Liverpool given deadline to tie Mohamed Salah down to new contract or lose him
Liverpool must tie Mohamed Salah down to a new contract by the end of the season or else rival clubs will start to "test the water" with transfer bids for the sensational forward, according to Charlie Austin.
Salah, 29, has entered the final year-and-a-half of his deal at Anfield and he is yet to agree new terms despite negotiations taking place throughout the second half of 2021.
The Egyptian has been in the form of his life this season with 23 goals and nine assists in 26 appearances in all competitions.
However, Anfield chiefs are concerned about handing a player turning 30 in June a lucrative extension which would almost certainly require a club-record salary.
Salah spoke freely about his contract situation in a fresh interview and insisted he wants to stay on Merseyside without holding Liverpool to "crazy" demands.
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Nonetheless, Queens Park Rangers striker Austin admits time is running out to strike an agreement before Europe's giants begin to circle for the player.
"Even before the end of the transfer window... I honestly think if it's not done by the summer, before the end of this season, then people are going to start looking," Austin told talkSPORT of Salah signing a new contract.
"And then say clubs come in and start throwing silly offers in, £50million... they're not going to sell him for £50million, of course, but just testing the water."
Austin also declared Salah is a superior player to Liverpool greats of old including Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres before telling the club's hierarchy they would be unwise to "let this one go".
"They just haven't. And what he's doing is phenomenal. He's top, he's very top year in, year out.
"I think he is now the top scorer at the moment, top assists. It would be crazy for them (Liverpool) to let this one go.
Salah is currently on international duty with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, but had a chance to discuss his future in an interview with released on Tuesday.
"I've been here for my fifth year now. I know the club very well. I love the fans. The fans love me.
"But with the administration, they have [been] told the situation. It's in their hands."