Salah Saudi, Arsenal wonderkid future & more

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Jurgen Klopp was quick to downplay his touchline spat with Mo Salah in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at West Ham. Salah, on the other hand, fuelled the fire (quite literally) after telling assembled media, “If I speak today there will be fire…”

The incident isn’t likely to change anything. Salah was unhappy at being dropped for the game following the Merseyside Derby defeat at Everton, and also wanted to come on earlier; and Klopp is leaving anyway at the end of the season.

I would imagine between now and then we will see and hear first-hand the mutual respect Klopp and Salah have for each other. I really don’t see the spat being something Salah or Klopp will linger over.

Liverpool expect Salah to stay and be part of Arne Slot’s squad, and both Michael Edwards and Richard Hughes will be tasked with not only convincing him to do one more season at Liverpool but, as importantly, extend his deal.

Sources have always indicated Saudi dealmakers are prepared to wait until 2025 for Salah. This could allow them to get him on a free transfer, and Salah would naturally seek a healthy signing-on fee should that scenario materialise.

From Liverpool’s perspective, they want Salah to extend, since this means should a Saudi offer arrive in 2025 they can still get a healthy fee if they wish to sell, likely in excess of £70m with bonuses on top.

Salah extending would also stop Liverpool having to deal with speculation this summer; or potentially consider an astronomical offer that has financial merit should Saudi try again this summer. Although that can’t entirely be ruled out, there is low confidence amongst Saudi dealmakers that Salah wants to leave Liverpool or Europe just yet.

Mohamed Salah could stay at Liverpool for another year

Unless that changes, and Ministry of Sport executives get a green light for Salah, I would expect Saudi to play the long game.

The other factor in all this is the renewal of MENA rights for the Saudi Pro League in summer 2025, and the package Saudi Sports Channel has includes Egypt. It could potentially help Saudi get the best possible rights deal if they can secure Salah just before signing anything off with broadcasters. Perhaps Egypt rights will even be sold separately.

Sterling remains committed to Chelsea, and is settled in London. But as a high earner at the club, it’s natural there will be speculation about a summer exit. Unless Sterling has a major U-turn, he’s going to resist an exit and try to prove any critics wrong. It hasn’t been an easy spell for him at Chelsea, but staying fit and having a run in the side could yet change all that.

Links with Saudi, and Al-Hilal specifically, are wide of the mark according to my information. Sterling had a very informal approach from Saudi in summer 2023, but since then there has been no contact.

Chelsea are naturally open to doing more business with Saudi, and away from Sterling, they will gladly sell Romelu Lukaku to a Saudi Pro League club.

Al-Hilal had a €45m offer accepted last summer but Lukaku wanted to stay in Italy. Al-Hilal now have other targets, but keep an eye on both Al-Shabab and soon-to-be promoted Al-Qadsiyah.

Xavi Simons has had a fantastic season with Leipzig on loan from PSG. The 21-year-old has scored seven goals and got 11 assists in the Bundesliga.

Simons and PSG will now decide the next step together. Two primary options are being considered by PSG: send Simons back to Leipzig again or bring him back to Paris this summer.

Leipzig are open to another loan, and sending Simons back there helps PSG navigate some short-term complexities.

Luis Enrique and Simons must also chat about the future together, so what happens next will very much be a collaborative process.

A permanent sale is viewed by sources as the least likely scenario. It’s not totally impossible should an incredible offer be tabled and Simons wants a fresh challenge, but suggestions Chelsea and Arsenal are advancing anything at this stage are not correct according to my understanding.

The next step is for PSG to speak to Simons and very possibly Leipzig before any final decision is taken, but I wouldn’t rule out a loan renewal.

Arsenal are in a great position with 16-year-old talent Chido Obi-Martin.

Obi-Martin scored 10 goals this season against Liverpool in an Under-16s game, and last weekend got seven goals against Norwich City for Arsenal’s Under-18s. He has 28 goals this campaign.

Obi-Martin has signed with Elite Project Group, who also look after Bukayo Saka.

Arsenal have to wait until Obi-Martin turns 17 in November before they can offer him a professional contract. That, coupled with a new agency, does slightly open the door to suitors, including Borussia Dortmund and Roma.

But Arsenal are calm about the situation, and Obi-Martin has seen first hand the pathways for young players under Mikel Arteta. It will be really surprising if Obi Martin looks elsewhere despite the growing volume of interest.

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