Ian Doyle gives his take as Mohamed Salah transfer links over move from Liverpool to Saudi Arabia intensify.
So continues the great Saudi Pro League fishing expedition.
Throughout this week, stories have emerged out of Saudi Arabia linking Al-Ittihad with a move for Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, each slightly different to the next as if attempting to edge the Egyptian that bit nearer to an Anfield exit.
Of course, none of this is anything new. The Saudi Pro League champions were first claimed to have an interest earlier this month, which prompted Salah’s representative Ramy Abbas Issa to reaffirm the player’s commitment to Liverpool.
But the pressure from the Middle East has been increasing daily. On Thursday there was a claim on social media from one self-proclaimed transfer news account that Salah has decided he wants to leave Liverpool, which prompted former Reds defender and close friend of the Egyptian, Dejan Lovren, to reply with a message stating “stop lying”.
The ECHO understands that while the interest from Saudi Arabia is genuine, Liverpool have not yet received any official word from Al-Ittihad or any other club regards Salah.
In any case, with barely a week to go until the transfer window closes for the Reds, any offer for Salah will almost certainly have come too late, Liverpool having nowhere near enough time to identify and recruit a new right winger. If finding a defensive midfielder has proven troublesome, how difficult would it be to replace Salah in seven days?
Given the Egyptian will be occupied with the African Cup of Nations during the New Year, a move in January appears just as unlikely.
But Salah won’t be at Liverpool forever. The winger will be 32 next summer, and it may well he decides to follow former team-mates Fabinho – who is already at Al-Ittihad – and Jordan Henderson for one final major pay day. And with the player also then entering the final year of his contract, Fenway Sports Group and Jurgen Klopp may accept it makes financial sense to cash in on their prized asset.
With Salah having last year negotiated a three-year deal that made him Liverpool’s highest-ever paid player, it’s not as if he isn’t being handsomely rewarded for his endeavours at present. However, the eye-watering amounts on offer from Saudi Arabia would blow such wages out of the water – and by some distance. One report has claimed Al-Ittihad want to make Salah the highest-paid player of all time.
And don’t expect them to give up. Not at all. The Saudi Pro League transfer deadline isn’t until six days after the Premier League window shuts, with top-flight clubs fearful of being exposed to late big-money offers. However, Salah himself might find it somewhat curious Al-Ittihad value him at only £60m, as was reported earlier this month.