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Darwin Núñez complicates Mohamed Salah transfer decision and Liverpool can't avoid it

Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah during a Liverpool training session.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)


Perhaps the trickiest decision that Liverpool will have to make this summer is the one regarding Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian, with just one year left on his contract, didn't have the best second half of the season but he still ended the campaign as the Reds' top scorer.

There is still transfer interest in Salah from Saudi Arabia, with the division's top clubs all keen to snap him up. But given his importance to Liverpool and the lack of appeal to playing in the Saudi Pro League, the 31-year-old penning an extension to tie him down for longer at Anfield is surely the best option.

Salah is on big wages at Liverpool, though, and the last time the Reds had to enter negotiations with his representatives, there was not an easy or quick resolution. He is also now in his 30s and he isn't the same explosive player who arrived at Anfield from AS Roma back in 2017. There is, perhaps for the first time, a reasonable conversation to be had about his long-term future.

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Even so, it should be a priority to get things sorted out this summer so that Arne Slot has clarity over the long-term future of his talisman. And Salah, for his part, has already confirmed that he won't be leaving in the upcoming transfer window, though there is no guarantee over what happens beyond that.

Things are made harder too by the fact that Darwin Núñez has so far failed to prove himself as a reliable goalscorer when big chances fall his way. While the Uruguayan did net 18 times last season, he should have got closer to the 30-goal mark considering the positions which he often found himself in.

That lack of killer instinct in key moments is certainly not something that you can accuse Salah of providing. While he might be more of a creator these days, he scored seven more goals than Núñez last season. While some were penalties, he also spent a significant portion of the campaign sidelined through injury.

Luis Díaz only netted seven Premier League goals and Cody Gakpo was inconsistent. Diogo Jota, meanwhile, is clinical but too often injured. Even when fit, he tends to be streaky in his goalscoring to some extent. Núñez, though, as the big-money number nine, was meant to be the one who came in and scored the biggest volume of goals.

Given that it hasn't quite happened regularly just yet, that points to a simple solution — at least in terms of what should happen with Salah. Liverpool simply cannot afford to let him go because the Egyptian's goals are far too valuable.

Losing 25 of them in Slot's first campaign is an absolute no-no, but so is losing Salah for nothing next summer if he doesn't sign a contract extension in the meantime. That leaves only one way forward: tie the number 11 down to an extended contract and continue to place him at the center of the team.