Who to Replace Salah: Replacing the Irreplaceable

Jack Meenan
Read Time:12 Minute, 29 Second

On the 19th of December Mo Salah held an exclusive interview with AS, and with some of his comments, it sent the media into a frenzy with rumours sprouting that he may join Real Madrid or Barcelona.

With both clubs being unable to afford him due to the state of their finances, it’s safe to say that Mo will not be leaving any time soon while a move to either clubs is a step down from what Klopp has been building at Liverpool.

But a time will come where Salah will leave, so we will look at who could replace him ranging from cheap options to the worlds best, but we can all agree that no one will be able to match what Mo has achieved at Liverpool.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Cheap Alternatives:

You would think there would be no cheap alternatives to Salah due to his importance to the team, but that’s where you’re wrong. The 2 cheap options we are looking at are already at the club. One being Diogo Jota and the other being Harvey Elliot.

Diogo Jota

Diogo Jota’s impact since his arrival from Wolves for £45 million has been significant. He has been able to net 9 goals in 17 appearances before injury struck him down. He was originally brought in to be a back up to the famed front 3, but forced Klopp to play a front 4, with the other three being arguably undroppable.

But if Salah were to leave, Jota would be the no.1 pick to fill in that right wing spot to due to the energy and technical ability that he brings to the table, all which he has shown in his starts for Liverpool on the left.

By the time Salah decides to leave, Jota will be an ever better player than he is now. Thanks to his age and Klopp’s ability to develop players, he will be able to replace the Egyptian. If you are not one for splashing the cash, then Jota is the man to replace Salah.

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Harvey Elliot:

But, if you’re more the type for a homegrown player, then the choice is no other than academy graduate Harvey Elliot. Although Elliot is only 17, he has shown his potential with Blackburn. Where he has managed 4 goals and 8 assists in 20 games, which for a 17 year old in a tough league just shows how special he is.

In the long term he is an even better replacement for Salah due to the style of play that he offers. The low centre of gravity, trickery and preference to play on the right to cut in on the left have very similar connotations to Salah himself. A few more loan spells and appearances in the Premier League to gain more experience and Elliot has the ability to develop into one of the best wingers in the league as his brief cameos for Liverpool and appearances for Blackburn have shown. Just look at this assist:

The assist clearly shows his passing ability and his range of vision which is something you could argue that Liverpool need right now, but that is a different story. Elliot is definitely going to be a first team Liverpool player in the future, but it will be a good few years before we see the Chertsey Salah anywhere near the level of our very own Mo Salah.

Affordable Alternatives:

With the times we are living in right now, the finances off clubs will be greatly effected for a few years to come. So before we look at the blowing the bank signings, we will look at players that have similar metrics to Salah away from goals and assists.

The main areas we will look at are age, where we want a player below the age of 25. As well as pressing numbers, dribbles, passes and other skills seen in a Liverpool team. The past two seasons will be what we use to compare. As Salah numbers before then have been so ridiculous that he would blow the rest of them away.

The players that the club have looked at are from teams that play a similar style. Besides Adama Traore, the 3 other players are Marcus Thuram, Jonathan Bamba and Moussa Diaby, all surprisingly French.

Adama Traore:

Immediately from looking at Traore’s stats, he is nowhere near a replacement for Salah. Salah is by far the most prolific when it comes to goals and shooting averaging 3.79 shots per 90 and 0.66 goals per 90 compared to Traore’s 1.33 shots per 90 and 0.10 goals per 90, showing that he is not a renowned goal scorer. With goals mostly coming from the wings for Liverpool, Traore is unlikely to be a suitable replacement.

Passing wise they attempt similar amounts of passes with with Salah attempting 34.4 per 90 and Traore 32.3 per 90. However, Salah has been more accurate and progressive with his passes with a completion rate of 78% and 3.58 of his passes per 90 being progressive, while Traore averages a 65% completion rate and 2.19 progressive passes per 90.

Pressing wise Salah once comes out on top and is a more active presser. Applying pressure 15.6 times per 90 with a success rate of 33.1% compared to Traore with 13.4 pressures per 90 and a success rate of 27.8%.

So from these stats alone it is safe to say that Traore’s numbers are not even close to being comparable with Salah so that leaves him out of the running.

Jonathan Bamba:

One of the key pieces in Lille’s rise to the top of Ligue 1. Bamba has been included as due to the current financial situation at Lille he could be available for a lot cheaper than normal.

His teammate Jonathan Ikone is another option. Once again in the shooting department Bamba does not match up to Salah, averaging 0.17 goals per 90 and 1.97 shots per 90 compared to Salah’s 0.66 goals per 90 and 3.79 shots per 90. It needs to be acknowledged that most of the players we are comparing to Salah are not the main goal-scorers at their clubs .

Creativity

Passing wise however, Bamba offers a greater creative edge than Salah. He makes 3.84 progressive passes per 90 out of this 45.2 per 90 which is greater than Salah in every way compared to his 3.58 progressive passes and 34.4 passes. But with Bamba playing more passes in general his progressive passes would be more likely inflated.

Finally, if we look at pressing numbers of Bamba, they are not to dissimilar to Salah, with Salah averaging 15.6 per 90 with a success of 33.1% and Bamba himself averaging 14.4 per 90 with a success rate of 29.2.

Bamba is a young alternative sitting at just 24, and with Lille going through financial situation would be a useful addition to the team due to his cheaper price tag.

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Moussa Diaby:

A key piece in the high flying, high pressing Bayer Leverkusen side. His form this season, should definitely show that he has the potential to improve greatly.

