Liverpool have made their position on Mohamed Salah absolutely clear. No amount of money from Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad will convince them to offload their star forward – a stance that was reinforced when an offer worth up to £150million was received on transfer deadline day.
Jurgen Klopp doubled down on the club’s official stance on Sunday, saying that if a major bid comes in this week before the Saudi transfer deadline of 5pm ET on Thursday, Liverpool will again reject it. “Yes,” said Klopp, when asked directly if Al Ittihad would be turned away.
With the added money and Salah likely to enter the final year of his Anfield contract next summer, though, there will come a point when turning down more offers means playing to the crowd rather than doing it — the on-and-off pitch may have already reached that point. , because even for a player of Salah’s undoubted star quality and value to the team there comes a time when financial realities must hit home.
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Liverpool and Klopp are playing it a simple equation at the moment. Salah is their best player, their goal-scoring talisman, and even if they charge an incredible fee for the former Chelsea and AS Roma forward, he is virtually irreplaceable.
If Liverpool have the benefit of a full transfer window to replace Salah, they will find it almost impossible. Trying to do so at the trade deadline, or if they receive another bid this week after the window closes, could doom their hopes of success this season less than a month after it begins.
A £150 million ($190 million) offer for a 31-year-old forward with two years remaining on his contract is a staggering offer to turn down. From a football perspective, it makes sense, but whether it stacks up from a business perspective is debatable.
Fenway Sports Group (FSG) has been accused of putting business first and football second in the past, but Liverpool’s owners have backed the wishes of Klopp and the club’s supporters by rejecting Al Ittihad’s bid for Salah.
Liverpool have made a statement that they will not be forced to part ways with a player who has elevated himself with the Anfield legends during his six years at the club, but Salah will have to be helped by his decision to return this season. The club returned to the Champions League and won the Premier League again. If they can’t achieve these two objectives, keeping Salah will be a gamble that will fail to pay off.
In January 2018, Liverpool conceded defeat in their bid to retain Philippe Coutinho, accepting a £142 million transfer offer from Barcelona for the attacking midfielder. Coutinho was Liverpool’s best player, another talisman, but the deal fell through and the transfer fee was reinvested in Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
These three deals proved to be the catalyst for Liverpool’s period of success under Klopp, as the team delivered every major trophy in the competition from 2018 to 2022. A seemingly ill-advised transfer of a star player turned out to be one of the best decisions the club has ever made. .
Salah is the bigger, brighter star on Merseyside than Coutinho, but he’s also 31. Coutinho was 25 when he left Anfield at Camp Nou and theoretically reached his peak years, but Salah spent his prime at Liverpool and won everything. There is victory. What else could he offer to justify his decision to reject Al Ittihad’s offer of a huge transfer fee?
Much of Liverpool’s decision depends on their status as one of the biggest clubs in the world and the message it would send if they accepted that even their best players are available to the highest bidder. The world’s top clubs don’t part with their best players unless it’s on their terms, so Liverpool had to project their strength by rejecting Al Ittihad’s approach. Yet if Al Ittihad come back with a £175m offer or go as high as £200m before Thursday’s deadline, it could be a tipping point where the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term pain.
Liverpool banked £54.5m in Champions League prize money last season after reaching the round of 16. By winning the competition, Manchester City received £117.2m, so the sheer enormity of the Salah offer is evident.
Yes, Klopp will be without his best forward this season if Salah is let go — Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota have all shown goalscoring ability in his absence — but that money could be an opportunity to invest. Provide the foundation for another great team at Anfield.
This is why it might be too good to turn down another Al Ittihad offer. Business sense also makes football sense, and Salah’s ultimate contribution to Liverpool could be a financial windfall that secures a golden future.