Jamie Carragher believes it would take "massive money" to prise Mohamed Salah away from Liverpool, but admits it may already be "a year or two too late" for the Egyptian to fulfil a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.
The forward gave an exclusive interview to Madrid-based newspaper AS at the weekend in which he expressed his admiration for both Spanish clubs, fuelling speculation around his long-term future.
When questioned on remaining at Liverpool, Salah said: "That's a tough one, but right now I can say that everything is in the club's hands."
The winger, who also admitted he was frustrated at not being named captain against Midtjylland, was then asked about the possibility of joining Barcelona or Real Madrid, to which he replied: "Who knows what will happen in the future, but right now I am focused on winning the Premier League and the Champions League with Liverpool again."
Salah has scored 13 goals in as many Premier League appearances for Liverpool this season, and featured prominently as the club ended their 30-year wait for a first league title earlier this year.
But speaking on Monday Night Football, Jamie Carragher believes the time has passed for the player to make a sensational move to one of La Liga's elite clubs.
"I don't think it's a debate as much now as it was a few years ago," he told Sky Sports.
"Even when Manchester United were top dogs and Cristiano Ronaldo went to Real Madrid it did still feel like a step up because Real Madrid is Real Madrid, but now I just think the two Spanish giants have fallen so far, I really do.
"Salah has got two and a half years to go on his contract. I'm not really looking at it as too much of a problem because Real Madrid spent a lot of money on Eden Hazard when he was at that age of 28 or 29. Salah is just getting to that age now and I just think it's that year or two too late.
"When you go and spend real big money on someone you want them to be about 25 or 26 so you're getting real value for them. I think if he did go - and I don't see it - it would be massive money for Liverpool, but I just think the time has gone because of the age."
Nev: Liverpool won't be messed around
Salah has scored 110 goals in 173 appearances since joining Liverpool from Roma for £34m in June 2017, and his current contract at Anfield runs until 2023.
Gary Neville lauded the player's killer instinct in front of goal, but expressed little surprise at speculation over Salah's future resurfacing.
"I thought Salah would always leave Liverpool," he added. "I said it a couple of years ago and maybe it was a bit premature at the time to say I think he'll leave in the next 18 months. I always had the feeling that he'd want to go, explore playing in a different country and that he would have aspirations to do so.
"So, it doesn't surprise me [about the stories]. The reason I've always chosen Salah over Sadio Mane is because he's cold-blooded. Mane's a team player, who you know would always put the team first, but Salah is cold-blooded and that's not a negative.
"It makes Liverpool vicious as a team and he's the type who will just go for it again and again and again and again, and he won't stop.
"That's probably why the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, whoever it is that's after him is probably in his ear.
"He's got two-and-a-half years left on his contract. I don't think Liverpool, at this moment in time, certainly won't be forced to sell. They won't be messed around. They've got a strength and an authority now with Jurgen Klopp there that they can sit there and relax a little bit.
"But there will come a decision in the next six months, 18 months about what to do with him because if he's not going to sign a new contract then you'd obviously have to let his contract run down, which they won't do, or they'll cash in and see an opportunity to bring in someone else."
Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero believes Salah is open to the possibility of leaving Liverpool but says it is "almost impossible" for Real Madrid to afford the Egypt international in the current financial climate.
"Here in Spain we see this as a way of Salah not closing the door for Barcelona and even Real Madrid," Montero told Sky Sports News.
"It is very well known that [Barcelona manager] Ronald Koeman needs some players. For example, he has asked for [Manchester City defender] Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay from Lyon.
"In the case of Real Madrid, it is a difficult situation right now economically because, although Mo Salah is an extremely good player and of course Real Madrid will need his goals with Karim Benzema, it is almost impossible.
"For instance, yesterday Real Madrid held their annual assembly. They've recognised that they've lost 107m euros because of the coronavirus crisis and after taxes, they finished the year with only 313,000 euros, which is of course a little amount of money when you count that Real Madrid's budget every single year is over 800-850m euros."