Mohamed Salah has arrived in Spain for treatment on the shoulder injury which could rule him out of this summer’s World Cup.
Usually open, smiling and friendly, the Liverpool forward cut a much more downbeat and dejected figure as he walked through the airport after touching down on Wednesday.
With a hood over his head, Salah walked quickly through arrivals as he refused to answer questions from a Spanish TV reporter, who followed him as he quickly walked away.
The reporter for El Chiringuito TV asks Salah in English questions such as ‘Are you ready for the World Cup?’, ‘Do you think Ramos (hurt you) intentionally in the Champions League final?’, and ‘Is it possible you will play for Real Madrid next season?’ – but got no answer.
Even when the questioner changes tack and asks a more sympathetic question ‘How are you? A lot of people are worried about your injury’ – Salah ignores him.
Salah’s silence will do nothing to soothe the worries of Egypt fans, who have been pinning hopes of success at their first World Cup since 1990 firmly on Salah.
He scored 44 goals last season in a brilliant first year at Liverpool, to earn several Player of the Year awards and send the Reds to the Champions League final.
There, however, the season ended on a bad note as he was forced off after half an hour with a shoulder injury following a foul by Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos. The La Liga side went on to win 3-1.
The only crumb of comfort for Egyptians is that Salah did not have his arm in a sling at the airport, as he did on Sunday when Liverpool flew home from Kiev.
Eagle-eyed fans however will note Salah is pulling his suitcase with his left arm, rather than the right – the one injured on Saturday.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp initially indicated Salah could miss the World Cup – which starts in three weeks – but the player tweeted on Sunday that he remained ‘confident’ of being available for Egypt’s World Cup campaign in Russia.
The Egyptian federation said Salah began his rehabilitation programme on Sunday, and was in ‘high spirits’ and ‘determined to return quickly to the ranks of the team’.
He will receive treatment in Spain, accompanied by the president of the Egyptian federation, the national team doctor and Liverpool medics.
Ramos’ foul meanwhile – which saw him grab Salah’s arm and drag him to the floor – has drawn the ire of football fans around the world, who accuse him of deliberately injuring the player.