Juventus are once again said to be lining up a move for Liverpool’s Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah.
Links initially surfaced last month, with Italian outlet Tuttosport suggesting the Old Lady had tabled a gargantuan offer of £44m and Paulo Dybala. Now, speculation is rife again with Tuttomercatoweb picking up the story.
Juventus’ director, Fabio Paratici, himself hasn’t shut the door on a move, telling reporters in February regarding a Salah deal: “At this moment, it’s all fantasy football, it’s only February, so nobody knows what could happen in June.”
These kinds of links shouldn’t come as a surprise; even taking away Salah’s ridiculous 64-goal haul in just 93 games for Liverpool – prompting Jurgen Klopp to label him as ‘world-class‘ in January – the former Chelsea man has plenty of previous in Italy, scoring 43 goals in 109 games during combined spells with Fiorentina and AS Roma.
“He’s a world-class player. It worked really well bringing him from Roma, it was absolutely a win-win situation. He benefits a lot from the way the team is playing and his scoring desire and being in the right positions is a really rare skill, which is why everyone is looking for players like this. It’s just fantastic.”
Jurgen Klopp on Mohamed Salah
Furthermore, a move for Salah would fit Juventus’ modus operandi of pairing marquee acquisitions with thrifty manoeuvres in the transfer market, based on previous summers. Last year saw Liverpool’s Emre Can arrive on a free transfer, with the marquee signing of Cristiano Ronaldo up front.
The summer transfer window of 2016 saw Dani Alves arrive for free, while the Turin side shelled out a combined £109.8m to sign Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic. Meanwhile, it was Dybala cast as the poster boy and Sami Khedira the astute free transfer in 2015. You get the picture.
Juve already have their free transfer lined up for the upcoming summer, with Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey all signed and sealed and ready to join the Italian champions at the end of the season. Now, they just need their statement signing, the man who can either finally deliver Champions League glory to the European bridesmaids – or help retain a trophy they may have already won with a little help from Ronaldo – making them the Madonna they’ve always threatened to be.
After all, Liverpool one-upped Juventus in the Champions League last season, reaching the final with Salah bagging 10 goals along the way. Had the forward not succumb to a cruel injury at the hands of Sergio Ramos during the first half in Kyiv, who knows how different things could have been?
When Ronaldo rocked up in Turin last summer, the Portuguese reportedly generated a staggering, 520,000 shirt sales in just 24 hours and yes, there is a very credible, 597-goal (and counting) argument to say he’s indeed the greatest of all time. However, should Juve pull off the signing of Salah, the Italians would be bringing a whole new species of hype. In north Africa, Salah isn’t just king; he’s a deity, worshipped like almost nobody or nothing else.
Last February, football shirts with Salah’s name on the back were the fourth-highest selling in the Premier League, with just Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Harry Kane selling more shirts last season, while it was reported last month that demand for Liverpool shirts had led to stocks being totally sold out.
Any foundation behind Juve’s belief that they can pull off this most ambitious of coups will be predicated on Liverpool’s past reputation of being a feeder club to Europe’s present elite. In the past three-and-a-half years alone, the Reds have seen Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez all leave Anfield for a combined £252.38m, while looking back to the likes of Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres proves this is hardly a new phenomenon.
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Something feels different at Liverpool now, though. Since the departure of Coutinho, the Reds have undertaken a run of form rarely seen from them in the Premier League era and now that they sit atop the Premier League table with just a handful of games to go, it seems like Klopp’s long-term vision is coming to fruition.
Salah himself insists he is ‘totally focused’ on trying to bring home a Premier League and Champions League double with Liverpool, moving to shut down the embers of rumour before they become a wildfire.
“These rumours came out at the most important stage of the season and we cannot talk about the market in the middle of the season,” he said recently.
“I am totally focused on my team and the challenges we have at the Premier League and Champions League.”
While former Red Danny Murphy doesn’t see the Egyptian being ‘remotely interested’ in a move.
“I don’t see Salah being remotely tempted to leave Liverpool and the Premier League. I’ve seen reports that Juventus are interested, but that’s not going to happen,” he said.
“I don’t think it would ever be a Coutinho style situation, where he always wanted to play for Barcelona and forced through a move.”
Juventus may be one of the few clubs in world football that have the funds to mount a serious bid for Salah, but Klopp’s empire on Merseyside is now starting to take hold, while Serie A just doesn’t have the same competitive pull it once did. The Premier League far outstrips its Italian rival there.
The Egyptian King to Turin? This rumour cannot be considered concrete, but both Salah’s appeal and Juventus’ clout in the current market are self-evident. Either way, the shape this fledgeling transfer saga takes will confirm or undermine Klopp’s recent claim that “Liverpool are back on the landscape. Back in big football.”