There’s a score to be settled, “Mohamed Salah took to social media shortly after Real Madrid and Liverpool agreed to a rematch in the Champions League final on Saturday.
Salah’s first outing in the showpiece event of European club football came to an agonizing conclusion in Kyiv four years ago.
After sustaining a shoulder injury in a collision with Real defender Sergio Ramos, who was accused of ruthlessly shoving his opponent into the grass, the Egypt striker made a dramatic first-half departure.
Salah has never been able to forget the awful memories of that night, as Madrid went on to win 3-1.
At Liverpool’s pre-match media day this week, the 29-year-old remarked, “That was the worst moment of my career.” “That was a really dark period for me.
“‘We can’t lose this way,’ I thought. In football, I’d never had such emotion before, particularly in the inaugural Champions League (final) for all of us.”
Salah made atonement a year later, netting a penalty as Liverpool defeated Tottenham to win their sixth European title.
Salah would want to make Real pay when they meet again at the Stade de France this weekend, despite the fact that Ramos has since gone on to Paris Saint-Germain.
Salah remarked when he accepted the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award earlier this month, “I believe it’s retribution time.”
While Salah is focused on retribution, he is also concerned about his form, conditioning, and perhaps his long-term future at Liverpool as he heads to Paris.
With his 23rd Premier League goal against Wolves on Sunday, he concluded the season as the competition’s equal top scorer with Tottenham’s Son Heung-min.
It’s his third time at the top, and he capped off a stellar season by ending as the leading assist giver.
Salah’s outstanding early-season form, which earned him the writers’ award, has vanished in recent months.
His 31st club goal came in the Premier League championship fight on Sunday, when Liverpool barely lost to Manchester City. It was just his third goal in his last 17 outings for club and country.
That streak included a penalty shootout loss to Senegal’s Sadio Mane in a World Cup play-off, a repetition of the outcome in the Africa Cup of Nations final earlier this year.
Even before the final in Paris, the rigors of a grueling season are starting to show for a player who is seldom hurt.
Salah was pulled off early in Liverpool’s FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea and did not start either of the Reds’ last two league games to guarantee he would be ready to play Real Madrid.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s caution is reasonable given his team’s pursuit of a historic quadruple until City pipped them to the league championship.
Salah has 156 goals in five seasons since moving to England, playing a key part in Liverpool’s first Premier League triumph in 30 years in 2020, as well as three Champions League final appearances.
One lingering cloud on the horizon is that his contract will expire at the end of next season, and discussions have dragged on, with rumours that he wants to be the highest-paid player in the Premier League.
Salah stated this week that he will at least see out the last year of his contract with the Reds, but he refused to commit to the club in the long run.
Despite his history with Real, Real may now be the most probable destination if he decides to leave Liverpool.
Los Blancos are in desperate need of a superstar acquisition to compensate for the loss of Kylian Mbappe, who has elected to stay at PSG.
Liverpool has a lot of offensive talent, but a healthy and firing Salah would be a major weapon against Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid — and the player hasn’t lost faith in himself.
“You will discover that I am the greatest if you compare me to any player in my position, not just in my squad but in the globe,” he told BeIn Sports.