Mo Salah is considering quitting the Egyptian national team due to his unhappiness over what has happened in Chechnya, where the team was based during the World Cup at Russia 2018, a source close to the Liverpool forward has told CNN.
Last season Salah became an international star — ranked alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. — due to his goalscoring feats for Liverpool, who he helped reach the Champions League final.
Salah was injured in that game against Real Madrid and subsequently missed Egypt's opening World Cup match against Uruguay, though he played and scored in the 3-1 defeat by hosts Russia.
But as he struggled for fitness a picture of Salah walking beside Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov became a major talking point at the World Cup. The Egyptian football media team was not immediately available for comment.
Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya since 2004, has stifled any form of dissent, subduing the separatist movement that fought the Russian army for nearly two decades.
Subsequently Kadyrov made Salah an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic.
"Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic! That's right!" the Chechen leader wrote in a social media post. "I gave Mohamed Salah a copy of the order and a pin at a celebratory dinner that I gave in honour of the Egyptian team."
A Russian state-funded news agency RT video shows Salah smiling as Kadyrov gives his speech and pins a badge bearing the Chechen flag to the Egyptian international's shirt.
Salah feels exposed by what has happened in Chechnya, the source told CNN. The Liverpool star doesn't wish to engage in topics beyond football or to be used for anyone's political image.
READ: Salah scores but Russia thumps Egypt
READ: Salah and the hope of 100 million Egyptians
READ: Salah injured as Real Madrid win Champions League final
Egypt's final World Cup game is against Saudi Arabia on Monday. Having lost their other two games, Egypt is unable to qualify for the tournament's knockout stages.