Speculation surrounding Mohamed Salah goes on but Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp have been firm in their insistence he is staying put.
The sighs of relief from the AXA Training Centre shortly after 11 p.m. on Friday will be audible.
Another day closer to the September 1 transfer deadline and Liverpool are still having to navigate their way through the deluge of ‘updates’ surrounding the future of Mohamed Salah.
For his part, Jurgen Klopp considers the matter closed, revealing as much in the aftermath of Sunday’s pulsating and last-gasp turnaround against Newcastle; a game which saw Salah claim the match-winning assist to two-goal hero Darwin Nunez. “The story hasn’t ended? For me, it has,” Klopp told Sky Sports on Sunday.
It’s been a busy few days of dismissals and rejections for the Liverpool manager where Salah’s future is concerned. After initially attempting to shut down talk in his Friday press conference, by insisting the No.11 was “100% committed”, the boss was also asked about the topic in his pre-match chat with Sky Sports.
“Mo is a super experienced player and 100% committed to us here, to the club. No, I don’t worry about [him leaving] to be honest,” Klopp said.
The public message is crystal clear: Mo Salah is not for sale. The private utterances have been even more forthright behind the scenes, even if the nature of the Saudi Arabian transfer deadline – which reportedly closes on September 7 – is a cause for unease at Liverpool and across European football as a whole.
After reports of a ‘Monday deadline’ from Saudi Arabian media passed without incident, there was further speculation on Wednesday about an ‘unbelievable offer’ for both club and player. Liverpool insists the situation is unchanged and if there is a figure Saudi Pro League champions Al-Ittihad are prepared to bid for Salah, it has yet to reach the Reds’ negotiating table.
Salah himself was training at the AXA Centre as normal on Wednesday, going through his pre-Aston Villa routines with minimum fuss after enjoying a day off on Monday by spending a few hours at a museum in London.
If this is a player who will agitate to leave, as we have been told, he is most certainly leaving it late. Contrary to speculation that Salah will make it clear he wants to leave after six of the most decorated years, his behavior speaks volumes about the situation.
Sources close to Salah have refused to be drawn either way on the speculation and while the player’s representative shut down initial talk of a move earlier this month, the agent Ramy Abbas has been conspicuous by his silence in recent days.
But with just a handful of days left of the window from Liverpool’s perspective, a sale – regardless of the size of any transfer fee – would be viewed dimly in the court of public opinion for both the club and its ownership as far as the worldwide fanbase goes.
There is, of course, the theory that Ittihad knows quite well they will be unable to secure one of the most famous footballers on the planet inside the final hours of the European transfer window and are, in effect, greasing the wheels for a move in a year instead.
By then, Salah will be 32 and inside the final year of a deal that currently places him as the most well-paid player of all time at Liverpool. There will be a decision to be made by the club then. For now, it appears to be a much more straightforward call.
And it’s interesting to note that much of the Saudi Pro League’s collective deals this summer have been made public way before they are anywhere near advanced, which strengthens the idea that the league’s officials, as a whole, are more than happy to talk to friendly journalists hungry for the latest updates long before anything concrete develops.
Sources in the Middle East who have dealt with teams in the Saudi Pro League this summer have told the ECHO of the challenge of working with the staff at clubs who “talk about everything” and are “looking to make something out of nothing”. That, perhaps, could explain why Salah speculation has refused to die down, despite the repeated assertions of Klopp.
Add in the fact that Luis Diaz, Alisson Becker, Ibrahima Konate, and Joe Gomez have been named in connection with shock moves to the Middle East of late after seeing Jordan Henderson and Fabinho move to Al Ettifaq and Ittihad, respectively, and it’s fair to assume the Saudi Pro League view Liverpool as either a soft touch or a club who are more malleable to their transfer ambitions.
Klopp has never been keen to keep a wantaway player at the club against his wishes and with the sorts of wages on offer enough to make the eyes water for stars of the European game, it’s easy to see why the Reds might be viewed as easier to do business with.
Liverpool, in effect, are sitting ducks if their big stars can have their heads turned before the club’s key decision-makers have had the opportunity to turn away any official offers. The Reds are not alone on that score across Europe but this, it seems, is the new reality they must get used to in this curious, changing landscape of the world game.
This, though, is one deal they cannot countenance making. As the most integral member of a five-man frontline that has the firepower to blast Liverpool to something special this season, the exit of the ‘Egyptian King’ is simply unthinkable.
11.01 pm on Friday cannot come soon enough, you suspect.