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Two-year countdown: Mane, Salah among contracts expiring in 2023

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What do Mohamed Salah, Raheem Sterling, N'Golo Kante, Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jordan Henderson all have in common?

Those players include Salah, Henderson, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Speculation about the future of these players is likely to dominate the headlines over the next year, but the most significant stage in football contracts has become the two-year countdown; it's when the balance of power between player and club is evenly split.

Salah, Mane, Firmino, Van Dijk and Henderson have all been crucial cogs in Liverpool's recent successes, but the dilemma facing Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards is deciding how long they will continue to contribute to that level.

And that's why the two-year countdown is the most important stage for all players and clubs.

Get instant access At 27, Fabinho is young enough to be pretty much guaranteed a new contract because of his age and importance to Jurgen Klopp's team, but Salah, Mane and Firmino are all 29, Van Dijk is 30 and yet to play competitively after almost a year out with a cruciate ligament injury, while Henderson, who missed 15 games since February with a groin injury, is 31.

As my ESPN colleague Gab Marcotti wrote this week, there is an array of star-studded talent, including Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo, now less than 12 months away from becoming free agents if they fail to agree to new contracts before July 2022.
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