Liverpool’s Mo Salah could face Auckland City if transfer deal goes through

Liverpool star Mo Salah would be eligible to play against Auckland City at December’s FIFA Club World Cup if his rumoured NZ$425 million move to Saudi Arabia goes ahead.

Media speculation suggests Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad will offer £200 million (NZ$425 million) to Liverpool to secure the Egyptian international before the Saudi transfer window closes on Friday (NZT).

Liverpool have already rejected a bid of £150 million.

New Zealand national champions Auckland City will play Al-Ittihad in the opening game at the FIFA Club World Cup on December 12.

Auckland City have qualified for the tournament as winners of the OFC Champions League, while Al-Ittihad are hosts.

Both clubs will discover their potential second-round opponents when FIFA conducts the Club World Cup draw in Jeddah at 11pm (NZT) on Tuesday September 5.

Al-Ittihad are rapidly building a squad of star players and have already secured French international Karim Benzema (signed from Real Madrid), Brazil international Fabinho (signed from Liverpool) and French international N’Golo Kanté (previously with Chelsea).

Teams going to the FIFA Club World Cup

Only one spot remains open for the tournament, and will go to whichever club is crowned champions of South America.

Teams qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup are:

  • Auckland City, New Zealand (Oceania champions)
  • Al-Ittihad, Saudi Arabia (hosts)
  • Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan (Asia champions)
  • Club Leon, Mexico (North & Central America/Caribbean champions)
  • Al Ahly, Egypt (African champions)
  • Manchester City (European champions)

The seventh and last qualifier will be decided on November 4, when the final of the 2023 Copa Libertadores is held, deciding which club will represent South America.

Last year’s opening match between Auckland City and Al Ahly, played in Morocco.

If City win, they’ll face one of the clubs that enter at the second round stage, including Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, Egypt’s Al Ahly and Mexico’s Club Leon.

The two survivors of the second round go into the semi-finals against Manchester City, and whichever side represents South America.

The December tournament will be the last in its current form, switching from its seven-team format to a 32-team four-yearly tournament in 2025.

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Saudi Arabia offered to host the 2023 tournament, for the first time, as part of their bid to win hosting rights for the 2030 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

The 2022 competition was held in Morocco, with the previous five finals held in either the United Arab Emirates or Qatar.

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