Liverpool FC have refused star player Mohamed Salah's "strong desire" to represent his country, Egypt, at the Olympics hosted in Tokyo later this month, according to the manager of Egypt's under-23s team, Shawky Gharib.
Gharib told MBC Masr that the English club refused the pleas by the Egyptian Football Association and Salah himself to play at the Olympics. "All negotiations with Liverpool and Galatasaray have not been successful, as the two clubs want the two players with them in the coming period," he said, referring to both Salah and Mostafa Mohamed who plays for the Turkish club.
"I tried many, many times with Liverpool, as did the Egypt FA, to persuade them to let Salah be a part of the Olympic team but they refused completely," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"Mohamed wanted to play the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. He talked with me, I did my best to bring him. Salah was a key player in my Olympic plans. But the club refused – we need to move on."
The main English-language website dedicated to Egyptian football news, KingFut explained that "each nation is allowed to have three overage players [over 23 years of age] and [Egypt] were hoping that Salah would be able to join them."
"However, after negotiating with Liverpool the club refused to let him go because the tournament interferes with the start of the new season."
Egypt qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo last year following their U-23 AFCON triumph in 2019. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the games were postponed to 2021.
The Pharaohs will be competing in Group C, dubbed "the Group of death" which also includes Argentina, Spain and Australia.
Salah was not the only Liverpool player barred from taking part in the Olympics, with the club also refusing to permit Ibrahima Konate and Takumi Minamino from representing France and hosts Japan, respectively.