Liverpool have just signed a replacement for Mohamed Salah without anyone realizing it - Liverpool Echo

Liverpool have just signed a replacement for Mohamed Salah without anyone realizing it – Liverpool Echo

Liverpool will once again have to go without Mohamed Salah in the new year, and the striker is likely to captain Egypt in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

With the final set to take place in Ivory Coast from January 13 to February 11, the 31-year-old could miss at least five games, four of which are in the Premier League, if the Pharaohs reach the final. Add in the progression in the FA Cup and League Cup, and such a total rises to eight games, with the possibility of replays in the former, even excluding Salah from a potential 10 appearances.

Salah missed six matches for his 2022 AFCON performance as he helped Egypt reach the final, only to lose to Sadio Mane on penalties from Senegal.

While there is no guarantee that the Pharaohs will reach the final again, or that Liverpool will progress to the FA Cup fourth round and League Cup semi-finals, he is poised for back-to-back league matches with Chelsea and Arsenal to be missed if Egypt qualifies for the knockout stage of the tournament.

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At the last edition of AFCON in 2022, Diogo Jota, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Takumi Minamino and Kaide Gordon would all start on the right in Salah’s absence. While the Portuguese remains an option, the former Arsenal player has just left at the end of his contract, the Japanese was sold to AS Monaco last summer and the teenager has not played since February 2022 due to injury.

Last season, Harvey Elliott would also take over in the Egyptian’s rare absence. With AFCON taking place in Ivory Coast in January and February, you would expect the England under-21 international and Jota to share Salah’s care, although Luis Diaz is also an option. Should he compete in the first team again after a long injury, Gordon could also be back in contention, although highly rated youngster Ben Doak, a contender himself, has arguably put him on the waiting list.

It is partly because of Doak why Liverpool are not looking for a new striker this summer, despite the departure of Roberto Firmino himself. Despite being only 17, the Reds don’t want to block the path and progress of the teenage right winger. Jota and Diaz.

Supporter pleas for an extra striker, along with a new senior right-back, are likely to be ignored as a result, with a third midfield signing and a left-wing centre-back instead the current priorities at Anfield. Liverpool bosses don’t have unlimited resources and ultimately have to choose their battles when it comes to which positions are most in need of reinforcement in Klopp’s squad.

However, Liverpool may have killed two birds with one stone thanks to their latest midfield signing – £60 million Dominik Szoboszlai.

The former RB Leipzig playmaker is incredibly versatile, capable of playing as number eight, number ten and on the flanks. Along with fellow summer signing Alexis Mac Allister at Anfield, the pair are expected to line up in the two advanced midfield roles in Klopp’s side, be it for a traditional number six in a 4-3-3 formation or at the top of the league. box engine room in the new set-up of Liverpool’s inverted full-back.

But while all the focus on The Reds’ summer activities is mainly on strengthening that midfield, it can’t be overlooked that Szoboszlai is also more than capable of acting as an alternative to Salah in the front three, despite that he is mostly in line. the opposite flank as a reverse forward cut from the left when used further forward in the past.

The Hungarian international is known for his long-range shooting and is therefore clearly suitable for that left-wing role. However, he would actually make 31 of his 46 appearances last season on the right wing as RB Leipzig switched between a three-man attack and going 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-2-2/4-4. -2 formations.

Of those 31 appearances, Szoboszlai would return a respectable eight goals and 12 assists.

Although he has limited experience in the 4-3-3 and 3-2-2-3 formations favored by Liverpool, playing time for Leipzig on the right last year suggests the Hungarian is likely to fill the advanced midfield role at the right for the Reds, linking up with both the reverse Trent Alexander-Arnold and Salah.

But in the absence of the Egyptian, Szoboszlai could well be the player best suited to fill the right wing role, rather than playing players like Jota or Diaz out of their favored positions. And the fact that the Hungarian also becomes the latest option to play on the left wing, alongside the aforementioned pairing, Nunez and Gakpo, in addition to his expected midfield role, only reiterates why Liverpool have signed the 22-year-old.

After all, Klopp likes a versatile player. The German is a former defender and striker himself, with a quick look at his Reds squad since taking over as manager in October 2015 made that preference very clear.

“James Milner can probably play around 13 positions. He would probably be first choice if all goalkeepers were out,” he said when speaking to Pro:Direct Soccer in 2019 about his own versatile players.

“Fabinho can play at least two, Trent can play a lot, so we have that. We don’t have that many specialists. People sometimes think it’s a weakness if you’re so versatile, because you think ‘Okay, I don’t have a permanent position, he puts me in there, there, there, then I’m out’.

“It is [a strength]. It especially helps in building a team. That helps a lot. Because you don’t have a specialist in these positions, you have three, four, five players who can play in very different positions, that helps a lot.”

In Szoboszlai, Klopp has not only signed the latest cog in the long-awaited revamp of Liverpool’s midfield, but also the latest ‘non-specialist’ to boast the strength he values ​​so highly.

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