Liverpool cannot "afford" to sell Mohamed Salah after parting with Philippe Coutinho in January but may have to accept the prospect of the in-form Egyptian leaving Anfield if interest emerges from Barcelona and Real Madrid, according to Reds legend Jamie Carragher.
Salah has been in simply spellbinding form for Jurgen Klopp's side so far this season, plundering 27 goals and providing seven assists across all competitions. He became the quickest Liverpool player to reach 20 goals in the Premier League era with another splendid brace against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (4 February), and his performances have perhaps inevitably led to talk of a move to Spain.
The president of the Egyptian FA Hany Abou-Rida expects Real to make an offer for Salah, who was recently named ahead of Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane and Arsenal's new recruit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as African Player of the Year for 2017.
Talk of a move to Los Blancos seems a touch premature at this stage, but former Liverpool captain Carragher has warned the powers that be at Anfield that they cannot sell their prized forward just a few months after allowing Coutinho to join Barcelona, though he knows how hard it is for any club to fend off firm interest from the two La Liga giants.
"Well, fingers crossed [Salah stays with Liverpool]. He's only just arrived so we want to enjoy him for as long as we can," Carragher told talkSPORT. "There's no doubt when you are a player that good, it's not just Liverpool's problem - it's any club's problem if Real Madrid or Barcelona ever come for one of your players.
"Let's not forget [Cristiano] Ronaldo when he was possibly the best player in the world left Manchester United; he left when Manchester United were still playing European Cup finals. It's very difficult, and in some ways you have to sort of just accept it and try and get the biggest fee you can possibly get - as Liverpool did with Coutinho.
"I'd expect Salah to be at the club for the next few years. The contract that he signed and the position Liverpool are in with Coutinho just going, they can't afford to let another big name player go."
Clubs like Real and Barcelona may come in for Salah if he manages to maintain his current level of form, but any interested party might have to shell out more than the £142m ($198.3m) it took to take Coutinho from Anfield. The Egyptian will hope to maintain his wondrous goal-scoring run when Liverpool travel to face Southampton on Sunday.