Managing Liverpool as Mohamed Salah learns fate, Jude Bellingham eyed and Naby Keita axed

As usual, Liverpool have been swift and decisive in the transfer market, with several well thought-out decisions being made and risks being weighed up.

The bad news for them is that the Mirror Football team have just been given the keys to Anfield.

The Reds are the latest club to come under our summer microscope, following on from Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, all of whom have been put right – or wrong – by our team.

And while on the face of it there is less to do at Liverpool due to the decisions that have already been made, our team found out that one major issue is dominating on Merseyside.

Alex Richards

For Liverpool it’s time to get rid.

It’s begun with Taki Minamino, Divock Origi and Sadio Mane – the latter they didn’t want to go, obviously – but there are other areas where sales can be made. Nat Phillips, Sepp van de Berg and Neco Williams are all notable players who they could make decent profits on this summer. Perhaps even Joe Gomez, if he’s keen to go and play regularly.

There’s also something of a log-jam in midfield now. Jurgen Klopp needs to find more minutes for Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott to enable that duo to continue growing, while Fabio Carvalho – although more likely in a wide attacking role – is a similar case.






Liverpool could rely more on Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott


Liverpool could rely more on Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott
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REUTERS)

But to do that, Klopp and the club’s transfer chiefs could do with freeing up some space. That means actively pushing out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain , who is little more than squad filler these days, while Naby Keita’s contract has only one year left; now might be the time to cash in on a player that Klopp likes and give his minutes to those younger players… particularly if it’s all aboard with the Jude Bellingham train next summer.

With all that being said, Mohamed Salah remains the elephant in the room. He wants to be paid for what he’s done while backing himself to replicate it in future. Don’t pay and the potential is there to be made to look foolish.

But the World Cup break in November – particularly with Egypt missing out on the finals in Qatar – allows us to wait and see how the first half of the season goes. There’s no need to rush into it now having gone this long. Let it run, see how the opening three months go, and take it up from there.

Tom Victor

The Mohamed Salah situation remains the toughest question facing Liverpool this summer, and the consensus seems to be either you meet his demands now or lose him for nothing next summer. However, Kylian Mbappe’s situation at Paris Saint-Germain suggests there might be a third way.

Yes, a £400,000 per week deal would potentially let the cat out of the bag when it comes to the Reds’ wage structure, but that still feels like an absolute ceiling, with little chance of player or club going higher if they wait. So why not wait? If he starts this season as quickly as he did the 2021-22 campaign, they can potentially bite the bullet closer to the contract expiry date – not now, when the loss of Sadio Mane could let emotions lead over common sense.

Liverpool have been good at signing replacements before losing other players, and we can even count the arrival of Luis Diaz before Mane’s departure as an example.

This could be a concern with Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of contract soon, but the strength of the likes of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott suggest they should be fine treating the potentially outgoing pair like Gini Wijnaldum and getting a solid final season before recruiting – most likely Jude Bellingham – next summer.

Aside from Takumi Minamino, who’s seemingly on the verge of moving on, Liverpool might want to cash in on Nat Phillips . There aren’t many squad members who seem both dispensable and capable of commanding a reasonable fee, but the centre-back’s future seems to lie elsewhere.

In terms of additions, it seems unlikely we’ll see any more, but if we do it’ll probably involve finding value for a young talent as has been the case with Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay. Julian Ward may well have a name or two in mind, but it’s hard to anticipate any more big statement signings between now and August.

Tom Blow

Liverpool shouldn’t give Mohamed Salah a £400,000-a-week contract, even if that means losing him. The Reds have achieved success in recent years thanks to their policy of buying forwards at the right age – around 24 or 25 – and turning them into superstars.






It is looking unlikely that Salah will get a new deal


It is looking unlikely that Salah will get a new deal
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CameraSport via Getty Images)

Remember, Salah was not one of the world’s best players when he was signed five years ago. He was 25 and scored just 15 league goals during his final season at Roma. Few were predicting him to bump that figure up to 32 during his maiden term at Liverpool.

Sadio Mane was 24 when he signed for the Reds, Diogo Jota was 23. Luis Diaz is just 25. Even Darwin Nunez, despite his huge price tag, isn’t the finished article at 23. Salah’s a superb player but keeping him isn’t worth destroying the club’s wage structure.

