Al Ittihad renew interest in Mohamed Salah but Liverpool reluctant to sell

Saudi champions reportedly return with improved contract offer to tempt the Egyptian into moving this summer

Mohamed Salah has been a top transfer target for Al Ittihad for much of the summer. Getty
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Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad have renewed their interest in Mohamed Salah and are prepared to offer the Egyptian star a huge contract to make the move, although Liverpool are reportedly reluctant to sell their star player this summer.

Ittihad, who have signed Salah's former Liverpool teammate Fabinho as well as superstar striker Karim Benzema and World Cup-winning midfielder N'Golo Kante, had earlier identified Salah as a top target but it was understood that a deal was more likely to materialise next summer.

However, the Jeddah giants are reportedly determined to sign the 31-year-old Egypt international before the end of the transfer window, and having previously prepared a two-year contract understood to be worth €180 million, are ready to double that offer to tempt Salah into the move.

Ittihad believe a transfer fee of £52m ($65m) is a sensible bid to bring Liverpool to the negotiating table, although various reports claim the Reds have no intention of letting Salah leave.

Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas Issa, had earlier this month dismissed speculation his client was close to leaving Liverpool for Saudi, posting on social media: “If we considered leaving [Liverpool] this year, we wouldn’t have renewed the contract last summer,” Issa wrote. “Mohamed remains committed to LFC.”

Salah signed a new three-year deal last summer, meaning he still has two years left on his contract and ensures Liverpool are not under immediate pressure to sell unless the Egyptian attempts to force the move. There has been no indication, throughout Ittihad's sustained interest, that Salah is angling to leave Anfield.

Should Salah indicate that he will not extend his Liverpool deal, then next summer will be the club's last chance to secure a transfer fee for him.

If Ittihad were to get a deal for Salah over the line, it would be one of the most impactful transfers in Saudi football history. Salah is the biggest Arab football star in the world and would continue to raise the profile and interest in the Saudi Pro League among Arab and global football fans.

Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, who alongside Salah formed a fearsome attack which fired Liverpool to the Premier League and Champions League titles, are already in Saudi having secured moves to Al Ahli and Al Nassr respectively.

Brazilian forward Firmino is part of a new-look Ahli side which also features Algerian star Riyad Mahrez, French winger Allan Saint-Maximin, defenders Roger Ibanez and Merih Demiral, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, and midfielder Franck Kessie.

Mane, meanwhile, joined a Nassr team led by Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved to Saudi in January. The Riyadh club have also secured deals for defender Aymeric Laporte from Manchester City, winger Otavio, full-back Alex Telles, and midfielders Seko Fofana and Marcelo Brozovic.

Ittihad, Nassr and Ahli are three of four major Saudi clubs to have been taken over by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which has provided significant financial support to transform the Saudi Pro League and attract some of football's biggest names.

The fourth club, Al Hilal, have also taken full advantage of their new spending power, breaking the league transfer record three times this summer, including the recent €90m deal for Brazilian star Neymar.

All the major Saudi Pro League transfers

The four-time Asian champions have also signed midfielder Ruben Neves, winger Malcom, striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, defender Kalidou Koulibaly, and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

Elsewhere, Steven Gerrard was appointed Al Ettifaq manager and made former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson his key signing.

While Saudi clubs have enjoyed a successful transfer window, the same could not be said for Liverpool. Following the exits of Henderson and Fabinho, the Reds have been left short of midfielders and were twice beaten to key midfield targets, Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, by rivals Chelsea.

Since joining Liverpool from Roma in 2017, Salah has been Liverpool's best player and one of the greatest in the club's history. He has scored 187 goals in 307 appearances and has won the Premier League Golden Boot three times.

Updated: August 25, 2023, 4:47 AM