Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been left out of Egypt’s squad for this summer’s upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Egypt boss Shawky Gharib has long been keen to include Salah in his squad and has repeatedly urged Liverpool to let him go, but the Reds were always hesitant to agree as it would cut into his pre-season at club level.
The problem for Gharib is that because FIFA do not recognise the Olympics as an official tournament, clubs are given the freedom to block their players from turning out at the competition – which is why the squad is largely filled with Under-23 players.
Liverpool were under no obligation to release Salah, and judging by the squad list published on the Egypt Football Association’s official website, they haven’t.
Gharib was desperate to get Salah involved but has clearly been forced to go in a different direction, so the winger will now get the chance to have a full pre-season with Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Salah’s potential inclusion at the Olympics has been a contentious issue for months now. Gharib has consistently gone public with his desire to see his country’s talisman at the tournament, and he recently suggested that Salah himself was keen.
“We got Salah’s approval for playing at the Olympics before sending the request to Liverpool,” Gharib told ON Sport (via the Liverpool Echo). “We are still in discussions with the Premier League club regarding the tournament’s timing.
“Sure, having the experienced players will add more strength to the tournament, but the club may reject the request due to their commitments at the same time of the Olympics.”
Liverpool have never spoken about the issue publicly, but they were always highly unlikely to allow Salah to compete at the Olympics, which starts on 21 July and can run until 7 August.
The new Premier League season only gets underway on 14 August, before which Liverpool will want at least two weeks with all of their players, so it’s not hard to understand why they were never really keen on letting Salah go.