With a week to go in the transfer window and three days ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League match against Saudi Arabia-owned Newcastle United, a flurry of stories broke via The Athletic claiming that Saudi Arabia-owned Saudi Pro League club Al-Ittihad wanted to sign Mohamed Salah this summer.
Liverpool’s response, delivered via press briefing to every just about every club-connected journalist, amounted to el oh el fuck off. Which, given the time left in the transfer window, Salah’s importance to the side, and that the player is still going strong at age 31 is both the reasonable and expected response.
Reasonable and expected or not, it’s nice to get the confirmation. Even from him. With Saudi interest Salah an open secret and hardly breaking news, it’s also been less than a month since Salah’s agent went on record saying if he’d planned on leaving he “wouldn’t have renewed the contract last summer.”
A month ago, that a club like Al-Ittihad—owned directly by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund that also owns Newcastle and with all league transfers overseen by and with wages subsidized by Saudi’s sports ministry—would want Salah and what they’d be willing to pay would have been known by the player.
In transfers, of course, anything is at least theoretically possible and where there’s a will and endless wealth to tap in order to burnish a country’s standing via sportswashing nothing can ever be ruled out with 100% certainty. Still, Salah to Al-Ittihad before the window shuts seems the unlikeliest of long shots.