Salah and Saudi: When does logic take precedence over ambition in the short term?

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In the end, the Saudi Arabian transfer window shut without much drama. For the powers that be at Liverpool and the club’s fans, it was a welcome conclusion; Mo Salah was staying at Anfield. Liverpool had managed to fend off interest from Al Ittihad despite being offered what potentially could have been a world-record transfer fee. Instead, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool stood firm. How wise was that? 

A season too soon for Premier League glory?   

Granted, it makes absolute sense in the short-term as the Merseysiders aim to win the league. To do that, Liverpool naturally need to hold on to match-winners like Salah. As for the likelihood of that happening this season, the latest outright winner English Premier League odds price the Reds at a somewhat speculative 13/2. This higher price is on account of Manchester City’s recent dominance and the emergence of an energised Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta. In short, there are teams in the league who you could argue are better placed to challenge for the title than the Reds as things stand.  

Of course, it should be said that the club has started the season well and, at the time of writing during the first international break of the campaign, only a draw at Stamford Bridge has stopped them from enjoying a 100% record after four games. Notwithstanding the fact that Klopp’s men have been able to negotiate a tricky start against teams like Chelsea, Newcastle, and Aston Villa, it’s impossible to say whether or not they will have the consistency to win the league as a new group of summer recruits look to bed in.  

In other words, it may be too soon for this current Liverpool team which is a work in progress, albeit a very promising one. This takes us back to Liverpool turning down Al Ittihad’s initial bid of £100 million for Salah which would potentially have risen to £150 million with add-ons. The offer from Al Ittihad was made over the phone to Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan who made it clear that Salah wasn’t for sale.  

Following that phone call, it was suggested that Al Ittihad would make a final £200 million bid before the window closed which never materialised – quite possibly due to Liverpool’s insistence that Salah was going to remain at Anfield at all costs. However, here’s where it gets interesting as it is believed that the relationship between Liverpool and Al Ittihad remains very good.  

The future will come soon enough  

The assumption is that Al Ittihad weren’t going to push their luck now for fear of having the lines of communication with Liverpool permanently closed. Similarly, Liverpool’s diplomatic tone toward Al Ittihad suggests that they wouldn’t mind a bid of this nature coming closer to the end of Salah’s contract.  For all intents and purposes, that could be in 12 months’ time as Salah will only have a year left on his current Liverpool deal which expires in 2025. 

It’s an option Liverpool will surely be forced to consider at the latest by the next summer window with a year then left on his terms in Merseyside.

With further investment sure to be needed in the squad in 2024 and ongoing questions over whether our Egyptian King can maintain his form deep into his 30s, an exit next year could be all but inevitable.

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