Monday, July 4, 2022

Should I Stay or Should I go…Stars Making Different Decisions

Two world superstars made different decisions this past week. Mohamed Salah signed an extension with Liverpool, binding him to the club until 2025. Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, has asked out of the Manchester United morass.

Salah’s agreement puts an end to the months long speculation that he would exit Manager Jurgen Klopp’s side. Instead, it was linemate Sadio Mane who departed, and Salah who will now have the Merseyside spotlight to himself while being ably supported by the likes of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, newly acquired Darwin Nunez and possibly, though not assuredly, long-time teammate Bobby Firmino.

Securing their superstar brings relief to a Liverpool fan base that has thrilled to Salah’s 156 goals since joining the club in 2017. Salah’s time at Anfield has seen to club rise to the heights of the football world, winning both a Champions League crown and Premier League title under Manager Jurgen Klopp. Salah was the Premier League’s Player of the Year this past season and scored 31 goals across all competitions for the Reds. Salah’s 23 Premier League goals tied him for the league’s Golden Boot with Spurs’ Son Heung-min.

Salah’s success on the field is matched by an off-field persona marked by charitable contributions, religious devotion and an accessible bonding with club supporters. Salah’s extension and the previous extension of Klopp’s contract until 2026 mean the current golden era of Liverpool football will continue.

A club which is father than ever from its golden era is Manchester United. Drama at the club continued this week with the announcement that Cristiano Ronaldo has requested a transfer. The global superstar rejoined the Premier League club last summer with the expectation of returning the Red Devils to glory. Instead, the club suffered its worst Premier League season ever with Ronaldo often blamed for the collapse despite a club leading 24 goals in all competitions and a Premier League scoring haul which trailed only that of joint Golden Boot leaders Salah and Son. Ronaldo was accused of contributing to a toxic and divided locker room as he criticized the younger players for their effort and performance while his outsized persona on and off the field was believed to inhibit the development of those same players. At the end of the day, Ronaldo wants to compete for trophies, the Champions League in particular, and Manchester United does not present that near term opportunity for the 37-year-old as new manager Erik ten Hag begins a rebuild of the once powerful club.

Ten Hag’s early rebuilding efforts are off to a slow start as the Frenkie de Jong saga drags on. The Barcelona midfielder is ten Hag’s much publicized primary target and yet a deal has not yet happened amid rumblings that the player prefers to remain in Spain. The latest twist to the story was a statement by Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta that the club intended to make every effort to keep the Dutch midfielder.

Ronaldo supporters in Manchester hold out the possibility that the frustrated Ronaldo is threatening his personal departure as a ploy to kick start the transfer widow for Manchester United which has lagged other top clubs in getting deals across the line. United has claimed Ronaldo is not for sale, despite the striker’s public desire, even as the Portuguese legend did not appear for his first day of scheduled training at the club’s Carrington Road facility.


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