01 Sep Klopp warns of Saudi threat after deadline closes
Jurgen Klopp has rejected claims by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin that the Saudi Pro League is not a threat to the European game, saying the next two weeks will give a clear indication of how great a challenge the cash-rich league will pose to clubs like Liverpool.
Saudi champions Al Ittihad are considering a £100 million-plus ($127m) move for Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, and sources have told ESPN that Liverpool are aware of the interest from the Jeddah-based club. However, Klopp has said the club will not listen to any offer for the Egypt international.
Saudi Pro League teams can still sign players until Sept. 20, raising the prospect of a substantial bid for Salah after the Premier League window closes at 11 p.m. BST (6 p.m. ET) on Friday.
But with Ceferin saying this week that the Saudi Pro League only appeals to ageing players and that “Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland don’t dream of playing in Saudi Arabia,” Klopp said it is too early to dismiss the threat posed by the emerging Saudi league.
“I don’t know 100% yet but I don’t think the Haaland and Mbappe example is a really good one,” Klopp said. “They are that young and earn already, so that is a different thing.
“I don’t know how stable it is and I think the next two weeks will show how much of a challenge it is because whatever happens there [after the Premier League deadline], no one can react anymore.
“That is something UEFA or whoever should have an eye on because we all have to protect the game.
“I don’t know where it will lead to but it feels rather like a threat or a concern than not because I can’t see how we really deny it in these moments, what can we do?
“But we have to make sure the European leagues stay as strong as they are so we have to change laws, adapt laws.”
Liverpool have seen midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson leave for Saudi Arabia this summer, joining Al Ittihad and Al Ettifaq, respectively. And aside from speculation around Salah, there have also been reports linking Saudi clubs with a move for goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
But despite the increasing focus on the Saudi league, Klopp said he has not yet watched any of the games in the country.
“I love all my players who play now in Saudi, but I didn’t watch them yet,” he said. “I don’t know where, so it is not like it distracts me from my watching habits.
“We are still a bit surprised by the activity from Saudi Arabia, I didn’t watch it yet but that doesn’t mean I never will.”