It looks like that Liverpool are close to sign the highly rated winger Mohamed Salah who has made a huge impact for Roma last season on a £35 million deal. The transfer has been rumored and broadly discussed by the media and the pundits for almost a month. Do Liverpool really need the gifted Egyptian player, however?
Pros on Salah’s transfer to Liverpool
On paper, Liverpool are the perfect team for the fast winger who has blossomed in Italy, scoring 29 times in 65 appearances for AS Roma between 2015 and 2017. Add to these another 6 goals, netted in 16 games he played for Fiorentina in 2015. We also need to give Salah credit for his 2 goals scored in 13 games, he played for Chelsea.
Mohamed Salah is very, very fast player. According to BeIN Sports, quoted by ThisIsAnfield website, he has completed 70 meters run for 7 seconds in Roma’s 2-1 win over his former club Fiorentina in 2015. In theory, this means that Salah should be capable of finishing on 100 meters distance for 10 seconds or even less, which sounds unbelievable. It is something that only the worlds top ten athletic sprinters can achieve. Historically, only 123 athletes went past the 10-second barrier in 100 meter sprint.
The player’s speed combined with his technical abilities should scare Liverpool’s opponents and their defenders in particular. Liverpool have Saido Mane on the right side and he has already created a havoc in the defensive lines of most Premier League teams last season. So just imagine what Salah and Mane could do, playing on both flanks of the Liverpool’s attack.
Another good reason for Liverpool to sign Mohamed Salah is that he both scores goals and creates a lot of opportunities for his teammates. Last season he has made 11 assistances in all 29 games, he played in Serie A. Salah has also assisted for a number of goals by headers, which is really good for a player who is 5 feet 74 (1.75 meters) tall.
Mohamed Salah is not a typical winger, despite being deployed on the flanks on a number of occasions. He can play as second striker in 4-4-2 formation or even as number 10 in certain games. The Egyptian is also very good operating with the ball in a packed area. This means he would create chances and score goals, by stealing the ball in the planetaria. He has an excellent pass accuracy, which means that if he plays alongside Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Mane, Danile Sturridge and Divock Origi, Liverpool would increase their overall accuracy in attack and front of the goal.
Within the last two seasons Philippe Coutinho’s position was on the left side of the Liverpool’s attack, mostly in a 4-3-3 formation. He has played as Number 10 on few occasions and he was really good there. So, if Mohamed Salah establishes himself as left winger in the Red’s attack, Jurgen Klopp could comfortably move Coutinho to the number 10 position.
Cons on Liveverpool signing Salah?
Let’s start with the fact that Liverpool already have a fast and productive player on the right flank – Sadio Mane. Mohamed Salah’s best position is also on the right side of the attack, where he likes crossing into the penalty area and shooting with his favored left foot. So, unless Jurgen Klopp deploys Salah on the left or somehow manages to rotate him and Mane on both flanks, the Egyptian’s arrival would result in a player who duplicates Sadio Mane’s qualities.
As mentioned above in the “Pros”, with Salah on the left and Mane on the right, Philippe Coutinho would be switched to play as Number 10. This would probably change the Liverpool’s formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, 4-5-1 (or occasionally 3-4-3) or even to 3-5-2. Why?
Playing with two fast wingers, supported by Philippe Coutinho in a middle would make Klopp switching into a diamond in attack. This means that there would be only one striker upfront. So Robeto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi would compete for one position or would be replacement players on the flanks. It also means that Liverpool would need to play with at least two strong central midfielders, who operate in front of the defense and block the opponents in attack.
Well, on the pitch the things are very different from what anyone would suggest in the media, and Jurgen Klopp has much better idea of what to do with his side, than anyone else. However, he would still need to balance his team and to choose between different tactical formations. Last year Firmino, who has always been a midfielder, played in attack as false 9 on a number of occasions, despite that Daniel Sturridge was available for selection on the bench. Starting from August, if Salah arrives at Anfield, Klopp might choose to play Roberto Firmino as midfielder in a 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-5-1 or in 3-5-2 formation.
However, no one would pay £35 million for a player, just to put him on the bench. Mohamed Salah would be bought to play, which means that any of the top quality, proven offensive players in the likes of Mane, Coutinho, Firmino or Sturridge would end up having less game time. Daniel Sturridge’s minutes have been limited in season 2016/2017 due to injuries. Now, when the club’s captain Jordan Henderson is back in contention and with Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Emre Can and James Milner competing for the stating eleven, some of the Liverpool’s offensive players would get less minutes on the pitch then they want.
However, Liverpool will compete on many fronts starting from August, with Premier League, Champions League football and Cup games in the Reds’ fixtures. If the Reds are enjoying a good season in most important competitions, then everyone would be happy, despite that they;d play a little bit less than they want to. Success is probably the most important thing, even more important than the money the top players would earn. So, at the end of the day, Mohamed Salah’s arrived to Liverpool might prove to be a success!