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Liverpool

Mohamed Salah: Is Liverpool’s Egyptian star the best player in the world right now?

After his electric return to the Premier League with Liverpool, Mohamed Salah has quickly established himself as one of best, if not currently the best, players in world football, writes Martyn Cooke.

Martyn Cooke

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Mohamed Salah
Photo: Reuters

If I were to ask you who the best football player in the world is right now, who would you suggest?

Lionel Messi? Cristiano Ronaldo? Neymar?

It is hard to argue with those illustrious names. All three have performed consistently well throughout the season and are central to the success of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, respectively.

They provide goals, creativity, innovation and technical brilliance on a weekly basis and they are rightly regarded as three of the most iconic players of their generation.

Let me throw another name into the mix – Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

When the Egyptian forward arrived at Anfield in the summer there were few people that would have envisaged the remarkable impact that he has had both on the Premier League and in the Champions League this season.

In fact, there were raised eyebrows in some quarter’s that Jurgen Klopp had elected to spend £34 million on a player who had ‘flopped’ during his previous spell in English football with Chelsea three years previously.

However, Salah returned to the Premier League in the summer a vastly improved player when compared to the one that had to rebuild his career in Italy with Roma and Fiorentina.

The 25-year-old is now a genuine world class talent and his form throughout the current campaign has been nothing short of remarkable.

Salah has scored 31 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions this season and few other players have performed with the consistency and quality that the Egyptian has produced during his debut year at Anfield.

He has racked up 23 goals in the Premier League, at the time of writing equal with leading goal scorer Harry Kane, and is the second quickest player in Liverpool’s history to find the net 30 times for the club, with the record being held by George Allen in 1896.

To put Salah’s goal scoring feats into context, he has found the net more times this season for his club than Messi (30 goals), Ronaldo (28 goals) and Neymar (26).

Maybe the notion that he is one of the best players in the world this year, based on form, is not such a bold claim after all.

Salah appears to be the complete package.

The Egyptian has pace, strength and agility which is coupled with technical brilliance, creativity and a prolific instinct in front of goal.

He creates opportunities for other with his dynamic runs, intelligent movement and innovative passes whilst he has demonstrated throughout the campaign that he has the ability to convert any chances that are provided for him – whether they be 30-yard thunderbolts, mazy sola runs or calm finishes when face to face with a goalkeeper.

It is little wonder that Klopp places so much faith in the 25-year-old.

The Egyptian has helped to fire Liverpool to second in the Premier League table whilst the Reds are almost certain of progressing to the quarter finals of the Champions League having beaten Porto by five goals in the first leg of their last-sixteen tie.

There certainly seems to be no stopping Salah this campaign and it will intriguing to see if he can maintain his high level of performance over a prolonged period of time that covers two or three seasons.

If he can, then Liverpool will certainly enhance their chances of lifting silverware.

So, let me ask you again, who is the best football player in the world right now?

Maybe Mohamed Salah is worthy of consideration …

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Liverpool

Naby Keita’s Bundesliga struggles could prove crucial to Liverpool’s transfer window

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Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool‘s transfer business could be heavily influence by events in Germany over the final few weeks as reports indicate that the deal with RB Leipzig for Naby Keita could see the fee depend upon the German team’s league finish this season.

The Times say that a Champions League finish for Keita’s team will see the final fee cost Liverpool £59 million, whilst a Europa League place would see it lower to £52.75 million and seventh position or lower will see it fall as low as £48 million.

Leipzig’s woeful run of form has seen them lose two and draw one of their last three league games, being knocked out of the Europa League by Olympique Marseille in the process.

Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim have capitalised to climb above them, and now they may even struggle to make the Europa League with Eintracht Frankfurt hot on their heels only a point behind.

(Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Liverpool have already paid part of the fee for the midfielder, but a saving of £11 million is not to be sniffed at and could give Jurgen Klopp more money to spend in the summer.

The German coach is not expected to spend big to spark substantial changes at Anfield, but improvements are needed in some areas of the squad, such as in goal and in midfield, and £11 million could go a long way to bringing one of those in.

Given that Andrew Robertson joined for a fee believed to be in the region of £8 million, Liverpool fans would love the chance of making another such signing purely with the money saved by RB Leipzig’s struggles.

