Uri Levy

Salah coming to Liverpool is a pretty big deal

Salah's arrival from AS Roma gives Liverpool a broader horizon [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 June, 2017

Blog: The record signing of Mohammad Salah brings Liverpool to a huge new market of potential fans - and shirt-buyers, notes Uri Levy.

Mohammad Salah's signing at Liverpool for £36.9 million ($48m), is a pretty big deal.

The transfer fee makes Salah the most expensive African player in footballing history.

Switching from Rome to Liverpool, the fee has surpassed that paid for his new teammate, the Senegalese winger Sadio Mané (£35m), Manchester United's Ivorian defender Eric Bailly (£30m), Leicester City's Algerian striker Islam Slimani (£29.5n) and the former Manchester City Ivorian forward Wilfried Bony (£28m).

Salah is also the most expensive Arab footballer in the game's history.

There will be those who ask: "Isn't Zinedine Zidane the most expensive Arab footballer?" Well, you can say so, if you consider Zidane's Algerian Kabyle heritage - but Zidane never represented an Arab country on the pitch, and wasn't born in an Arab country.

Karim Benzema, born in Lyon to an Algerian family, likewise meets neither of these requirements. Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi both play for Algeria, but were born in Sarcelles and Paris respectively.

In addition, Salah is an Arabic symbol and something of a hero. He grew up in the small village of Basyoun in northern Egypt and went on to shine at the Mokawelloun Al-Arab (Arab Contractors), yet never played for Al-Ahly or Zamalek, Egypt's two mega-clubs.

He is player who came from nothing to greatness with consistent hard work. He criticised the government after the Port Said disaster. While playing in Fiorentina he wore shirt number 74 in honour of the Al-Ahly fans who died that day.

He criticised Israel, scored against Maccabi Tel Aviv and showed frequent support for Palestine. Salah is a hero for Arabs and many others across the world, both for his contributions on the pitch and his socio-political perceptions and agenda.

Salah is also apparently the second most expensive player Liverpool FC has ever bought. According to the usually reliable Transfermarkt, Christian Benteke hold the top spot in this regard.

While Andy Carroll was for years regarded as The Reds' most expensive footballer, the fall of the British pound in recent years has changed the table a bit.

In terms of price, Salah is ranked between first and third in the Merseyside purchase rankings. In any case - if he plays and scores enough - an extra £8m will make its way to Roma and he will be officially the most expensive footballer in Liverpool Football Club history.

If that's not enough, Salah has set a record for a departure transfer of the Giallorossi, and became the highest sold asset in AS Roma's history. Names like Miralem Pjanic, Marquinhos, Erik Lamela, Mehdi Benatia and Emerson, were all left behind, big-time.

But it's not all about Salah's goals. His market value is what makes this transfer the "real deal". With his arrival, Liverpool has entered a huge market of new fans, with around 60 million Egyptians, around 300 million Arabs and 1.2 billion Muslims.

Just ask Stoke City what happened to their social media accounts after the young Egyptian starlet, Ramadan Sobhi, signed from Al-Ahly last year. They needed to open a new account - in Arabic. A quick look to Liverpool's "followers" column on Twitter will rest the case. Thousands of Egyptians are already there, and his transfer was only announced a few days ago. What will happen when he starts scoring?

Salah has around 2.4 million followers on Twitter. That's a lot - a third of Liverpool's entire reach, and that's not even counting Facebook or Instagram. Just imagine the numbers.

Liverpool will not only enjoy Salah's actions on the pitch, but also on the net, and the ever-growing merchandising opportunities, with tens of millions of potential new fans (and custumers) from all over the Arab world.

The match between Salah and Liverpool is, on paper, a win-win. It's the ultimate Arab-Scouser wedding. Or as we call it these days: a pretty big deal.


Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here

Most Popular