Rumours of the Saudi Pro League’s interest in Mohamed Salah gained credibility this week.
A number of outlets have confirmed Al Ittihad’s intention to offer Salah a contract that would at the very least put him on a par with the highest-paid footballers in the world.
Though Ramy Abbas (Salah’s agent) dismissed rumours of a Liverpool exit earlier in August and the club’s own stance is that Salah, whose contract runs until 2025, remains untouchable, fans around the world appear to be in for a nervy end to the the transfer window.
And while European Deadline Day is 1 September, that is not the case for Saudi Arabia – with anxieties potentially about to be dragged out even further.
When does the Saudi Pro League transfer window close?
You might think it would be a good idea for all transfer windows to be aligned but that is not currently the case.
FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players indicate that transfer windows are determined by each individual association. It is only ruled that there must be two windows throughout the year, and the first must begin on the first day of the season and not exceed 12 weeks.
While all the major European leagues (which typically begin their seasons on 1 July) have more or less totally aligned on when players can be bought and sold, other associations throughout the world have different periods.
The governing body of the Saudi Pro League, which also kicks off pre-season in July, has decided to use the entirety of the 12-week transfer window allocation and set a Deadline Day of 20 September – a full 19 days after the close of the European window.
In essence, this means that European-based players can still transfer to the Saudi Pro League into the fourth week of September. However, the selling clubs cannot register replacements until January.
READ MORE: When could Mohamed Salah leave Liverpool?
Liverpool know better than most the unsettling power of Saudi’s aggressive player recruitment strategy, having sold Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Al Ettifaq and Al Ittihad already this summer. While the club agreed to sanction both deals and netted £52m to help with a summer rebuild, the departures were unexpected and have had a destabilising effect on the Reds’ transfer plans since – with the scattered attempts to sign a replacement ‘number six’ much publicised.
The Reds do not want to listen to offers for Salah, regardless of how lucrative they might be, but Saudi’s late deadline means we could well be hearing about the links for several more weeks and who knows the effect that will have.
Likely predicting this very scenario, Jurgen Klopp spoke out on Saudi’s ill-aligned window earlier this summer, calling it ‘not helpful’ and calling on football’s authorities to ‘find solutions’ to to rectify it.
“I think pretty much the worst thing is that the transfer window in Saudi Arabia is three weeks longer open,” Klopp said prior to the start of the Premier League season. “That’s not helpful. So there must be, UEFA, FIFA must find solutions for that.”