Reds Set for Further Saudi Bids This Summer

Liverpool look set for another summer of Saudi clubs trying to disrupt their preparations, with captain Virgil van Dijk the latest player to reportedly be the subject of interest from the Middle East.

Spanish outlet Marca claims Al-Nassr are lining up a proposal that would make Van Dijk the highest-paid defender in the world, with a view to forming a world-class defensive partnership alongside Aymeric Laporte.

With Marca hardly the most reliable of sources and the article thin on details there doesn’t seem to be much for Liverpool fans to worry about here. Van Dijk, who turns 33 next month, remains a pivotal figure for the club, having returned to his very best last season. Even were he to decide to move on it is highly unlikely he would choose the Saudi league anyway, he could still walk into any top side unlike last year’s departures.

As Van Dijk enters the final year of his contract such speculation is inevitable, but it is believed the club will put an end to such gossip with a new deal for their captain soon, along with a new deal for vice-captain Trent Alexander-Arnold who also enters his final year on his current deal.

The other key player facing a contract decision is of course Mohamed Salah, and it is here that the situation is not so clear. Whilst the club will undoubtedly want to keep Salah they will also surely want him to take a paycut, and it remains to be seen whether both sides can reach an agreement. The vibe from Salah’s camp seems positive but without doubt a Saudi bit will be in waiting should talks stall at any point.

Beyond Salah though it appears clear that Saudi clubs are on the hunt for established European names, and we can probably expect more interest in our players through the summer. Whilst our key players will most likely remain safe (I have faith that Salah will sign a new deal along with Trent and Van Dijk), Pro League clubs have shown they will also throw big money at squad players which could possibly turn a head or two.

Fans can argue about the rights or wrongs of it, but it seems clear that Jurgen Klopp was planning to retain Fabinho and Jordan Henderson last summer, with Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai being the extent of his midfield rebuild. The shock bids from Saudi and their subsequent acceptance forced the club back into the market with the late signings of Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch.

As a result we ended up too reliant on the one player that adapted perfectly in Mac Allister, forced to give Gravenberch considerable gametime when he didn’t appear ready, and had to soldier on through the final games with Endo, who despite shining through the middle of the season had clearly hit a brick wall. I would also argue that Szoboszlai would have benifited from time on the pitch with Henderson, he is a very talented player but looks like he needs some guidance out there sometimes.

Looking back I have to say we would have been better off with Fabinho and Henderson over Endo and Gravenberch, and it’s fair to say that their departures dented our chances of silverware.

This summer however it’s difficult to see where Saudi interference could disrupt our preparations so much. If any move were to happen for Salah it would at least constitute a big payday, and wouldn’t be coming in the middle of a front-line rebuild as was the case for our midfield last summer.

Looking to the fringes the only player I could potentially see having their head turned is Kostas Tsimikas, who whilst I like him is most definitely replaceable. The rest of the squad seems either settled at the club or at a stage in their career where they wouldn’t consider such a move.

All in all, whilst we can no doubt expect a Salah bid even with a new contract signed, plus likely some crazy bids for the likes of Van Dijk and Alisson, I really can’t see bids from the Pro League disrupting our season like they did last time round.

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