In terms of midfield, Liverpool should try to sign Jude Bellingham , Kalvin Phillips or an alternative this window. Naby Keita hasn’t proven himself since his arrival four years ago and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t good enough to be a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s team.

But the Reds should wait for the right player to become available before making their move. There’s no need to panic buy, especially with the likes of Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho still involved. Liverpool can afford to wait until next summer.

Should Liverpool hand Mohamed Salah a new contract? Give us your thoughts in the comments section

David Hughes

Each of Liverpool’s renowned front three all came into last season with less than two years remaining on their Anfield contracts, and it became clear very early on that tying down Mohamed Salah was going to be the Reds’ priority.

However, both parties are locked in a standoff that shows no signs of a resolution. It’s expected that a new offer of around £400,000 a week would settle the matter, though the same would dwarf the contracts of other key Liverpool stars.

For me, that’s not an option. Salah is of course a phenomenal talent and one of the best attackers in the world. Yet the reality is he is now 30 and should in theory start to decline in the coming years.

Not just that but, in my opinion, he’s not Liverpool’s most important player.






Alisson and Virgil van Dijk are just as important as Salah


Alisson and Virgil van Dijk are just as important as Salah
(
PA)

When it comes to who has the biggest impact on the Reds’ ability to win football matches, I consider both Alisson and Virgil van Dijk more important. Rather than risking upsetting those and others, I’d be inclined to get one more year from the Egyptian before letting him depart as a 31-year-old for free next season.

Beyond the Salah saga, Liverpool also have some key decisions to make in midfield, with players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita heading into the final 12 months of their deals. I’d have no issues allowing the former to depart, though I’d perhaps keep him until next summer when it’s then expected Liverpool will invest heavily in their midfield.

In terms of Keita however, I think he warrants a new deal. He seems to have overcome recurring injury issues and looked back to his best at times last season. Plus at 27, still has enough left in him.

Although new arrivals and contract conundrums have dominated Liverpool’s summer so far, there’s been some subtle good business in terms of outgoings. Takumi Minamino is following the likes of Divock Origi and Sadio Mane out the door in a tidy deal worth around £15.5m, and I’d be looking to push through a few more too.

One of those would be Neco Williams . The Welshman hasn’t really got the ability to Trent push Alexander-Arnold, and his stock is unlikely to be any higher than now after a strong spell with Fulham on loan last season.

Daniel Orme

Having already secured the services of Darwin Nunez, Calvin Ramsay and Fabio Carvalho, Liverpool seem to have finished the vast majority of their summer business. There are questions remaining over the future of Mohamed Salah though – the Egyptian seeing his contract expire next summer.

With the former AS Roma man having been a pivotal figure at the club since his switch from Italy, it seems a no-brainer to me to stump up his demands and tie him down to a new deal – particularly after the departure of Sadio Mane.

There are also a number of other players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita out of contract in 12 months’ time. It might be wise to pursue sales for the pair this summer while they can still recoup considerable fees.






Nicolo Barella would be an exciting Reds addition


Nicolo Barella would be an exciting Reds addition
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Getty Images)

Jude Bellingham has been touted as a potential arrival, whilst Nicolo Barella would also be an excellent addition to the heart of the Reds’ midfield. Leicester ’s Youri Tielemans could also be a cheaper option for some added depth despite links with Arsenal.

Liverpool could potentially generate some more funds by selling their fringe players. Nat Phillips , Sepp van den Berg , Ben Davies and Neco Williams are also being courted by other clubs and would be candidates to leave this summer.

Jake Polden

While Mohamed Salah might deserve a new contract, it makes little sense to divert from the plan that has seen Liverpool go from strength to strength. For that reason, I wouldn’t break the wage structure in place to keep an ageing striker for another few years.

At the end of next season, Salah will be 31 and it makes sense for Liverpool to replace the Egyptian rather than tie him down beyond his prime years and risk upsetting the – perhaps soon-to-be more important – younger players at the club.

Liverpool won’t get a transfer fee for him, but I believe they’d save more money in the long term by saying goodbye in 2023.

The Reds have already broken their club-record transfer fee this summer so signing another big-money player is off the cards.

