squad. The Egyptian Messi was part of the Reds team which won the Champions League last season. There is every likelihood that they will go on to lift the 2019/20 league title, with Salah their current top-scorer with 14 goals.
Salah’s agent tweeted that “no decision has been made yet” with Gharib noting that the view was correct. “The agent’s comment does not offend anyone,” said Gharib. “What he said is the same truth.” However, the coach hopes a way can be found for the striker – the most successful player Egypt has produced – to perform for his country in the tournament from July 22 to August 8.
“Salah is one of the top three players in the world and any team hopes to have a player of his capabilities and skills in the squad… I have chosen him in an expanded list of 50 players, to select 18 players heading to Tokyo. The final list that will include 18 players will be sent next June, so it is too early to talk about the names of the 18 players,” he said.