Salah And Saudi: How Liverpool Handle £215 Million Offer Could Change Football

Al-Ittihad are offering a huge fee to secure 'The Egyptian King'
13:00, 06 Sep 2023

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is reportedly set to be the subject of an increased £215 million bid from Al-Ittihad in the Saudi Pro League. Liverpool have already rejected a £150 million offer for the Egypt international’s services but the Saudi giants will not relent and are now preparing a gargantuan final bid. How the Merseyside club respond could be a mile marker for football as a whole going forward.

There are pros and cons to Liverpool doing the deal. Even in today’s vastly inflated market, £215 million is a huge cash injection. Given Liverpool’s ongoing rebuild, that money would certainly help equip them to return to their former spot as Manchester City’s neck-and-neck challengers.


Salah is now 31 years of age and has seen his former strike partners move on. The ‘Egyptian King’ once formed part of Liverpool’s electric, title-winning front three with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Now the other men both play in the Saudi Pro League. Firmino lines up for Al-Ahli while Mane plies his trade for Al-Nassr. Time waits for no man and Salah must wonder how long he can keep going at the level he has grown accustomed to.

The Saudi Pro League offers the most gilded of parachutes for players to float towards the end of their playing careers. £127 million a year is the figure being quoted if Salah does sign for Al-Ittihad. An eye-watering sum and enough to tempt someone of the most steely resolve. With Salah such an icon in his native Egypt that nothing could ever challenge his place in the national side, the idea of an exorbitant sum for an easy life must appeal. 

The importance of faith must be considered too. A number of high-profile Muslim athletes have made the move, including Mane, N’Golo Kante and Karim Benzema. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and the pull of living in an Islamic nation is understood to be a pull for a lot of players. The adaptation necessary in many European leagues is not an issue and players have reported feeling more comfortable playing in a country that shares their faith.

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A golden payday for both club and player. The opportunity for Liverpool to rebuild and Salah to play in a Muslim country and become one of the franchise players of a growing league. You can certainly see why this move would appeal to all involved. But it’s not as simple as that and both parties also have every reason to balk at the transfer.

Salah may be 31 years of age, but he remains one of the finest players in the Premier League. This wouldn’t be a case of a declining footballer jumping before he was pushed. Salah scored 19 Premier League goals last season and registered 12 assists. He played in every single league game for Liverpool. Even as the team faltered around him, Salah’s output never dropped. He has started this season with two goals and two assists from his first four game. This is a player still operating at the peak of his abilities.

For Liverpool he is a symbol. The defining legend of this period in their history. Losing him would mean the loss of a significant part of the fabric of the club. There is a reason Liverpool chased off any interest in Steven Gerrard until his powers had waned. It can be read as a sign of weakness to lose a legendary player while they still have something left to give.

There is larger symbolism at play here too. While the Saudi league has hoovered up big name talent this summer, it is yet to pluck a player in their prime from a club dead-set on keeping them. Big names like Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema moved on free transfers in their mid-to-late 30s. Liverpool themselves showed little resistance when Henderson moved and were happy to let Firmino’s contract expire in order for him to move. But Salah is a different kettle of fish. He is the club’s talisman and, given the transfer window is shut in England, they would be unable to replace him.

Liverpool resisting the Saudi millions and keeping Salah would be a statement of intent. It would demonstrate to other clubs that you don’t have to be bullied into parting with your best players. That there are things in football more important than money. To sell Salah would underline that essentially every player has a price. That no matter the emotional pull, commerciality will always win out. Liverpool and Al-Ittihad are fighting over more than just a supremely gifted player. They are fighting to define what football means from here onwards. The ramifications could be felt for years to come.

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