Al-Ittihad are from finished in their quest to prise Mohamed Salah away from Liverpool after seeing a £150m offer for the Egyptian star rejected by the Merseysiders on transfer deadline day.
The Saudi Arabian Pro-League provides a new home for several former Reds stars, with three of them leaving Anfield for the cash-rich Gulf State this summer alone. While Roberto Firmino departed as a free agent at the end of his deal, Liverpool received combined £52m fees for the sales of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.
Saudi Arabia also now homes Sadio Mane, while Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler both now manage there, albeit the latter in the Saudi second tier.
Now the chances of Salah joining them are an extremely hot topic of debate -and an extremely worrying one at that for Liverpool. The Egyptian king is the biggest name in Arabic football, bar none. And with money seemingly no object in their quest to get a deal done, they are reportedly stopping at nothing to bring Salah to Saudi.
To that end, Al-Ittihad have raised verbal offers several times over, starting from £60m, before presenting Liverpool with a formal £150m bid on Friday. Jurgen Klopp is adamant the Reds cannot sell and has advised FSG to reject the deal at all costs.
However, there remains concerns that Salah, despite his public commitment to Liverpool and not agitating for the switch, remains keen on the move.
Now it is claimed they are preparing a new £200m offer to Liverpool for Salah. The move will set a new world-record fee, slightly topping the £197m PSG paid for Neymar in August 2017.
Furthermore, Al-Ittihad are prepared to also make Salah the best-paid sportsman on the planet.
Klopp makes feelings clear on Mohamed Salah Saudi speculation
That record currently is held by Cristiano Ronaldo, who earns a ludicrous £1.3m a week at Al Nassr. Al-Ittihad plan to top that salary – and on a three-year deal to boot – if they can persuade Salah to move.
The money on offer is, quite simply, ridiculous.
Klopp, however, remains calm. Addressing the speculation on Friday, he commented: “From my point of view I see absolutely nothing (to worry about). Mo is super committed, really in training fully there, in the leadership meetings this week, he is fully in.
“I have to deal with facts, and my fact is ‘all good, we are here and everything is fine’.”
Behind the scenes, though, Klopp must be fearful that, ultimately, FSG will have a breaking point with Salah. And with Saudi window still having another five days to run, Liverpool are not out of the woods yet.
“I am not 100% sure if we know all of them who got approached because they (the Saudi Arabians) thought about pretty much everything,” said the Reds boss. “That’s how it is.
“I have not a lot to say about it. We just sit here and do our thing and nothing has changed. We felt obviously the differences in prices but that’s not a Saudi thing, there are other clubs who pay a lot of money. Then all of a sudden it’s ‘wow, that’s the new price tag, that’s interesting’. That’s normal.
“Besides when Fab and Hendo left, we didn’t feel the real influence, although that obviously had a clear influence (on us). I really think we thought that was possible and we were fine with that.”
Mohamed Salah record-breaking approach branded a ‘cheat code on FIFA’
With Al-Ittihad having until Thursday 7 September to finalise a move, Liverpool still face a nervous few days to see if they can retain the services of their 187-goal forward.
Discussing the ‘money-no-object’ approach from the Saudis, the Daily Mail’s Lewis Steele claims their approach to signing Salah is like a FIFA cheat code.
“It’s ridiculous money, and some of the younger viewers might know this, it’s like on the video game FIFA,” he told the It’s All Kicking Off Transfer Show. You can unlock a cheat code that gives you pretty much unlimited funds. That’s basically what Al-Ittihad have got here. They’re saying £200m but there’s no reason they can’t go higher than that.
“They could go to astronomical figures which they already are, it could just blow the whole thing out of proportion. For Liverpool to have the summer they’ve had and then have £200m on top of that, they would be sitting very comfortably financially.”
Steele reckons the sale of Salah would have benefits and would help Liverpool rebuild their squad.
“Yes it might hit them the next six months but they could make a play at some of the best players in the world. £200m could get you pretty much anyone in world football. I’m not saying they would go and pay £200m for Mbappe, but they would have money to completely rebuild the squad.”
Were Salah to join Al-Ittihad, he would join the likes of N’Golo Kante and Karim Benzema in Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad.