Mohamed Salah can prove he’s worth Liverpool pay hike in battle with Man City’s key man

Klopp previews Liverpool's Premier League clash against Man City

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Liverpool star Mohamed Salah can further strengthen his claim for a bumper new contract in Sunday’s Premier League clash against Manchester City. Jurgen Klopp’s side host Pep Guardiola’s defending champions in a clash which could see one of the title rivals replace Chelsea at the top of the table.

Salah goes into the game in deadly form, having fired five goals in six top-flight appearances this season, as well as another three in Liverpool’s opening two Champions League games.

The 29-year-old is likely to be up against one of City’s form players, with Joao Cancelo having impressed for Guardiola’s side at left-back so far this season.

And Salah has the perfect chance to show he is worth the £500,000 per week he is understood to want to extend his Liverpool contract.

Cancelo has been an ever present in a City defence which hasn’t conceded a Premier League goal since the 1-0 defeat to Spurs on the opening day of the campaign.

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He has been more noted for his attacking qualities, with the 27-year-old’s cultured right foot helping to carve open opposition defences.

But the other side of Cancelo’s game is likely to be tested to the full by Salah on Sunday.

The 27-year-old’s defending can leave a little to be desired, and his surges forward could leave space in behind which Salah would be perfectly poised to exploit.

Guardiola may have to reign in his makeshift left-back’s attacking instincts, or turn to another option such as playing Aymeric Laporte or Nathan Ake at left-back.

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Either way, Salah can stake a big claim for a pay rise in a game which, even at this early stage in the season, could have a huge bearing on the title race.

The battle to be crowned champions is expected to be decided by fine margins this season, with Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea and Manchester United all having strengthened over the summer.

It’s why Guardiola sent his side out with such a brave attacking game plan against Chelsea last weekend, and why Liverpool will need Salah to continue his terrific form on Sunday.

The Reds’ owners FSG are understandably keen to avoid smashing the club’s structure by giving in too easily to Salah’s demands, with the player wanting half a million a week, according to The Mirror.

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But as Jamie Carragher pointed out this week, they could be left ruing a “serious mistake” if Salah were to leave for free when his contract expired at the end of next season.

“Worryingly, it is possible Salah will leave on a Bosman free transfer,” Carragher wrote in his column for The Telegraph. “It would be a serious mistake to let the situation drag on that far.”

The former Liverpool defender said “exceptional players” like Salah “warrant being treated as an exception”, adding: “Everything about Salah suggests that unless he suffers serious injury he is in such perfect physical shape and such a professional on and off the pitch, he will still be producing until he is 33, and probably for a couple of years beyond that.”

Sunday’s game at Anfield pits the Premier League’s best attacking team so far this season against the division’s meanest defence.

In a clash between two exceptional teams, Salah can prove once again that he is indeed an exceptional player.

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