Salah will add pace, dynamism and directness to an already impressive Liverpool outfit…
Sky Bet have suspended betting on FC Basel’s winger Mohamed Salah joining Liverpool in the January transfer window…
It looks as though the 21-year-old will arrive at Anfield for around £7m, which could be a huge bargain if he can translate his 17 strikes in 26 international appearances into Premier League goals.
Here at fanatix, we’ve taken a look at just how Salah will fit into Brendan Rodgers’ free flowing side…
Where will Salah play…?
Like most modern, attacking wingers, Salah is most comfortable playing in an advanced position on the ‘wrong’ flank. He’s left-footed, but prefers to start from the right where he can cut in and shoot, much like Arjen Robben does for Bayern Munich.
He naturally fits into a 4-2-3-1, or a 4-3-3 formation – both of which have been deployed by Brendan Rodgers this season.
With Salah in the lineup, here’s how the Reds could start in January until Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard return from injury:
Here, Liverpool would stick with the triumvirate of Henderson, Allen and Lucas in midfield until Gerrard returns from injury.
Salah effectively replaces Sterling in the lineup, but Liverpool could also field a more attacking lineup with both Sterling and Salah that would maximise the pacey wide oppositions now at their disposal.
This formation has many benefits. It enables Coutinho to play centrally, where he is undoubtedly at his creative best, and increases the goal threat of Sterling by playing him from the left. In this aspect, both wingers can cut in and shoot on their favoured feet, while superstar striker Luis Suarez will be more than willing to feed on any scraps as a result.
Henderson will have to tame his attacking instincts in the two man midfield though, and the side will lose the passing of Allen in the centre of the park. If they can get the ball wide quickly enough, this will not be an issue when going forward, but will mean Coutinho will have to drop deep and help defensively when the opposition are in possession.
What about when Gerrard and Sturridge return from injury…?
Although this team looks promising, there’s no way Rodgers will not restore Gerrard and Sturridge, two of Liverpool’s best players, to the starting lineup once they return from injury…
Both should be match fit by February, ready for the final months of Liverpool’s top four push.
Here’s how they could all fit alongside Salah…
Football formations are nowhere near as rigid as many make out (especially under a manager like Brendan Rodgers), and this system would change and vary as players switched between defending and attacking.
In its essence though, it enables Sturridge to continue his partnership with Suarez up top, but from a slightly withdrawn role. Although he would prefer to play centrally, deploying him in this positioning would likely benefit a side which includes Salah on the right.
Coutinho can still play as a number 10, but will drift to the left when Sturridge moves centrally.
Gerrard comes in and plays the anchorman role instead of Lucas, as he’s a much better passer, and also offers a brilliant set-piece delivery. Henderson should retain his place, but will have to do an awful lot of leg work in midfield alongside the ageing Gerrard.
If the Reds are struggling to retain shape and possession, one of the attacking players could be substituted for either Allen or Lucas to help shore up the midfield.
So there you have it…
Does the imminent Salah signing make Liverpool genuine title hopefuls…?