Liverpool have eight ‘better’ options than Leroy Sané to replace Mohamed Salah

Liverpool seem unlikely to go for Leroy Sané. He does at least match the profile of Mohamed Salah, but even then there are better contenders out there.

Links between Liverpool and Leroy Sané are curious. Rarely has a mooted transfer made so much and so little sense at the same time.

On one hand, Sané has finally found the sort of consistency needed to be a truly top player, and is delivering every week at a high level for Bayern Munich.

Like Mohamed Salah, the man he would ultimately be replacing, he is a left-footed winger with experience on the right. He has already excelled with a team at the top end of the Premier League — as Liverpool will remember all too well. He’s even into the last two years of his contract.

But it’s far from a no-brainer for Liverpool. First and foremost, Sané is turning 28 in January. That might make him an ideal ‘stopgap’ until someone like Ben Doak can take over the Salah role, but FSG would be shelling out an awful lot in wages and transfer fees for a temporary solution.

And while Sané might be delivering week-in, week-out at the minute, there are worries whether that would survive a move to a new club, given that he has always had a tendency to blow hot and cold. Similarities with Salah categorically fail here, given how the Egyptian has been a bastion of consistency at Liverpool.

Ultimately, Jürgen Klopp would be accepting a lot of trade-offs in order to land such a good stylistic match for Salah. But FBref actually believes that eight players are a closer fit for the Liverpool talisman — so would any of them make more sense?

Moussa Diaby (Aston Villa)
I’ve been banging this particular drum for a while. Simply watching him play will tell you that Moussa Diaby is among the best possible style matches for Salah, and FBref agrees, ranking him at the very top of the list.

Unfortunately, his summer move to Aston Villa complicates the picture greatly. Allowed to stay at Bayer Leverkusen for a surprisingly long time, Liverpool nonetheless missed the chance to snap him up at a reasonable price, and the cash-rich Midlands side would now demand a huge figure for the Frenchman, who has started excellently at his new club.

Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund)
Looking at Borussia Dortmund, it’s easy to assume Karim Adeyemi would be the candidate to replace Salah. He’s certainly got the pace and trickery.

But while Adeyemi may well be a legitimate option, he’s not the closest Salah match at the Westfalenstadion. That, apparently, is Donyell Malen.

Like Cody Gakpo, he emerged at PSV, scoring 40 goals across 81 league games before earning his move to the Bundesliga. Malen has taken a little while to settle, but his output is gradually trending in the right direction: five league goals and six assists in his debut year became nine and seven last season, while he has already found the net three times in the current campaign. At 24 years of age, he has plenty of time to scale that up further, and ranks among the more realistic options for Liverpool.

Vinicius Júnior (Real Madrid)
No need to spend too much time on this one. Vinicius Júnior would be one of the few who could replicate Salah both in terms of play style and star quality, but for that very reason he is almost certainly out of reach.

Strangely, a new deal for the Brazilian at Real Madrid has still not been made official, despite a report from AS that it was completed months ago. That contract apparently contains a $1.05bn (£870m/€1bn) release clause.

Ferran Torres (Barcelona)
So it turns out Sané might not even be the best former Manchester City winger to replace Salah at Liverpool. Ferran Torres didn’t make a massive impression in his unexpectedly brief stint at the Etihad, but the 23-year-old is worthy of consideration.

Even with the departure of Ousmane Dembélé, Torres is still far from the first name on Xavi’s team sheet. He has three league goals this season, and they have come from just 366 minutes, the equivalent of around four games.

Used across the front line, all of those goals have come from the right wing. If Torres remains on the periphery of Xavi’s plans, perhaps a post-Salah Liverpool could be a tempting proposition.

Marco Asensio (PSG)
It’s safe to assume Marco Asensio will not be on Liverpool’s Salah watchlist. The Spaniard was available on a free transfer in the summer, and FSG did not make a move.

That said, there may be a hint of regret at not exploring that possibility, with the 27-year-old still in his prime. PSG took the gamble, and have been rewarded with three goal involvements in three games, although injury has since sidelined Asensio.

Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Much like Diaby, this one is purely a case of ‘too late’ for Liverpool. Klopp is a vocal admirer of Gabriel Martinelli, but Arsenal got its act well and truly together before there was an opportunity to pry him away from the Emirates.

Signing a new deal earlier this year, he is now under contract until 2027. That’s far from a lifetime deal for the 22-year-old, and Liverpool will no doubt continue to watch from afar, but he won’t be available to come in and replace Salah any time soon.

Son Heung-min (Spurs)
Staying in North London, it’s a similarly implausible transfer. At 31, the time for an audacious raid for Son Heung-min has come and gone.

Much like Sané, any similarity in style to Salah is outweighed by other factors, principally age. Add in the fact that Spurs are now relying on Son as a key part in the post-Harry-Kane era, and this is clearly a non-starter.

Raheem Sterling (Chelsea)
Now this would be quite something, wouldn’t it? Liverpool obviously know Raheem Sterling very well, with the English forward leaving for Manchester City in acrimonious circumstances in 2015.

Remarkably, he could still come in and be an ‘heir’ to Salah, despite leaving two years before the Egyptian arrived. That underlines just how young Sterling was when he broke through at Anfield.

But if Liverpool was going to entertain this notion, it would surely have been last summer, before Sterling moved to Chelsea. Turning 29 later this year, he would not be a long-term option, and it certainly wouldn’t be worth the potential fallout.




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