6 players that could still leave for Saudi Arabia this window: Salah, Pogba…
The end of the summer transfer window across Europe’s major leagues is usually a time for fans to breathe a sigh or relief and take stock at the state of their club’s squad. The Saudi Pro League’s aggressive assault on the transfer market has changed all that.
The Public Investment Fund-backed ‘big four’ have spent hundreds of millions this summer in luring the likes of Neymar, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane to the Saudi Pro League and there remains an appetite to sign more superstars.
The Saudi Pro League’s transfer window doesn’t close until September 7th, giving clubs across Europe a headache as they aim to keep hold of their biggest assets. Here are six players that could still move in the next week.
Jurgen Klopp has remained steadfast in his belief that talismanic forward Salah isn’t going anywhere, but reigning Saudi Pro League champions Al-Ittihad appear determined to test Liverpool’s resolve.
“If we considered leaving LFC this year, we wouldn’t have renewed the contract last summer,” Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas wrote on social media last month.
“Mohamed remains committed to LFC”
However, Abbas has since gone awfully quiet after reports emerged that the Saudi club are willing to pay the 31-year-old a mindblowing £65million per year.
Al-Ittihad’s latest bid is said to be £150million, which was turned down on deadline day by Liverpool. Watch this space over whether they return with a bigger one.
🗣 "The position remains the same…nothing else to say."
Jurgen Klopp gives an update on Liverpool's stance with Mo Salah pic.twitter.com/RzRhUxIK8n
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 1, 2023
“True Pogba? Only playing minutes are missing,” told DAZN after his first appearance
“I’m fine physically and I want to get back on top. How much does Paul want from Juventus? I’m hungry, like in my early days here. I’m only thirty. I want to give these fans trophies and the desire to come here to the stadium.”
The mercurial Frenchman hasn’t lifted a trophy since the 2018 World Cup and sounds determined to get his career back on track after injuries limited him to just 161 minutes of football for Juventus last term.
ESPN report that Pogba has been offered a three-year contract worth €100m ($111m) plus bonuses by Al Ahli, but he’s yet to take up any kind of offer. The coming days and weeks will surely test quite how much he wants to remain playing in Europe.
Salah isn’t the only Liverpool player linked to the Saudi Pro League.
Alisson has emerged as a potential target, although those links have gone quiet of late, while Joe Gomez is said to be on the radar of Al Ittihad.
While Gomez isn’t a guaranteed starter at Anfield, Liverpool really couldn’t afford to lose the defensive cover. Now the European transfer window is shut, it’ll surely take something astronomical.
Januzaj never quite became “one of the world’s best” – as predicted by Gary Neville after his memorable debut against Sunderland – but he’s had a respectable enough career, with over 100 appearances for Real Sociedad and 15 caps for Belgium.
But the winger now finds himself out of favour at Sevilla after an underwhelming loan to Istanbul Basaksehir last term.
The La Liga club could do with offloading Januzaj and lesser-known Saudi club Al Tai have emerged as potential suitors, although interest is yet to formalise.
Strictly speaking, as a free agent, Ramos wouldn’t be leaving anywhere. He can join whoever whenever he likes as long as he finds an offer to his liking.
The ludicrously decorated 37-year-old has made it clear that he’s not done yet by sharing clips training intensively. Jose Mourinho’s Roma are said to be interested, but they face competition from clubs in Saudi Arabia and MLS. It would be no shock at all to see the former Spain international take one last mega payday with one of the Saudi Pro League big dogs.
Sergio Ramos durmuyor. pic.twitter.com/CGZlS4TgJH
— Forza Cimbom (@forzacimbomtr) September 1, 2023
Luis Enrique has reportedly told Verratti that he’ll never play under his management. The Italian midfielder has been at PSG for all nine of their post-takeover Ligue 1 titles but is reportedly being ousted as they look to freshen things up.
The door appears to have closed on Verratti moving elsewhere in Europe for now Saudi Arabia remains open. Al-Hilal have made the 30-year-old a lucrative offer, while Qatari side Al Arabi are also said to be interested. A move looked certain at one point, but appears to have stalled for the time being. Still, this one feels more a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.