Saudi chief admits he ‘wants’ Salah and namedrops Man City man with SPL ‘delighted’ to welcome Prem duo

Jason Soutar
Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne are both targets for Saudi Arabia.
Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne are both targets for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo has admitted he is keen on signing Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

Liverpool reportedly rejected a £150million bid from Al-Ittihad for Salah in the summer transfer window.

He and De Bruyne are two players who have been strongly linked with a move to Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Saudi chief Emenalo namedropped the Premier League pair and insisted the Pro League will not make the first move for Salah in January.

“Mo Salah, like [Lionel] Messi, [Karim] Benzema, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, these are players that when there is a sense of availability for them, we are willing to listen,” he said.

“But we also understand that Mo is happy where he is at present and in a historic, wonderful club at Liverpool. We respect that very much and we don’t want to come across as putting any pressure on him.

“But if there is any interest to do something, Mo Salah is a player that you want in your league, in any league.

“We respect Liverpool and in this scenario, the initiative to do anything won’t come from us. There has to be an aligned interest from all parties involved.

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“It’s a very personal thing, as a player that I recruited [for Chelsea] and I like. There’s nothing I’m saying that is new or ground-breaking – that a player of this level of talent is available and your league wants him.

“If Mo Salah is available, has an interest to come and everything is aligned, I would be incredibly delighted.”

Kylian Mbappe was the subject of a huge bid believed to be worth over £200m in the summer.

The PSG forward was put up for sale after he told the club he would not be staying in Paris beyond 2024, but he rejected a move to Saudi Arabia.

With Mbappe available on a free transfer at the end of the season, he can reach a pre-contract agreement with a club outside of France from January 1.

“It’s an open conversation, but we don’t know what he wants to do,” Emenalo said. “Our position is very clear – any of these players know where we are.

“If there’s any interest in being part of what we are trying to build now or for the future, you can’t turn down an opportunity to see if Mbappe can join us. Kylian is someone I love as a player.”

On how close the France captain was to joining Al Hilal in the summer, he added: “It’s never close if it’s not done… If it’s not done, it’s a huge chasm.

“I can’t say how deep the conversation went, but there was an express interest that if he was ready to come, there was a club ready to make space for him.”

Lionel Messi – who signed for Inter Miami in July – was wanted by Saudi Arabia before he moved to the United States and Emelano has said there will always be a club for the Barcelona legend.

“When you have two of the best players from the last few decades meet each other [Ronaldo and Messi]… We expect it to produce an incredible amount of excitement.

“It should be fun for the fans and something we’re looking forward to.

“What we know for certain is if Messi is still willing and ambitious to perform and is willing to do so in Saudi Arabia, I think we will be able to find him a club to express his skills.

“It’s a possibility if he wants to come here, we will work hard to find him a club.”

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