Al-Ittihad are prepared to go up to £200million in their bid to prise Mohamed Salah from Liverpool.
The Anfield club have rejected an offer of £150m but that hasn’t deterred the Saudi Pro League club who will push for Salah until their window closes on September 7.
Mail Sport reported earlier this week that despite Liverpool’s continued resistance and Jurgen Klopp’s determination to keep his talismanic forward, the Saudis want Salah as the symbol of the new project and are prepared to break the £198million Paris St Germain paid Barcelona for Neymar in 2017.
Talks have been ongoing for months but have intensified in recent days with Saudi pro League hierarchy basing themselves in Cannes in the south of France to conduct negotiations.
Liverpool director Mike Gordon rejected proposals on Thursday night and today they have re-iterated the 31-year-old is not for sale and consider the case closed.
Salah, who scored 30 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season, is part of the club’s leadership group and signed a new three-year contract last summer, which made him the highest-paid player in Liverpool history.
Klopp has admitted concern about the wages on offer for players and the Saudi window being open longer so that they can carry on distracting players with what is on offer.
Liverpool are only too aware there may come a point when economics begin to dominate over the immediate sporting project for Salah.
Liverpool staff have been sounding out agents to determine who is available in the market but finding the calibre of player to replace such a performer is difficult at this stage, hence their stance so far.
The clubs have continued to insist any and all offers for the 31-year-old will be rejected given Salah’s importance to Jurgen Klopp’s side and the lateness in the transfer window.
One of the big concerns for Liverpool is that the European transfer window closes on Friday September 1 at 11pm, while the Saudi market remains open until September 7.
The Reds have looked into potential replacements in the last 48 hours, but have not firmed anything up as they look to keep Salah.
Salah’s status as the biggest Arab athlete in the world is fuelling Saudi Arabia’s pursuit with Al-Ittihad evidently prepared to push until the final hour on Friday.
However, Liverpool are in no rush to sell given the player still has two years remaining on his existing contract.
Salah would easily be Saudi’s biggest coup of the summer after already bringing Brazilian star Neymar to the nation from Paris Saint-Germain in August.
Al-Ittihad’s bargaining continues the trend of targeting Liverpool players with lucrative moves to the Middle East after several other big names quite Anfield for the riches on offer in the Kingdom.
Jordan Henderson gave up the club captaincy to join Steven Gerrard at Al-Ettifaq, while Fabinho and Roberto Firmino also secured exits.
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and centre-back Ibrahima Konate were also the subject of interest but wanted to continue at the Premier League giants.
Talking on Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off Transfer Show, Chief Football Reporter Mokbel doesn’t think Salah will be sold, but says that the club are looking at possible deals if they have to make a move in the market.
‘I think ideally they don’t want to sell him. Jurgen Klopp definitely doesn’t want to sell him,’ said Mokbel.
‘But my information is that they were perhaps manoeuvring themselves into a position to strike for certain forwards who may be available in the market for the contingency of Mo Salah departing.
‘As much as they want to keep him, I don’t think it is beyond the realms of possibility that he departs for Saudi Arabia.’