KICKER – ENGLAND liverpool + chelsea
** Liverpool are demonstrating their faith in the work of Jurgen Klopp and his trophy-winning potential by preparing to splash a club record £39m on Roma winger Mohamed Salah.
The deal would also benefit Chelsea – off the pitch if not on it – because the Premier League champions would receive £2.7m under the terms of the Egyptian’s original departure from Stamford Bridge.
Salah has agreed a four-year contract worth £90,000-a-week with an option for a further 12 months.
The transfer has been in the offing for two weeks after Roma originally rejected a £28m offer from Anfield. Under the increased offer he will become Liverpool’s most expensive signing, exceeding the £35m they paid Newcastle for Andy Carroll in 2011.
For Klopp the significance of Salah’s arrival will be reduce the team’s dependence on Sadio Mane which was exposed this past season when the Senegalese was absent at the African Cup of Nations. The irony is that, in two years’ time, both players could be absent together at the African national teams’ championship.
Salah made only six Premier starts with Chelsea after arriving from in January 2014 but has contributed 17 assists for Roma in the past two Serie A seasons. Chelsea negotiated a sell-on clause worth 10pc of Roma’s profit on Salah when they sold him for £12m last summer after his loans to both Fiorentina and Roma. Having made a £1m profit then the Blues will now cash in again.
Liverpool’s transfer campaign has already seen the arrival of England’s World Under-20-winning forward Dominic Solanke from Chelsea. They continue to pursue a new leftback and have been linked with RB Leipzig’s Guinea midfielder Naby Keïta.
** Antonio Conte has cooled concern about his Chelsea future by promising to sign a contract extension when he returns to London later this month to take charge of pre-season training.
Speculation about Conte’s future, despite his title-winning debut season, had surged after initial links with Internazionale plus the club’s apparent slow start to transfer business.
However he has since discussed future plans with executive director Marina Granovskaia and technical director Michael Emenalo. They were not apparently happy that he had taken it on himself to send Diego Costa an sms indicating that the Spain striker did not feature in his plans for next season.
The 47-year-old made no secret, in the last weeks of the season, of the club’s new for a stronger all-round squad ahead of a demanding campaign which will see Chelsea back in European competition in the Champions League.
Conte’s current contract expires in 2019 and he is expected to sign a two-year extension with a 50pc pay rise lifting his salary to £9m. He is also understood to be searching for a family home near the club’s training ground at Cobham in Surrey so his wife and daughter can join him in London.
In terms of transfers, Chelsea are closing in on Monaco’s France midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko while Willy Caballero is expected to join as goalkeeping cover for Thibaud Courtois after the expiry of his contract with Manchester City. Everton’s Romelu Lukaku remains the target as a centre-forward replacement for Costa.