Mohamed Salah (£12.4m) has tested positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Egypt.
The Egyptian Football Association announced on Friday that the Liverpool midfielder returned a positive test ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Togo but is asymptomatic.
The (translated) statement read:
The medical swab conducted on the mission of our first national football team showed that our international player, Mohamed Salah, the star of Liverpool, was infected with the coronavirus after his test came out positive – although he does not suffer from any symptoms.
[He] was subject to the medical protocol after the coordination of the national team doctor, Dr Muhammad Abu Al-Ola, with his English club, Liverpool, in addition to isolating him in his room and also isolating all contacts.
In a later announcement, Egypt confirmed that a second test backed up the findings of the first:
At the time of writing, Liverpool have yet to confirm the news.
Barring any further developments, Salah will now have to undergo a period of self-isolation and will very likely be unavailable for the Gameweek 9 visit of Leicester City.
The Reds are already injury-ravaged heading into that fixture, with Joe Gomez (£5.4m) joining Virgil van Dijk (£6.3m) on the sidelines and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.4m) also a major doubt with a calf problem.
Sadio Mane (£12.0m) of course tested positive for coronavirus last month, returning to training at Melwood after a 10-day period of self-isolation and featuring for the Reds in the Merseyside derby, 15 days after his initial diagnosis.
Salah could feasibly return in Gameweek 10, then, if a similar timeframe of recovery, isolation and return to training pans out – although there is also the small matter of a flight back to England in between.
We have already seen West Bromwich Albion’s Callum Robinson (£5.5m) withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad after returning a positive test of his own.
Wolves’ Conor Coady (£5.0m) is also self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier on Friday, Ireland revealed that Alan Browne had returned a positive coronavirus test after playing against England – although the Football Association of Ireland added that “no close contacts of the player” had been identified.