Does Mo Salah Have Aubameyang Syndrome?

Mo Salah of Liverpool FC

Mohamed Salah’s poor form at the start of the 2022/2023 season has led many to wonder whether the forward has ‘Aubameyang syndrome’, posing the question does the new contract Salah signed in early July have a direct correlation to his downturn in performance?

Former Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang experienced a massive drop off in form after signing a three-year contract extension in August 2020, off the back of single-handedly leading the Gunners to an FA Cup win. The striker put pen to paper on a deal worth a reported £350 000 per week.

Former Arsenal Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Arsenal’s FA Cup success in 2020
Former Arsenal Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Arsenal’s FA Cup success in 2020.

Following the new deal, Aubameyang’s time at Arsenal took a turn for the worse, as the Gabonese International only managed to bag 14 league goals in his final two Premier League seasons with the Gunners.

Aubameyang may currently be the player with the highest profile to have seen their form dip following a big contract, but he most certainly is not the only one.

Danny Drinkwater completed a move to Chelsea in 2017, a year after playing a pivotal role in Leicester City’s unlikely title success in the 2015/2016 campaign. The midfielder saw his wages increase dramatically, penning a five-year deal reported to be worth £110 000 per week.

Drinkwater went on to make a measly 23 appearances for Chelsea over five years, leaving the Club during the recent summer transfer window. The midfielder was also sent out on several loan spells, failing to impress in any of them.

Dele Alli has experienced one of the biggest career falls in recent history. The 26-year-old, now at Besiktas in Turkey, was one of the hottest teenage properties in Europe during the mid 2010s.

The midfielder joined Spurs in 2015 and immediately established himself as one of, if not the best youngster in the Premier League, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year in his first two campaigns in North London. The then-teenager banged in 28 goals and laid on a further 16 assists across that period.

Alli signed a six-year contract extension in 2018 worth a reported £100 000 per week. His form since then has been well documented. Alli’s transfer value, as per Transfermarkt, dropped from a whopping €100million at the time he signed the extension to a disappointing €30million in 2021, and €16million currently.

The ex-Everton player contributed to less goals and assists in his final five seasons at Spurs than he did in his first two campaigns in North London, despite making 52 more appearances in that time.

Although they may have taken different paths in doing so, former Arsenal duo Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez are also guilty of having their career decline rapidly after penning a mega-money deal.

Özil penned the deal in 2018 after four seasons with the Gunners where the German playmaker displayed class, scoring 23 goals and laying on 42 assists in 116 appearances. However, the end of Arsene Wenger’s tenure as Arsenal boss spelt the beginning of the end for Özil in North London as well. The Arsenal managers that followed in Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta both didn’t fancy the World Cup winner, citing his attitude and unwillingness to defend as the main reasons. Özil left Arsenal for free in January 2021, joining boyhood club Fenerbahçe. Alexis Sanchez joined rivals Manchester United in a swop deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan join the Gunners. The deal saw Sanchez become the highest paid player in the PL after a stellar spell in North London, reportedly earning an astonishing £500 000 per week.

However, Sanchez later revealed that he regretted joining the Red Devils on the first day he arrived, saying he wish he hadn’t left the Gunners. The Chilean was hounded out 18 months later after a very disappointing time in Manchester. Despite winning Serie A with Inter in 2020/2021, Sanchez’s career has taken a downturn since signing the massive contract with Man United.

Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, formerly of Arsenal.
Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, formerly of Arsenal.

Mo Salah, who signed a contract extension worth a reported £350 000 per week, is in jeopardy of following a similar path to these players should his performances not improve. The Egyptian superstar has begun this campaign in extremely slow fashion given his standards. Liverpool fans will be hoping an upturn in Salah’s form will act as the catalyst to spur on the rest of the team, propelling them from the slump Van Dijk acknowledged they’re experiencing.