As the numbers escalated, and the football world concluded Liverpool could not prevent the imminent exit of their star player, Jurgen Klopp issued a ‘read my lips’ style proclamation.

“What they offer in the end doesn’t matter,” he said.

“From a financial standpoint, there is no price limit to let him go. No price at which we are ready to give in.”

John W. Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, had earlier read from the same script. “I’m unequivocal that we won’t sell whatever the bid is,” he announced.

These words were not bellowed in response to Saudi Arabia’s showy £150 million bid for Mohamed Salah. Klopp was talking in the summer of 2017 when Barcelona made their first move for Philippe Coutinho.

Henry’s remarks in 2013 were directed at Arsenal who seemed confident they would sign Luis Suarez for £40 million and £1.

As the Saudi transfer window closed on Thursday, Liverpool were driving along a well-travelled road. Hence, there are solid grounds to assume where it leads next in the Saudi chase for Salah.

The trend is for Liverpool to passionately resist now and reluctantly sell later.

Within a year of Klopp and Henry’s statements, both Coutinho and Suarez were gone, defiance eventually surrendering to pragmatic reality amid extraordinary offers and increasingly hostile tactics from the players and their representatives.

Coutinho left for £142 million six months after his transfer request. Suarez stayed another year before Barcelona paid £75 million.

We know the Saudis covet Salah with the passion of a child who will not yield until a favourite toy is theirs. They are entitled to presume they will get what they want in the end. But by refusing to deal this summer, Liverpool have made a canny and valuable purchase of their own. Time.

As when Suarez and Coutinho left, there will be a situation in the near future when conditions are favourable for Liverpool to sell Salah.

Offers for the South Americans in the summers of 2013 and 2017 were more attractive in 2014 and 2018. Had Liverpool not sold Coutinho, for example, they would never have been able to afford a then world-record transfer for a goalkeeper in Alisson Becker. Fabinho’s arrival in 2018 was probably related to Coutinho’s sale, too.

The size of the Saudi bid for Salah was breathtaking. It was the timing of it days before the closing of the European transfer deadline that made it unpalatable.

Come next summer, £150 million bids for a player about to turn 32 and with a year left on his contract will feel like a lottery win rather than an unwanted, potentially destabilising distraction.

The Merseyside club must already be assessing who should be on their right wing for the start of the 2025-26 season, when Salah’s deal runs out. The contingency plan in the event of having to react sooner should be polished and ready by the end of this season.

But that was always for the future.

Without Salah, Liverpool’s immediate chances of a return to the Champions League would diminish. The club earned £103 million from reaching the Champions League final in 2022, so whatever the short-term benefit from Salah’s sale risked a longer-term sacrifice.

Replacing him in the 48 hours after the £150 million bid was also nigh on impossible. Every club Liverpool approached to fill the void would immediately have added £50 million to their asking price. Liverpool have been encountering this all summer, staggered that their valuations of promising players have been met with absurd responses. On at least two occasions, Liverpool reacted with daft, over-emotional bids of their own for Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia.

Even Klopp did not sound entirely comfortable with the idea of spending that much. Ridiculous as it sounds, £150 million does not stretch far in the current Premier League market. Without anyone lined up, a sale would have undermined a promising start to the season and provoked fierce criticism from those who would have accused Fenway Sports Group of putting profits before ambition.

By the start of next summer’s transfer window, Liverpool, Klopp and even those supporters who worship Salah will be thinking with their hearts more than brains if they turn down £150 million. Liverpool will hope to be back in the Champions League by then, with their recent signings settled and some exciting teenagers more experienced.

Even so, there should be caution before presuming the Salah story will follow the same choreography as Suarez and Coutinho. The professionalism of the Egyptian in respecting Liverpool’s response rather than demanding a move is commendable and in stark contrast to how his coveted predecessors reacted when Liverpool initially refused to budge.

Suarez was sent by Brendan Rodgers to train with Academy players, while Coutinho developed a back strain which only seemed to affect him when the transfer window was open. Klopp eventually decided Liverpool could flourish without Coutinho, restructuring the side. Salah is much more of a team player, despite his occasional moans after being subbed, and his determination to keep taking the penalties having missed three of his last five.

Only the naive will believe Salah was unaware a Saudi bid was forthcoming last week. Had Liverpool blinked it would have left the club vulnerable to a concerted briefing campaign with the blame game focused on a club willing to let their star go. We will never know how that chess game would have played out. Klopp and FSG’s vision was unblurred.

And despite the riches he has missed out on – temporarily, at least – Salah knows his footballing ambitions are still best served in the Premier League. With respect, Al-Ittihad are not Barcelona and the Saudi Pro league still resembles a retirement home.

The Saudis have unlimited wealth and ambition. What they do not yet possess is a football project tempting enough for a world class footballer at his peak to desperately force a transfer.

In keeping Salah, Liverpool have demonstrated that resistance is not futile, thus ensuring their most coveted player will only leave according to the club’s preferred timeline and on the manager’s terms.

The Saudis inadvertently sowed the seeds of their failure on this occasion by making it clear this was never a ‘take it or leave it’ offer for Salah and Anfield club.

Liverpool have been able to leave it now in the knowledge they will have the opportunity to take it later.