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Jurgen Klopp

Salah-Klopp fallout – will Liverpool sell their star player?

Liverpool lost further ground in the Premier League title race as the Reds were held to a 2-2 draw by West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.

The clash confirmed what everyone had known for weeks – that Liverpool had run out of steam for the run-in.

However, the post-match spotlight wasn’t solely on the dropped points. A heated exchange between manager Jurgen Klopp and star player Mohamed Salah on the touchline stole headlines.

Salah’s Struggles and Klopp’s Choice

Klopp had put the Egyptian forward on the bench for the game against the Hammers and only turned to him in the second half when the Reds were desperate for a goal.

Salah has been poor since returning from his injury lay-off in March. The 31-year-old had marked his return with goals against Sparta Prague, Manchester United (FA Cup), and Brighton & Hove Albion.

However, Salah has not scored in Liverpool’s last six games, his last coming from the penalty spot against United in the Premier League.

Liverpool’s capitulation in this title chase has stemmed from their profligacy in front of goal, with attackers like Salah, Darwin Nunez, and Luis Diaz misfiring.

In the shocking 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at Anfield, they were slow out of the blocks, but they fought back into the game and had a plethora of chances to turn the scoreline around. They recorded a 2.08 xG compared to their opponent’s 1.67. 

Liverpool created several chances against Palace, but they squandered the opportunities. Nunez failed to bury one particularly excellent opening, and ex-Red Nathaniel Clyne denied Diogo Jota a clear-cut goal. 

Wataru Endo and Curtis Jones were also guilty of failing to convert from close range. Eberechi Eze’s strike in the 13th minute was the difference between the two sides. 

Salah was a passenger in the game against the Eagles and followed it with another anonymous showing against Atalanta in the second leg of their Europa League clash

Despite scoring a penalty against La Dea, he won only one of his five duels, missed one big chance, completed only 72% of his passes, and lost possession ten times.

Consequently, Klopp benched Salah for the game against Fulham, and the Reds managed a 3-1 win over the Cottagers. 

He returned to the line-up for the Merseyside derby and struggled again, missing one big chance while winning none of his duels. 

Klopp decided to sit him on the bench for the West Ham game, and Salah did not look happy coming on as a substitute, exchanging words with the manager. Nunez had to play peacemaker.

A Frustrated Star and a Delicate Situation

Salah was understandably angry at being benched against the Hammers. He is the most prolific goalscorer in Liverpool versus West Ham history with 11 goals (in 14 appearances).

The public spat with Klopp and poor form only adds fuel to the fire of speculation surrounding Salah’s future. The Liverpool legend is in the final 18 months of his contract, and the club has a massive decision to make.

Do they try to cash in on Salah, who has bagged 210 in 346 appearances for the club or renew his deal into his mid-thirties amid a drop-off?

Cashing in on him could generate a massive transfer fee with Saudi Pro League side Al Ittihad interested. They made a jaw-dropping £200 million bid for him in September, and they will return for him this summer.

Liverpool could use that sum for squad investment and a potential rebuild.

However, letting go of a player who has been instrumental in the club’s recent success is a risky proposition. It will be difficult to find a suitable replacement who can replicate his impact.

The other option is to offer Salah a contract extension. This option would keep a proven goalscorer and fan favourite at Anfield. But there are concerns. 

Salah will be in his mid-thirties soon, and his recent form suggests a potential decline. The club must determine if his massive wages will be justified by his future output.

Further complicating matters is the potential impact on team morale. If Salah feels undervalued, it can create a rift within the dressing room. Equally, fans may be disgruntled if a club legend is cast aside.

A New Manager, A New Era

With Klopp leaving and Arne Slot taking the reins at Anfield, Liverpool’s Salah situation takes on a new dimension. Slot might influence the decision to sell or keep him.

If Slot believes he can revive Salah and integrate him into his system, it can pave the way for a contract extension. Salah’s goalscoring ability is uncommon in the market, and his experience could be invaluable to a new manager.

However, if Slot prefers a different type of forward or feels a rebuild is necessary, Salah’s time at Anfield might be coming to an end. 

Slot’s assessment of the squad and his tactical vision will likely play a major role in determining the Egyptian King’s future.

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