Putting their money on Mohamed Salah: A Tale of Two Clubs

Mahmoud Elassal , Friday 8 Sep 2023

Ittihad Jeddah's recent aggressive bids to secure the services of Mohamed Salah from Liverpool have faltered – till now – due to the obstinate refusal of the English club to give in to phantasmagorical monetary offers to part with Mo!

Liverpool s Mohamed Salah. AFP
Liverpool s Mohamed Salah. AFP


The saga unfolded in June of this year after the Saudi Public Investment Fund took charge of overseeing four domestic teams in the Kingdom - Al-Hilal, Al-Nasr, Al-Ahly, and Ittihad Jeddah - in the Pro League, investing significant funds to attract renowned players to the kingdom.

Al-Hilal brought in Brazilian superstar Neymar.

Al-Nasr secured Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo and two-time African Footballer of the Year Senegalese Sadio Mane.

Al-Ahly landed former Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino

Ittihad Jeddah, the Saudi Pro League champions, joined the rush to acquire big-name players, signing Real Madrid star Karim Benzema this summer.

For weeks, Ittihad left no stone unturned in their pursuit of signing Salah before the transfer window closed. 

Media outlets reported in late August that Ittihad Jeddah made an offer of £100 million to Liverpool to acquire Mo, coupled with a weekly salary of £1.5 million for the player himself.

No means No!

However, the Reds' management swiftly rejected this proposal, according to the Saudi Asharq Awsat.

Undeterred, Ittihad Jeddah followed up with a mega-money bid totaling £225 million, including add-ons, which, if accepted, would have set a world-record transfer fee.

Once again, Liverpool turned down the offer.

According to Saudi Arabia's newspaper Ariyadhiah, Salah had expressed interest in joining Ittihad Jeddah, contingent upon the approval of Liverpool's management and coach Jurgen Klopp.

However, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp firmly denied all rumours surrounding Salah's departure during multiple press appearances.

"It’s a bit different to talk about media stories, nothing to talk about from our point of view, Mo Salah is a Liverpool player," stressed Klopp, who coached Salah since the first day Mo stepped on the Anfield pitch back in 2017.

"My life philosophy, or one part, is to think about the problem when I have it, it’s enough time then, but there is absolutely nothing at the moment," noted the 56-year-old German tactician who was co-crowned with Salah with UEFA Champions League title in 2018-2019 and the first EPL title for the Reds after a 29-year hiatus in 2019-2020.

Despite Klopp's repeated denials, Saudi media persisted in their pressure and claimed that the deal would be completed on the final day of the English summer transfer market, which fell on 1 September.

However, the date came and went without any developments.

The Saudi transfer window closed seven days later.

Still, Ittihad Jeddah's supporters and Saudi media insisted a mega offer and an irresistible salary were on the table for Salah.

Deadline or no deadline, Ittihad Jeddah remains determined about signing Salah, particularly given their upcoming participation in the Club World Cup, which will be played for the very first time ever in the Kingdom itself.

As the Saudi transfer window deadline approached, Liverpool responded with a resolute ‘No means NO’ statement, making it clear that Salah was not for sale.

What about the groom?

The 31-year-old internationally renowned Salah has not issued any reactions in public since this intra-continental tug-of-war to acquire his services started.

In early August, as media began to surface about Ittihad’s interest in the player, Salah's agent reiterated his client's commitment to English Premier League giants Liverpool, dispelling speculations linking the Egyptian star to a surprise move to the big-spending Saudi Arabia League.

Since joining Liverpool from Roma back in 2017, he has showcased remarkable form, accumulating an impressive record of 188 goals and 81 assists in 309 games across all competitions.

His outstanding performances have earned him a place on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or for the fifth consecutive year.

Money aside, Liverpool wants Salah to help them compete for a second domestic title in four seasons and a fourth UEFA Europa League title.

Salah's sharp laser focus to win with the Reds in all competitions in his six years at Anfield has endeared him to Liverpool fans and elevated him to the status of a club legend.

Without a move to Saudi Arabia, Salah will still be getting £350,000 every week playing in the Reds jersey and will remain one of the highest-paid footballers in the world.

The question now remains: Will Ittihad Jeddah renew their efforts to acquire the Egyptian superstar when the winter transfer market opens in January or will they bide their time until Salah's current contract with Liverpool expires end of the 2024-25 season?

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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