Liverpool are closing in on the £35 million signing of Roma attacker Mohamed Salah
According to multiple reports, Liverpool are on the cusp of completing the signing of Egyptian front-man Mohamed Salah. Despite conflicting stories, the fee is understood to be in the region of £35 million, and the Reds are poised to make him their first signing of the summer.
The 24-year-old is a former Chelsea player who failed to impress during his first stint in the Premier League. Under then manager Jose Mourinho, Salah struggled for game time, and played just 838 minutes of first-team football for the London outfit.
Two years hence, and Salah is one of Europe’s finest marksmen as he has gone on from being a Chelsea flop to a ferocious striker in the Serie A for AS Roma. He is now one of the continent’s hottest prospects, and is expected to be on his way to Anfield to join forces with Jurgen Klopp.
The German has adopted a counter-pressing or gegenpressing, as he likes to call it, approach to matches in the Premier League. His team plays at a high tempo and after losing the ball they fight twice as hard to win it back, rather than maintaining their shape.
It works wonders offensively, but leaves the team threadbare at the back. The system worked well initially as Liverpool were successfully outscoring their opponents, but once injuries started to kick in, Klopp shifted to a more conservative approach.
Now, with Salah’s imminent arrival it could all change for the German. He could once again instill the philosophy that won him plaudits during his days at the Signal Iduna Park with Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.
The Eyptian possesses pace and a gameplay akin to Sadio Mane, who tore Premier League defences apart this past season – his first one in a Liverpool jersey. Due to Mane’s pace and sublime movement off the ball, the Reds had an option of passing into open spaces.
Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool did play an attacking brand of football, but seldom did they exploit the flanks to devastating effect. Raheem Sterling did have the guile to burst through, but his physicality often let him down.
In Mane, Liverpool got the complete winger cum inside forward, and may be settling for another player that is similar to the Senegalese. Salah has the strength advantage, is well built, and is tailor-made for Premier League football.
The Egyptian has played 81 games in the Serie A for Fiorentina and Roma, and at both clubs he has been a menace in front of goal. He has bagged 35 goals and 20 assists during the span – a feat that very few players in Europe can match or better.
Barring his torrid time at Chelsea, Salah has done an exceptional job for a 24-year-old to prove himself on the European stage. The Egyptian may turn out to be another one of Chelsea’s regrets as he is destined to succeed at Anfield.
While he may be erratic in finishing and could go missing for spells in matches, he makes up for it by putting in a shift, running both ways to recover possession. He is one of the hardest working players on the field – something Klopp instills in his teams.
The German has fielded a 4-3-3 for the majority of the season, and if he decides against changing the system, there could be two ways that Salah could be added to the fold. He could either play on the left of the front three, or lead the line and play as a Firmino-esque false nine.
Given the way Klopp thinks, he is likely to play him on the left flank, moving Philippe Coutinho on the left side of the midfield three. The Brazilian may have been devastating playing as a left inside forward, but Salah is arguably a better fit in that position.
Fielding him there would make Liverpool ruthless on the counter attack as Mane and Salah boast an excruciating amount of pace, and can cover the length of the field within seconds. They are tireless runners, hoping to give all they can so as to benefit the team.
Salah is predominantly a winger, but is threatening when played down the middle as well. He may not have the best of first touches, but his hold up play is exemplary, and he does a decent job in getting his teammates into the game.
His minutes-to-goals ratio diminishes when he is deployed centrally, but he becomes that much more creative than he is when played out wide. In fact, 71.8 percent of his chances this season came from central positions.
Ideally, the best thing Klopp can do, given his current crop of players is to play the traditional 4-2-3-1. This system could help him get the best out of all of his current three attacking options as well as Salah.
Coutinho can be fielded in the hole behind the Firmino who will lead the line. Salah and Mane will play on either flanks with full-backs overlapping them, creating an overload in attack for Liverpool.
Due to the pace the two wingers possess, they can even track back during counter-attacks, and be the utility players for Klopp’s ultra attacking system at Anfield for the upcoming 2017/18 campaign.