Liverpool ultimately missed out on signing Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah because he did not want to come to Anfield, according to the club’s managing director Ian Ayre.
Salah, 21, was in negotiations over a move to Merseyside when Chelsea nipped in to sign him in an 11 million pounds deal, which was concluded on Sunday.
Liverpool’s American owners Fenway Sports Group have come in for criticism over the failure to sign Salah, amid suggestions that the club were unwilling to try to beat Chelsea’s bid. But Ayre insists that there is the financial muscle to compete at the top end of the Premier League, pointing to a new deal signed with Garuda Indonesia.
Indonesia’s national airline has become Liverpool’s official training kit partner in a two-year deal announced on Monday, and scheduled to kick in from June. And Ayre said: “We haven’t been held back from concluding a deal by finances. The player decided he didn’t want to come to Liverpool.
“We will always compete for players and we know how far we are prepared to go. That’s something Brendan Rodgers, myself and the other people involved in pursuing transfers discuss openly.
“We won’t overpay for players, but when the right player is available for the right deal and wants to come here, they will come here. When it comes to transfers, you win some and you lose some, but it won’t be for a lack of ambition on our part.”
Ayre also said that the club are pushing on with negotiations to buy up and clear houses in the immediate vicinity of Anfield in order to clear the way for a stadium expansion.
Liverpool want to extend the Main Stand and Anfield Road End in order to increase capacity -- a move that the club confirmed in October 2012 -- but the managing director declined to put a timescale on when building work might start.
He said: “There are two or three hurdles we have to get over. The first is property, and we are making strides on that front. The second step is getting planning permission, and the third is construction.“If we get over each of those hurdles, we have the certainty to move things forward. What we don’t want to do is start promising things we can’t deliver, but we’re very pleased with the progress we’re making.”