James Milner was not the name that most Liverpool fans were hoping for when it was announced earlier this summer that a first team player had penned a new contract, even though he will have a vital role to play once the new campaign begins.
It was not that Milner signing up for another 12 months was a bad thing — not least with the five subs rule set to come into play in the Premier League — but more that it was not news of an extension for Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah.
On that particular front, there has still been no progress, but Liverpool have been very busy off the pitch making sensible transfers and important long-term decisions elsewhere.
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Under contract for another three years, Diogo Jota would not seem the most obvious player to come to next in terms of contracts — both Thiago Alcântara and Joël Matip have deals until 2024, for instance, while Salah, Roberto Firmino and Naby Keïta are all 2023 expiries — but he is, according to Goal, ‘in line’ for a new contract and among the next group of priorities for Julian Ward.
Harvey Elliott is another one who would not appear to be an immediate priority — he signed a new long-term deal less than a year ago — but he is another who falls into the same ‘reward’ category, and Liverpool are lining up an improved deal for him as well.
FSG might not pay the mega money out, but they are willing to incentivise deals heavily and make sure that progress means an incremental rise — at least to the point of Salah’s level where the wage structure begins to creak.
Keïta and Joe Gomez are on the list for new deals, too. Gomez has been for some time and Liverpool intend to open talks with him once pre-season begins. That makes a huge amount of sense, with Gomez having a big future ahead of him. He has only just turned 25 and as a centre-back, his future could be even brighter than his past.
With his peak years ahead of him, and with a promising few performances at the end of last season, Gomez is one that Liverpool want to keep for as long as he wants to remain at the club.
He will need minutes guaranteed, but those should come next season when the fixture schedule continues to be incredibly intense, while Joël Matip’s ability to stay fit was excellent last year but there is no guarantee of that remaining moving forwards.
The one contract that Liverpool fans will want to see done the most is Salah. Signing the Egyptian up for an extension seems some way off happening at the moment, but that would make the biggest difference to what this summer transfer window looks like.
Yet in Jota, Elliott, Keïta and Gomez, it makes a great deal of sense to get them tied down too. Salah might be the most important in terms of a one-off player who would be incredibly difficult to replace, but in terms of the bigger picture and the wider plan, getting those who are not obvious priorities sorted out with increased terms is also hugely significant.
All four of those names could be stalwarts of the Liverpool squad over the next three to four years, and in the case of Elliott at the very least, likely well beyond that.
As Liverpool plan for the future, things are bright — with, or perhaps ultimately without, a contract agreement with Mohamed Salah.
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