Similar to the previous alternatives, Diaby is not the main goalscorer for Leverkusen with his 3 goals and 4 assists. But neither was Salah when he joined from Roma.

His lack of goalscoring can be seen with his shots, where he only averages 2.09 per 90, which is greater than the previous two, but only averages 0.22 goals per 90 which is a lot less than Salah.

Diaby does however complete more passes than Salah averaging 35.3 per 90 and is only slightly less accurate with 74.2%. His progressive passes are also lower being at 2.21 per 90, but the majority of the burden there is left to Nadim Amiri and Florian Writz (who is a player Liverpool should not miss out on to sign). Diaby is also a less active presser of the ball.

Averaging 11.4 per 90 with a mere success rate of 28.4 which is similar to that of Traore. Diaby is another option who may not be top of peoples lists. He would be 3rd on my list of the 4 options due to his lack of pressing.

Marcus Thuram:

My number one pick out of the 4, not because I have a soft spot for Borussia Monchengladbach, or that I have mentioned him in my previous work and am trying to drill it into people that he is the heir to one of the front threes thrones.

But because his numbers genuinely prove that he deserves to be there. Straight away Thuram’s numbers are better than the others when it comes to shots and goals, averaging 2.50 per 90 and 0.4 per 90, both the 2nd highest after Salah.

Passing wise his numbers are lower due to his tendency to dribble more, attempting only 29.0 per 90 with a success rate of 68%. Additionally, only 2.19 of his passes have been progressive per 90 as well.

The pressing numbers are where Thuram really stands out. Marco Rose’s Gladbach team are one who rely on pressing, and Thuram is one of the players that leads the press, due to his athleticism.

Which comes with being the son of Lillian Thuram. Thuram presses more than Salah, averaging 17.8 per 90, which is greater than Salah’s 15.6, but with Thuram pressing more it does mean that he is slightly less successful, averaging a 26% success rate compared to Salah’s 33.1%.

Overall, the stats themselves show how great of a player Thuram is. He has the ability to improve greatly over the next few years and moving from Marco Rose to Jurgen Klopp is a natural step due to their similarity in philosophies

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Expensive Options:

Now these are the big money signings who are once in a generation and will require a large fee. One of these signings will only be possible if one of the front 3 leave. The impact on the wage structure and financies as a whole will be significant. But if Liverpool were to sign one of these players they will take them to the next level.

Kylian Mbappe:

The first option has been touted to move to Liverpool ever since the Nike kit deal, that being Kylian Mbappe. Other signs pointing to his movement to Liverpool being his comments made to the BBC about Liverpool being a machine last year. Also, this year with his collaboration with minority shareholder, and fellow Nike athlete, Lebron James on his basketball shoes. So the signs have been promising.

Mbappe is a versatile player as he is able to play across the front line, mainly preferring to play on the left wing to allow him to cut in. This season has not been one of the best from Mbappe. However, it has still seen him score 14 goals and 6 assists in Ligue 1 this season in 17 games. This shows that while he may be under performing, he is still putting up great numbers.

Along with his clinical finishing ability, Mbappe is blessed with blistering pace a weapon which would be useful to Liverpool. The one issue that Mbappe needs to address however is his ability to be a big game player.

This is an issue that has persisted his whole career but became most notable during the mini tournament in Lisbon for the Champions League. There he was relatively quite albeit he was coming off an injury.

This was more prominent when in the final vs Bayern Munich. He missed several key chances which would of given PSG the lead in a tight game

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Under a manager that has the quality of developing players like Klopp, the issues in Mbappe’s game would be addressed. A move to Liverpool would see Mbappe’s potential to become one of the best in the world come to fruition. A future front 3 could be Mbappe-Jota-Elliot, which is a sight to be scared of if you ask me.

Erling Braut Haaland:

Two years ago Haaland was still relatively unknown. Until at the 2019 u20 World Cup, Norway played Honduras who they beat12-0. What was interesting was the fact that Haaland had scored nine of those 12. This made the world sit up and take notice.

Liverpool got a front seat to how promising he could be with his performances in the Champions League, most notably his presence in the 4-3 against Salzburg at Anfield. He would then move to Dortmund where he hit the ground running, and the amount of goals he has scored has been outstanding.

In the second half of the Bundesliga last season, he scored 13 goals in 15 games. This was a ratio that was only beaten by Robert Lewandowski. This season he has continued this form, scoring 14 in 13. So far he is third in goal scoring rankings behind Robert Lewandowski and Andre Silva.

Change In Style

Haaland would be a different than any other Liverpool player. One that has the ability to be a big game changer. In a poor Dortmund team, he has been one of the only shining lights, single handedly winning them games. This is the type of player Liverpool would cherish if someone the calibre of Salah leaves.

Haaland’s pace and height are both attributes that would benefit Liverpool due to their current style of play. As he would be lethal on the counter and when initiating the press while also being a target for crosses. Haaland’s left-foot is a weapon that should be handled carefully, as it holds enough power to burst the net.

The clinical edge that Haaland has in the area is something that Liverpool lack. This would be greatly welcomed especially if they lose someone as clinical as Salah.

The passing side of Haaland’s game still needs to be improved. However, that is something that takes time, and if he moves to Liverpool, a skill that he would not need as much.

Similar to Mbappe, Haaland would improve greatly under a coach like Klopp. The striker would be a better option for Liverpool than Mbappe, as he posesses qualities that Mbappe does not. One could consider Erling a greater game changer than Mbappe.

If only we lived in a world where we can afford both of them.

My future front 3 would be Thuram-Haland-Elliot with Jota in behind, so really a front 4…

But it would be interesting to see what you think so let me know in the comments?

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