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Liverpool

“Pathetic”: Is Garth Crooks right to criticise Jurgen Klopp for Liverpool draw?

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Photo: Getty Images.

BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has hit out at Jurgen Klopp after the Reds were held to a 2-2 draw by West Brom, with Jake Livermore and Salomon Rondon cancelling out Liverpool‘s two goal lead.

In his BBC Sport Team of the Week column, Crooks slammed the Liverpool coach, criticising his tactics and team selection as well as his comments after the Baggies mounted a late comeback.

“Jurgen Klopp’s suggestion that the Albion pitch not being watered at half-time was somehow responsible for his team losing a two-goal lead is about as pathetic as it gets,” he wrote.

He also said that Liverpool “had two eyes firmly fixed on their mid-week Champions League game against Roma.”

“The Reds made five changes to their starting line-up, let a two-goal lead slip from their grasp and made a poor substitution.

“Yet manager Jurgen Klopp thinks he had nothing to do with this 2-2 result. Wow!”

It is hard to see exactly why Crooks took exception with such a move, given that even with the draw and assuming both Tottenham and Chelsea win their games in hand, Liverpool would still be in the top four by five points with three games left to play.

Given that, for the first time, all top four sides will qualify directly for the group stage, it is of little real consequence to the Reds if they finish in second or fourth and rotating is vital to have players fresh for a Champions League semi-final.

Klopp was criticised in 2016/17 for not rotating the likes of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, leading to injuries, but he seems to be managing his squad more effectively this campaign.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

In one piece of praise, Crooks was pleased to see the return of Danny Ings, as he said “It was great to see Danny Ings back in a Liverpool shirt and looking so effective.”

“Two years he spent recovering from injury and, from the look on his face, putting Liverpool 1-0 up must have felt like winning the lottery.

“Why Klopp took off the striker, I don’t know. Ings needs game time and was running Ahmed Hegazi ragged at the time.

“The West Brom central defender must have been delighted to see Ings substituted. Liverpool’s game started to fall apart the moment the striker left the field.”

In fact, this criticism is the most bizarre of them all. Ings played over an hour for only the second time since October 2015 and was taken off in the 66th minute, replaced by a capable alternative in Roberto Firmino.

Mohamed Salah doubled Liverpool’s lead after that point and it was almost a quarter of an hour before Jake Livermore halved the deficit. Whilst Ings may not have been on the field for the collapse, correlation does not equal causation and Liverpool taking their foot off the gas and poor defending were to blame, rather than a substitution.

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Championship

Conor Coady shows Liverpool what they’re missing in masterful Wolves campaign

The Wolves captain was tipped for big things at Liverpool but never made the grade.

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Back in 2011, Liverpool had one of their young starlets being tipped to become the ‘next Steven Gerrard.’ It was a tag being occasionally branded around the club about young talent Conor Coady. With good reason as well. The teenager was looking like the most natural successor to Gerrard yet.

The summer previous, he had helped England win the UEFA under-17 Championships, which is where the hype all began. Liverpool had unearthed a gem who immediately found himself tipped to become a future Kop captain.

But it never happened for the young man.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Instead, he headed to Sheffield United on loan – where he excelled. After getting a taste for regular football, the idea of returning to the reserve life with Liverpool clearly did not appeal to the utility man. Therefore, he left Liverpool in 2014, joining Huddersfield Town.

Liverpool fans soon forgot about him. Just another hyped up youngster who could not match the expectations laid at their door?

Well, this season Coady has finally looked like the real deal.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The Melwood talent did not stick with Huddersfield for long. In 2015 he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and he is now looking like the talent Liverpool thought they had at Molineux.

One issue with Coady has always been his position. Often moved around the park, this season he has played as a settled central defender. The results have been exceptional. Coady has been one of the best players in the Championship this campaign. That was highlighted by his inclusion in the Championship team of the season. The 25-year-old is now looking like a future Premier League star and will be playing in the big time next season after captaining Wolves to the Championship summit.

When Liverpool sold Coady to Huddersfield, they did so for a fee reported to be just £500,000 by the Liverpool Echo. The Reds obviously felt he would not live up to those once lofty expectations.

Based on his form this season, Liverpool could be rueing this mistake in the not so distant future.

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