For this reason, I’d only look to offload one of either Naby Keita or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this summer before letting the other go for free at the end of the season.

Next summer I would then target Jude Bellingham , splashing the necessary cash to get the ‘right man’ – in the same way Jurgen Klopp did previously after identifying Virgil van Dijk and Alisson.

One possible predicament for Liverpool is the club having to shell out on a new big-money midfielder and a striker in the same window if all Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah walk, with Roberto Firmino out of contract too.






Fabio Carvalho is arriving at Liverpool this summer


Fabio Carvalho is arriving at Liverpool this summer
(
PA)

But Klopp has been steadily replacing his attack in recent years and the five-piece of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho should be enough to lead the line for at least one season.

By that point it will be 2024 and Liverpool target Jarrod Bowen will not only be approaching the prime of his career but he’ll have a year left on his West Ham contract, making him a more likely signing.

Colin Millar

Liverpool have said their farewells to Sadio Mane and perhaps the true impact of the Senegalese forward’s incredible six-year stint at Anfield will only be truly appreciated after he has gone. That the club allowed him to enter the final year of his contract saw them lose the star for well below his market value to Bayern Munich.

Sure, the Reds are not exactly short of attacking options but they now find themselves in a similar bind with Mohamed Salah – also into the last year of his contract. If the club agree to his £400,000 per week terms, they will break their wage structure and open the door to other stars and agents gaining the upper hand in the negotiation process.

Liverpool’s model means they should take the risk on the Egyptian; give him a year to change his mind on renewing on the offered terms and if not, allow him to leave. That is not an ideal outcome, but it is the lesser of two hits and allows the club – as with Mane – to plan for his eventual exit.






Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain are both out of contract in 2023


Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain are both out of contract in 2023
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Getty Images)

Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino will not prove a loss in first-team selection terms but Darwin Nunez is likely to need a period to embed – meaning Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino all must step up this term.

The midfield issue is also an outstanding one – missing out on Aurelien Tchouameni, who has joined Real Madrid, is a blow while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita are also into the final year of their deals. That is another £90million worth of talent who may leave on a free next term.

There are no doubts that Jurgen Klopp’s strongest XI remains as strong as any other side on the planet but more reinforcements are needed; not only for this season – but with a view to Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita leaving next summer.

Identifying players who can be competitive for a starting place while adding squad depth. Having already splashed the cash to acquire Nunez, more spending is needed this summer to ensure Liverpool can once again challenge on all fronts.

Should Liverpool hand Mohamed Salah a new contract? Give us your thoughts in the comments section

Mark Jones

If there’s one thing Liverpool have shown in the transfer market in recent years it is that they can act like grown-ups. If targets can’t be acquired then they wait, if fees can’t be agreed then they walk away, and if contract demands are unacceptable then they won’t accept them.

It is what has propelled a club once wracked with inertia to the highs they’ve experienced, with the consistency of action ensuring that everyone remains on the same page.

With modern football as it is that was always going to be challenged at some point though. And while we saw the green shoots of this as Emre Can and more recently Gini Wijnaldum ran down their deals, there was always going to come a point when Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah would stretch it to a position where a decision had to be made.

Make no mistake, in a world where there are footballers being paid circa £400,000 a week, Mane and Salah deserve to be in that group, but Liverpool have set their stall out here. The collective is the most important thing, and that’s why Mane has been allowed to leave and Salah hasn’t been offered the enormous wages he’s after. The wage structure is the most important thing, it will not be broken.

For now.

Because there is a world where Salah starts next season on fire, and he goes into the World Cup break – a World Cup he won’t be at – as the standout best forward on the planet. That’s when all parties can get around a table again, and more grown-up conversations can be had. In all of the negotiations you have got the feeling that he wants to stay, so maybe a deal can be agreed in the winter – even though he’ll have plenty of clubs plenty knocking on his door.

I suspect he probably will leave eventually, but nothing has to be decided now.

As for everything else, I’m giving Naby Keita a new deal, keeping Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain around for another year and allowing him and James Milner to leave next summer, when it will be Jude Bellingham time.

The expected names on the fringes can go, and I’d have a conversation with Roberto Firmino over his expectations for a new deal, as it’d be nice to keep him around for another couple of years.

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