Liverpool are braced for a firm offer from Al Ettifaq for Jordan Henderson but will resist any attempts to prise their captain away on the cheap.
The Reds skipper is understood to be open to a move to Saudi Arabia, where he would link up with Anfield legend Steven Gerrard.
But Al Ettifaq must now agree a fee with Liverpool if they are to realise their aim of bringing Henderson to Dammam this summer.
Sources close to the Saudi club have suggested to This Is Anfield that their preference would be to strike a cut-price deal, with a free transfer even mooted.
The logic is that option might appeal to the Reds on the basis of a desire to get the 33-year-old’s wages off the books as they continue a rebuild – Henderson earns a reported £190,000 per week, saving Liverpool almost £20 million over the remaining two years of his contract.
However, it is understood that Liverpool will stand firm in negotiations for a player who still forms part of Jurgen Klopp‘s plans for the new season.
They have little desire to give away their skipper, a current England international with two years remaining on his current contract.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s £20 million move from Chelsea to Al Hilal earlier this month has been privately cited as a potential benchmark in any negotiations.
It remains to be seen whether Al Ettifaq will meet those expectations, though the lofty sums they are reported to have offered Henderson will do little to strengthen their negotiating stance.
The Saudi Pro League outfit are said to have offered to quadruple the midfielder’s current deal should he make the move.