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Saudi Pro League Abandon Salah Pursuit without Making Second Bid

It’s deadline day for the Saudi Pro league and according to reports they will not submit a second bid for Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool FC v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images

With hours left to go in their transfer window, the Saudi Pro League and that nation’s Public Investment Fund appear to have given up on signing Mohamed Salah this summer without attempting a second bid after last week’s £150M offer was rejected by Liverpool.

The league and PIF—also owners of Newcastle United—had been seeking Salah’s signing on behalf of Al-Ittihad, who saw Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kanté signed on their behalf earlier in the summer and there had been talk of a bid exceeding £200M being in the works.

According to reports, though, there is now an acceptance Liverpool would not consider a sale at any price with their season started, the English transfer window closed, and money in the bank far less helpful for the 2023-24 season than having Salah on the books.

There is talk, of course, of this not ending their interest, and some will expect Salah to move on next summer. Salah, though, is still only 31 years of age. Benzema, by comparison, is 35. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr days before his 38th birthday.

Salah could play a further three seasons in England and still be younger than both, and given his status as not just one of the game’s top five attackers but also arguably the most prominent Muslim athlete in the history of football, there should be no rush to sell.

As long as Salah believes he has a role to play and records to set at the highest levels of the game, Liverpool and the club’s fans should resist any urge to see his move as something of a fait accompli—perhaps even in the process making such a departure likelier.

Saudi interest in Salah will remain next summer, and unlike for players such as Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, his value to the sportswashing project won’t diminish as the player ages—not in 2024 and not in 2025 or 2026 if he chooses to extend his Liverpool stay.

And while it certainly feels as though it would be the longest of long shots, if Salah doesn’t in the end see the appeal in becoming a PR prop for Saudi Arabia, nobody should be upset at the club missing out on a payday for one of their greatest players of all time.

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