On Thursday, Chelsea announced that they had reached an agreement for the transfer of Mohamed Salah from FC Basel. On Friday, Brendan Rodgers and Jose Mourinho both admitted that, despite Chelsea's offering being accepted by the Swiss club, Salah's future remained up in the air. Today, according to Rodgers at least, it's still up there, with the Liverpool manager refusing to accept defeat.
"The window is not closed yet so we haven't given up on him, no," Rodgers told the BBC following Saturday's FA Cup victory over Bournemouth when asked about the Egyptian winger's future. "Salah was a player we're interested in and we hoped we could do a deal but as of yet there is nothing done on it. The club is still looking for players we can bring in to strengthen the squad."
Chelsea are believed to have offered Basel £11M upfront, with escalators that would quickly take the fee to £16M unless Salah were a complete flop at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool were thought out of the race on Thursday as at the time it was believed they would not go past £10M for the promising but unfinished prospect, particularly given that he plays at what is a position of relative depth.
With Rodgers reiterating his belief that Liverpool could still land Salah, though, it's hard to come to any conclusion but that he is now willing to match Chelsea's bid. Given Liverpool's dire need for reinforcements in midfield and at fullback, and given the club doesn't have access to the kind of financial resources of many of the sides around them in the table do, many fans will not see this as entirely good news.
"It is a difficult market in January so we'll see what happens," added Rodgers when asked about the chance for potential incomings other than Salah. "If nothing comes in then the players I have have been outstanding for me this season and we'll enter into the final part of it with confidence if we have the same group of players."
Behind Liverpool, Manchester United have struggled so far this season, but having just spent close to £40M on Juan Mata they will be looking to close the gap on the top four as the season moves deeper into its second half. Tottenham, meanwhile, look increasingly convincing under new manager Tim Sherwood, while Everton show little sign of dropping off in the second half of the season.
Ahead of them, Chelsea and Arsenal continue to strengthen, while Manchester City's squad depth and quality remain untouchable. Liverpool have limited funds compared to all around them bar Everton and are in desperate need of a holding midfielder and fullback to keep the dream of returning to the top four for the first time in five years alive. If they don't make it now, it could be five more years before a similarly golden opportunity presents itself.
Rodgers and Liverpool may still be in for Salah, willing to fight back by matching Chelsea's bid and offering the player higher wages. They shouldn't be. At least not unless there's an awful lot more money to be spent than most believe. To secure a top four finish, a midfielder and fullback are needed, and it should be on this and not on battling Chelsea for a luxury that Liverpool spend their time, effort, and money over the final six days of the transfer window.