Mohamed Salah’s Egypt have been eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations, bringing the uncertainty around his involvement with the team to an end.
Salah picked up a hamstring injury early in the tournament which was later revealed to be worse than first feared, and the decision was made to send the 31-year-old back to Liverpool for the best possible treatment.
While Salah’s exit from the national team camp has divided opinion, Liverpool officials have repeatedly defended the winger and stressed that the plan was always for Salah to return later in the tournament if Egypt make it into the final stages.
Unfortunately for Egypt, their AFCON dream is over after they fell to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the round of 16.
The game finished 1-1 after 120 minutes and was ultimately settled by penalties, with DR Congo goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi-Nzau netting the winning effort.
WILL THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW DELIVER?
With a return to the Egypt camp now firmly out the window, Salah can keep his focus on battling back to full fitness for Liverpool.
A formal return date for Salah has not been given, but it was hoped that he may be fit in time for the AFCON final, which will be held on February 11.
Before that date, Liverpool will face Chelsea, Arsenal and Burnley – three games Liverpool will have planned for without Salah even before his injury – but Salah may return in time to face Brentford on February 17. Ironically, he may have missed that game if he needed a full rest after AFCON.
The Carabao Cup final against Chelsea is next on the schedule on February 25, pitting Salah in a race against time to return against his former employers for the chance to deliver some silverware to Jurgen Klopp’s farewell tour.