Arne Slot has early Liverpool call to make as Mohamed Salah change clear

With a change in look that is almost as dramatic as the one undergone by Liverpool this summer, Mohamed Salah reported for Egypt duty over the weekend.

Less than a fortnight after his domestic season had ended with the Reds, Salah was back in Cairo, with a striking new haircut that both caught the eye and generated column inches. The Reds' 25-goal top scorer will give the new trim its first outing when he is involved for Egypt against Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau in World Cup qualifiers next week.

What happens after that, though, remains a mystery with Egypt also wanting Salah to be one of their over-23 players for the Olympic Games in Paris later this summer. Inclusion for that competition would mean he will miss the Reds' tour of the United States in late July and early August, immediately presenting new head coach Arne Slot with a headache.



From a football perspective, Slot would love to have as much of the summer as possible to work with a player of rare gifts like Salah while you would expect Liverpool, from a commercial standpoint, will also want their main man on the pitch as they seek to further their brand in the US market.

For now, that issue remains without a resolution, just like what will happen over the winger's long-term status as a Liverpool player. Now into the final 12 months of terms he signed on the Greek island of Mykonos two years ago, Salah, who will be 32 inside a fortnight, sees ample speculation around his future as a result.

With new 'CEO of football' Michael Edwards and Julian Ward, Liverpool's two former sporting directors, now back at the club, there is unlikely to be any major concern just yet given the relationship that exists between the pair and Ramy Abbas, the Colombian lawyer who represents Salah.

But while the subject remains without a definitive conclusion, the talk around the forward's next move will continue. When you are of the profile of the Egyptian - where even an end-of-season trip to the barbers garners that much interest - such chatter is to be expected.

For their part, Liverpool insist they are yet to be contacted by Egypt about the Olympics issue and are adamant they are planning for life with Salah in the camp for the coming campaign.

It's also been reported that the Saudi Pro League, who attempted to lure him to the region last summer, believe the he wants to stay on Merseyside for the start of the Slot era. His tweet within hours of Slot's official confirmation last month was proof enough of that.

If Salah is indeed set to stay, which all indications suggest will be the case, then that represents an early filip for Slot and the new-look team behind him as they go about plotting for the campaign ahead. Fresh terms on the biggest-ever contract handed down at Anfield, however, will be a different story entirely and will depend on several factors.

Can a 32-year-old Salah continue performing at the sort of levels shown these past seven years? Will owners Fenway Sports Group look to heavily incentivize any renewed terms? Does the Liverpool man even want to stay beyond 2025? There is no easy answer to this particular situation.

On the playing side of things, though, there is plenty to be excited about. Liverpool continue to be linked with a number of wide forwards, with Crysencio Summerville of Leeds United, Brentford's Bryan Mbuemo and PSV Eindhoven star Johan Bakayoko all named in the gossip columns of late.

In the case of the latter two, their best form has come when performing off the right of the attack, which is an area Salah has become synonymous with during his time on Merseyside, where he has plundered 211 goals in 349 games.

With Slot potentially getting set to tweak Jurgen Klopp's trademark 4-3-3 to his preferred 4-2-3-1, though, is there a case for turning the previously jet-heeled wide forward version of Salah into a goal-poacher supreme inside the penalty area?

Goals last season at Anfield against the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle, Brentford and Brighton - to name just four - showcased the Egyptian's ability to sniff out chances inside the area in the mould of a more traditional No.9.

Fifty-five goals since signing that new deal is enough evidence to suggest Salah is showing no real signs of slowing down but with the Reds continuing to be linked with a number of younger players who operate in his trademark position, the idea of Salah as the most central of the attacking setup is a prospect that might intrigue Slot.

The days of Salah dancing away from a handful of defenders before lashing one into the top corner from a wider area are becoming more infrequent but he has lost little of his output in terms of numbers, even if we're accounting for an ordinary couple of months towards the end of the term after a damaging hamstring issue had haltered progress.

It's something Cristiano Ronaldo managed to do so effectively as the miles started to clock up for the Portugal legend in his early 30s. Ronaldo made his name as a fleet-footed winger during his late teens early 20s at Manchester United before remodelling his game to become more of a pragmatic poacher inside the box in Madrid.

"I wonder if he's building up for a long career as a centre forward where his running doesn't have to be 11km, 12km per match, it can be 7km, 8km, 9km, where he can still score two goals and live off moments," Gary Neville remarked of Ronaldo back in 2017. "He's living off moments more than his all-round performance now.

"I think he'll go on for a long, long time. And in this game, he's becoming a goal-scorer, he's getting in the box more, he's coming across the near post, his heading is incredible anyway. I think we've seen the transformation of a player. "He knows he can't go up and down all the time now. He knows he can't go past players all the time. He'll become a goalscorer, a poacher and a good one."

It is an assessment that, in time, may also be spoken about with regards to Salah as he continues to evolve at Liverpool, seven years on from signing. The haircut may not be the only thing that changes this summer.