West Ham United striker Michail Antonio has claimed that Mohamed Salah ‘was ready to go’ to Saudi Arabia this summer.
The Liverpool number 11 has been the subject of much interest from the government-backed Saudi Pro League, with Liverpool ultimately rejecting a bid supposedly worth up £150m, including add-ons, from Al Ittihad, prior to the passing of the transfer deadline earlier this month.
Though the Reds never wavered from their position that Salah is not for sale, there have been suggestions that Salah had his head turned by the level of interest – which included promises of a salary package that would make him one of the best-paid footballers on the planet.
With the 31-year-old’s contract expiring in 2025, it is expected that Saudi interest in Salah will continue into future windows, when Liverpool may be more open to a deal.
Speaking on the Footballer’s Football Podcast, Antonio claims he knows ‘for a fact’ that Salah was ready to leave Liverpool this summer.
“He didn’t turn that [transfer] down, no way,” Antonio said.
“He was locked up and the Reds had put that red arrow across: ‘You are not going anywhere’. He did not stop that at all. To be fair to him, he didn’t kick up a fuss and let them do what they were doing. But I know for a fact that he was ready to go.”
Antonio went on to insist that a potential big-money deal would have suited all parties, including Liverpool.
He said: “What else can he do at Liverpool? He’s done it. It’s [Saudi] a great opportunity for him, he is a Muslim man and it had everything screaming out for him. There was no actual negative for the man to not go. I understand he has a contract, which he has fulfilled.
“So he wins another [Premier League title], do you know what that just means? He has won another. It doesn’t add much to anything else. He has done everything he could possibly do at Liverpool. I am saying to you right now, a Muslim man going to a Muslim country, £215m to Liverpool for a 31-year-old. I just find it completely crazy they’ve not accepted that.”
Meanwhile, Salah became just the eighth player in Premier League history to register 200 goal contributions for one club, achieving the milestone with a hat-trick of assists in the 3-1 win over Wolves on Saturday.
He is nine goals from breaking into the top 10 Premier League goalscorers of all time.