Mohamed Salah

Who could replace Mohamed Salah at Liverpool this summer?

It is going to be a baptism of fire for Richard Hughes at Liverpool.

The new sporting director needs to oversee the first post-Jurgen Klopp transfer window and ensure that Arne Slot, the German tactician’s very likely successor, is equipped with a squad capable of competing next season.

He also needs to sit down and figure out what is going on with top scorer Mohamed Salah, skipper Virgil van Dijk and vice-captain Trent Alexander-Arnold. The trio will be into the final 12 months of their deals when this current campaign comes to an end.

Hughes will either need to do his best to bring in a big fee if they are to depart or negotiate a contract that works for all parties involved without tying the club to obscene salaries.

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk is entering the final 12 months of his deal

If that wasn’t enough, Hughes and the recruitment team at Anfield might feel now is the time to finally pull the trigger on bringing in a long-term successor to Salah, regardless of whether he is staying or not.

The three-time Golden Boot winner is 32 in June and at some point, the Reds are going to have to contemplate life without the former Roma man.

He’s already shown signs this season that his powers may be on the wane. Salah is still the club’s top scorer and he leads the way for assists, but he picked up his first real injury during the African Cup of Nations and then re-injured himself in his first game back for the Reds.

The No11 is still impacting games but his general play isn’t what fans have gotten used to over the years.

He could just be a little rusty after his stint on the sidelines. It could be that the many, many minutes racked up over the years have finally caught up to him.

Mohamed Salah's Premier League stats

It is too early to confidently say one way or another, but it won’t really matter to Liverpool in the grand scheme of things.

Those in charge of these decisions know that at best, Salah will remain with the club for another two years - a new deal would likely be a two-year one - and at worst he will depart this summer, though the latest reports suggest the Reds have no intention to sell their top goalscorer.

But unlike in previous summers when there have been debates regarding whether or not an alternative to the one-time Chelsea man is needed, discussions are now a little more one-sided.

Liverpool had a stint without Salah in the starting XI and their team didn’t collapse. The No11 has now suffered a hamstring injury. And he’s had a blip in form.

There’s now a valid reason for the Reds to bring in someone to alleviate some of the burden on the 31-year-old.

What does Slot look for?

Reports have linked the Merseyside club with a number of left-footed right-wing options over recent weeks, so perhaps a Salah successor is on Liverpool’s radar.

But which of those linked would be the best fit for the Reds?

The best way to determine this might be to look at what Arne Slot expects from his right-winger at Feyenoord. That will give you a good idea of what the Dutch tactician wants from his attacker.

Yankuba Minteh, on loan from Newcastle, has caught the eye playing on the right for the 2022/23 Eredivisie champions. The 19-year-old has 10 goals and five assists this season across the 1,432 minutes he’s appeared in.

He’s posting an expected goals (xG) per 90 average of 0.64 from 3.64 shots. He’s also averaging 0.27 expected assists (xA) and carving out 1.63 chances on a per 90 basis.

Minteh is a dribbler, averaging over 3.5 successful dribbles in the Dutch top-flight. The on-loan forward is very direct and spends a lot of time in the opposition penalty area, with 11.12 touches in the penalty area per 90.

If Slot is looking to replicate his Feyenoord tactics with Liverpool, he’ll need a wide forward with similar traits. They will need to be a goal threat, a creator and an aggressive ball carrier.

Three names to consider

Johan Bakayoko, Michael Olise and Mohammed Kudus have all been linked with moves to Merseyside and the trio all share some traits with Minteh.

Bakayoko is probably the closest and that could well be because he’s also playing in a dominant side in the Eredivisie. It suits his skillset and he’s able to almost bully opponents.

This season, he’s appeared in 2,434 minutes in the Dutch top-flight and he’s got an xG per 90 average of 0.32 from his 3.51 shots. The Belgium international has an xA average of 0.38.

He too is averaging over 3.2 successful dribbles on a per 90 basis. That makes it three boxes ticked from three.

If he did arrive, however, he would probably be a lot more open to an apprentice role next season. He can learn the ropes under Slot and adapt to the Premier League, safe in the knowledge he doesn’t have to deliver for one of the biggest clubs in the world while Salah is still around.

He could be used sparingly and his impact off of the bench could be a game-changer.

Though PSV want a club record fee for the 21-year-old, he would still be cheaper than other options out there.

There is a lot of upside to such a deal.

Better to stay in the Premier League?

Michael Olise is another on the Liverpool list if reports are to be believed.

The 22-year-old was linked with Manchester City and Chelsea last summer before penning a new deal with Crystal Palace.

He’s really caught the eye under Oliver Glasner over recent weeks and he’s now on 10 goals and five assists across 1,187 minutes in the Premier League. It is easily the most productive season of his career in the English top-flight.

He ticks a few boxes when looking at the numbers this season. He’s posted a non-penalty xG average of 0.31 from his 3.87 shots per 90. From a creative point of view, Olise has an xA average of 0.35.

He’s also completing close to three dribbles per 90 in the Premier League this term.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

There are, however, question marks over his injury record. He’s missed 18 matches due to hamstring injuries this season. Olise missed a chunk of last season too.

He would be a risk for the money being mentioned by the media and he’d also want to be a starter. The Palace No7 would certainly be coming in on money Liverpool would ordinarily pay to a starter.

Are there better value-for-money options out there? Probably.

An alternative option...

Finally, we have Mohammed Kudus.

The 23-year-old joined West Ham last summer from Ajax having pulled out of a deal to join Brighton at the last minute. Kudus has seven goals and six assists for the Hammers in his debut season and reports suggest he’s done enough to get a bigger move.

Liverpool reportedly had an interest in him during his time in Amsterdam but instead opted to move for Cody Gakpo.

His underlying numbers aren’t the best but that could be because he’s playing for a struggling West Ham side.

Mohammed Kudus' Premier League stats

He has an xG average of 0.18 from 2.44 shots per 90 and he’s got an xA average of 0.14.

The Ghana international is one of the best ball-carriers in the Premier League though and he’s completing over 4.5 per 90, so that box is ticked.

Can he scale his goal threat in a better team? Absolutely.

But is he worth the rumoured £60million fee when he’s going to have to adapt his game so much? Maybe, but it certainly makes him a risk.

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