Neil Jones has claimed that Liverpool still expect to complete the sale of Fabinho to Al-Ittihad in the near future, despite reports of a bizarre complication which could make the transfer more awkward.
On Sunday, the Daily Express reported that the midfielder’s £40m move could be jeopardised because of Saudi Arabia’s ban on ‘dangerous and aggressive dogs’.
The 29-year-old has two French bulldogs, which could potentially be classed as pitbulls and duly forbidden from being brought into the Middle Eastern country.
Whether that’d be enough to scupper the proposed move remains to be seen, and even a reliable and experienced reporter like Jones admitted that it’d be an unprecedented circumstance to collapse a transfer, although he added that Liverpool still expect it to go through.
Speaking exclusively to Empire of the Kop’s Substack, the journalist said: “Talking about dogs in Saudi Arabia is not something that’s crossed my radar, I have to admit!
“All I can say is what’s happened – a deal has been agreed between the clubs, Liverpool and Al-Ittihad, for Fabinho, and Liverpool are expecting the deal to get done.
“There’s obviously a hold-up of some sort, whether it’s over payment plans or dangerous dogs or whatever! We’ll have to wait and see, but these sorts of stories often emerge when there’s some kind of a delay in a deal or a delay in an official announcement.
“It would be a new one, wouldn’t it, to cost a transfer?! I don’t think I’ve heard of anything like that. We’ve heard of U-turns and clubs and players changing their hearts.
“Liverpool have been involved in a few of those with Nabil Fekir and Steven Gerrard. I can remember even longer ago Lee Bowyer looking like he’d sign from Leeds and Liverpool pulled the plug at the last minute. We’ll have to wait and see.
“It would be one of those ones that would go in a quiz or listicles on the strangest ever transfer collapses!”
As Jones outlined, it’s not unprecedented for proposed transfers to collapse at the 11th hour for whatever reason, although Liverpool fans probably wouldn’t have expected dog breeds to be a reason for potentially putting Fabinho’s move to Al-Ittihad into doubt.
It could yet happen that there’s no issue with the midfielder bringing his French bulldogs into Saudi Arabia, in which case the deal will probably get done unless another complication arises elsewhere.
If the transfer doesn’t go through for any reason, it’d mean that the Reds still have an experienced natural defensive midfielder in their squad and could potentially negate the need to bring one in this summer.
However, Fabinho would then have missed out on the bulk of Liverpool’s pre-season and could potentially be undercooked for the start of the 2023/24 campaign, which’d be far from an ideal scenario.
Whatever the hold-up may be which is delaying the mooted deal with Al-Ittihad, Reds fans can only wait and see if it’s enough to prevent the 29-year-old from leaving Anfield for Saudi Arabia.