Contract negotiations and Ballon d’Or – What it’s really like to interview Mohamed Salah – Liverpool FC
Mohamed Salah rarely speaks to the UK media and at a time when contract talks dominate discussions, This is Anfield got the inside track on what it’s like to interview No. 11.
Salah’s name has consistently been in the headlines this season, whether it’s for his prowess on the pitch, which has seen a return of 30 goals so far, or the ongoing talks over his future.
In April, a long interview of Salah by FourFourTwo was released, with the Egyptian dragged into further comments regarding his ongoing contract talks.
“I think the fans know what I want, but in the contract it’s not about the money at all,” Salah said. FourFourTwoby Chris Flanagan in early April, from the comfort of his own home.
It was just one of his intriguing comments regarding his future, his ambitions, his longevity in the game and the glittering journey undertaken at Anfield.
And This is Anfield received the inside track on the experience of interviewing Salah and how he, and his lyrics, fell on Flanagan himself.
Salah very rarely spoke to the British media, so tell us first how he was, how was he interviewed?
He was very nice – we spoke shortly after Liverpool’s win over Watford so he was in very good spirits, at home with his family, and we had a very pleasant conversation.
He was very polite throughout, open to discussing a variety of different topics, and even shared humorous memories, such as when Liverpool won the league and he said he was the only player in the hotel that evening who was actually backing Manchester City to beat Chelsea – because he wanted to win the title on the pitch with a victory over Liverpool.
Throughout our conversation, I really understood how proud he is of everything he has achieved during his time at Liverpool so far and what the club means to him.
So he was pretty relaxed about his future, you would say?
He seemed very relaxed about everything, including his future. I’m sure in an ideal world he would have preferred a new deal to be signed and sealed already, but I didn’t get the sense he was stressed about it, in fact, I specifically asked him if he was worried about the prospect of potentially entering the final year of his contract without the situation being resolved, and he insisted he was not.
I got the impression that his number one goal was absolutely to stay at the club, but he was willing to wait a bit longer to get the best possible deal, if that’s what it takes. It’s part of how negotiations work, but he’s made it clear he wants to stay, although he couldn’t 100% guarantee he will at this stage as talks are still ongoing.
In the interview, he says that the fans know what he wants and it’s not all about the money. Any idea or thoughts on what he wants?
I think when he said ‘the fans know what I want’ he was referring to the fact that he wanted to stay at the club and renew his contract which he alluded to previously and confirmed again in this interview . His additional quote that it’s not all about money was interesting because it was off the cuff – I asked him how he saw his future, but my question didn’t mention money. I suspect that was something he wanted to say and clarify, as he will no doubt be aware that in any contract negotiation the player is often viewed as being solely focused on the money.
He wanted to make it clear that these negotiations were not just about finances – he said he couldn’t describe the exact situation, and I personally can’t claim to be privy to any definitive information on the talks, but my best guess was that he might be referring to the duration of the contract in question. It would fit in with other things he has said, such as his desire to one day break Ian Rush’s club goalscoring record – it will take a few years.
We also talked about him soon to be 30, and he went out of his way to list seven or eight top players who are still playing at a very high level well into their 30s. For me, that again seemed to subtly hint that he would still be a top player for several more years, which would fit with a possible desire for a long contract.
He also talks about his ambitions to win the Ballon d’Or, do you feel like he thinks he can achieve that at Liverpool, or will he have to move to get that recognition?
Not only did I feel like he thinks he can achieve that at Liverpool, but I also got the impression that he thinks he can achieve that this year. At one point he said if Liverpool won both the Premier League and the Champions League this season it would win them the Ballon d’Or. It was said with a laugh because of course he can’t be certain he would win it, but I think that joke was a glimpse of his thoughts at the moment – that these final weeks of the season could give him a huge chance of winning the prize, if all goes well for Liverpool and for him.
He’s tried to play down his desire to win the Ballon d’Or at times in the past, but he made it clear in this interview that if given the chance, he really wants to win it.
How was the interview? That must have taken a lot of planning?
The interview was arranged through Adidas, who have a partnership with Salah and with whom we have worked on several great interviews in the past with various top players. We started conversations with them earlier in the season about our interest in interviewing Salah and putting him on the cover of our magazine – sometimes with the top players it can take a bit of time to materialize as their schedules are incredibly busy, especially for Salah this season, with the Africa Cup of Nations also in the middle of the season.
So it’s understandable that it took a lot of planning to find the right time to arrange a photoshoot and have an in-depth discussion with him about his time at Liverpool so far, but I think it all went very well. .
Once you finished the interview, what was the process for getting it ready for the magazine?
Nice – I wrote it in an 11 page article for the magazine, also including some very nice photographs from our photo shoot. We wanted to use the interview to tell the story of his time at Liverpool so far, and his journey to becoming both a Liverpool legend and arguably the best player in the world, so there’s a lot more to the story. interview in addition to talking about his future and the Ballon d’Or.
Among many other things in a long chat, he also talked about the two Champions League finals in Kyiv and Madrid, the Premier League title runs he had at the club, and picked his favorite goals from Liverpool, which I found interesting – they weren’t necessarily the goals I expected of him.
And finally, tell readers how they can get their hands on the magazine!
Hope people enjoy the feature – if you want to read our interview with Mo, the magazine is now on sale in stores and can be ordered online now here!