I have to say I fear Liverpool will lose Mo Salah to Saudi Arabia. I really think he’ll go for it in the six days between now and the Saudi transfer window closing.
He’s an Egyptian and a Muslim who would be going to the birthplace of Islam and to a country which has a maritime border with his own. Let’s also remember he has moved around a lot, with six clubs in 13 years, and has been at Anfield for six years — not man and boy. I suspect he’s thinking, “I’ve won the league. I’ve won the Champions League. I’ve done my bit”.
There’s the money, too, of course. This is not someone being offered 10 or 20 per cent more than his current vast salary. Salah can ask for whatever he wants and the Saudis would give it to him because he’s the one they will want more than any other player.
We are talking about arguably the third greatest Muslim player ever, after Zinedine Zidane and Karim Benzema, and the most popular Muslim player of his generation. He can extend his bank balance and playing career on his own doorstep, with the kind of money that won’t just change his life and his kids’ lives. It will change his great grandkids’ lives.
And then you factor in Liverpool’s attitude to this approach from the Saudis, who will be making their most persuasive representations to Salah. Take Jurgen Klopp’s wishes out of the equation and this is a very dangerous time for Liverpool, who have a treacherous decision to make.
Mohamed Salah is being courted by Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad on deadline day
The Egyptian forward has won the Champions League with Liverpool, appearing in three finals in total
Mail Sport columnist Graeme Souness believes the Liverpool legend will leave the club this summer
The club’s owners are hard-nosed businesspeople who will figure that if Liverpool simply qualify for the Champions League, the merchandise will still fly off the shelves and they’ll still be one of the biggest clubs in the world. The revenues won’t be affected by Salah staying or going.
Those same owners will be thinking, “£150million for a 31-year-old, who might get injured this year? And is he even going to be the same player this year if we refuse him this move?”
Make no mistake, Salah is flirting with the Saudis. Neither he nor one of his representatives has come out and categorically said, “We do not want to go to Saudi Arabia at this time”. If he wanted to stay, someone could have issued a statement to that effect. He is toying with the idea, at the very least, and I think, deep down, he will feel he should go.
The vast majority of Liverpool fans would be understandably aggrieved by that, though this is a sign of what lies ahead for the Premier League. The Saudis have infiltrated every level of British society in the last 50 years, so why not football?
They are the big guys in the Middle East who play second fiddle to no one — not the Qataris and not Abu Dhabi at Manchester City. They want big players, such as Salah, who will make people take notice of them.
To them, the money is neither here nor there because they’ve got so much of it. If Saudi Arabia really wanted Salah, they could find a mechanism to buy Liverpool and transfer him the next day. Mark my words, this is a gravy train which has only just left the station and is a long way from its destination.
That destination is Saudi Arabia hosting the World Cup, having a league as strong as any in Europe and throwing an unimaginable sum of money at it. They have looked at the kudos and prestige which Qatar received for hosting a fantastic World Cup last year and they want a piece of that. Nothing can stop them.
Salah has played for six clubs in the past 13 years but reached talismanic status at the Reds
He helped the Reds end their 30-year wait to be crowned kings of England in 2019-20
We must accept that without complaint because this is what the future of our football looks like and, let’s be honest, it’s what we’ve been doing to other nations for the last decade.
We, the Premier League, have been the biggest guys in the playground — the bullies — taking the best players from Spain, Germany and Italy, who have had to accept the situation. Now, all of a sudden, a giant has walked into that playground. We’re not second to Saudi Arabia, nip and tuck. We’re a country mile behind them in terms of money.
As a Liverpool supporter, the best we can hope for is one more year of Salah. Losing him now would be a crippling problem for the club, who can’t spend that money any time soon without having their trousers taken down. The best of luck with finding a replacement for a player who has scored 20-odd Premier League goals in every season he has been at Anfield. It’s a Harry Kane situation. They’re just not out there.
Salah might be persuaded to stay — and I hope he is, for the sake of the season that lies ahead for Klopp’s team. But if I was a betting man, I’d say he won’t be a Liverpool player for long.
Kane's right to embrace the madness
The images this week of Harry Kane sporting lederhosen were an illustration of what comes with the territory at Bayern Munich, the biggest and most glamorous club in Germany.
I felt something similar when I joined Sampdoria in 1984.
I was leaving Liverpool — the European champions and one of the biggest football clubs in the world — but the media interest was a 10-fold increase on what I’d been used to.
Sampdoria were a club which had been bought by an extremely wealthy man, Paolo Mantovani, who was going to grow the club into a power, which he did.
We lived in a village south of Genoa — Nervi, on the Italian Riviera — and you would get approached in the street or in a coffee shop by people who would just turn up unannounced, looking to get an article out of you.
My team-mate Trevor Francis and I had the use of a motorboat on the Italian Riviera. You didn’t get that kind of opportunity on the Mersey!
They were great times and it looks like Harry is embracing his football adventure, too.
Harry Kane posed in traditional Bavarian lederhosen after his £100m move from Tottenham
Cole move is a strange one...
Chelsea’s decision to spend £45million on Cole Palmer, a 21-year-old with three Premier League starts, strikes me as strange and extremely bold.
It might all come together for Chelsea, who are spending a fortune on players of enormous potential who one day, with a big question mark attached, might be top men for them.
Their supporters, like all others, want instant success. After a miserable season, they will have limited patience and won’t be slow in venting their frustration.
I can see where they’re coming from.
Cole Palmer signed for Chelsea from Manchester City for £45m on transfer deadline day
Kalvin Phillips remains a regular in the England squad but in terms of playing time at Manchester City, he is close to becoming the invisible man.
He’s 27 — an age at which he must be playing football.
He must also realise he’s competing against the very best sitting midfielder in our league and, unless there’s a serious injury to Rodri, he’s looking at being a bit-part player.
He has to be looking for a career away from City.
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