Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse for Liverpool, it now appears the Premier League champions will be without their top scorer Mohamed Salah for next weekend’s clash with Leicester City.
The Egypt forward has tested positive for Coronavirus while on international duty but is fortunately not showing any symptoms at this stage.
While that’s encouraging news, Mirror Football believe it’s likely Salah will miss the coming encounter with the Foxes, who will be chomping at the bit to try and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table by beating an injury-stricken Reds side.
Indeed, as well as Salah falling victim to Covid-19, Liverpool are without defensive trio Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk – with the latter pair potentially out for the season.
So, which player can Jurgen Klopp turn to in hope of filling Salah’s void against Leicester? GIVEMESPORT outline five suggested solutions below…
By far the most obvious replacement, Diogo Jota actually started in Salah’s usual right wing role last time out against Manchester City, as Klopp set up his side in a less familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Portuguese has been in exceptionally fine fettle since swapping Wolves for Liverpool during the summer, already scoring four goals in the Champions League and thrice in the English top flight.
As Salah is Liverpool’s top scorer this season, there’s a clear logic to entrusting the player enjoying the best form in front of goal right now to adequately fill his void.
He scored from the right against Sheffield United and Midtjylland, but it remains to be seen if the 23-year-old can have the same effect there against an elite side in Leicester City.
Divock Origi has knack of producing the goods just when Liverpool need him most, and an injury crisis ahead of their meeting with the team at the top of the table certainly falls into that category.
Liverpool will need extra firepower in Salah’s absence and as arguably the only proper out-and-out striker at the club, Origi’s as likely to provide it as anyone.
But the Belgian has been barely seen this season – he’s made just three appearances in all competitions with only two of those being starts.
The 25-year-old did bag a brace against Lincoln in the Carabao Cup, but Leicester are a different kettle of fish entirely.
It’s safe to say Takumi Minamino has underwhelmed since moving to Anfield in January, but with Salah out of the team maybe this is his time to shine.
While he’s predominantly lined up in central roles for Liverpool, he often featured out wide for Red Bull Salzburg, so perhaps this is his chance to return to something more familiar and finally make his mark on this Liverpool team.
The 25-year-old certainly has the necessary natural ability – he notched up 64 goals and 44 assists for the Austrian side – but it just hasn’t clicked for him yet.
A start against Leicester would be a massive vote of confidence from Klopp and that might just see the Japanese attacker turn things around.
Xherdan Shaqiri showed exactly what he offers this Liverpool team in his cameo outing against West Ham, coming off the bench to set up Jota’s late winner with a beautifully timed pass.
While the chances of the Austrian attacker replicating Salah’s supply of goals against Leicester are pretty slim, having never scored more than eight in a single Premier League season, he’s certainly got the natural creativity to make scoring a lot easier for those around him.
The attacking midfielder hasn’t seen a great deal of action this season with his only start coming against Lincoln City back in September. But Shaqiri is a well-established player in the Premier League and that reputation alone will at least give Leicester’s defence something to think about.
It’s pretty clear Curtis Jones will ultimately end up as a central midfielder but at this point in his career, any extra Premier League experience can’t be a bad thing.
The 19-year-old has played out wide before – albeit predominantly on the left – and recently produced a really impressive display against Atalanta, where he registered two key passes, two dribbles, one tackle, one interception and an assist, so he’d enter the Leicester clash with some momentum behind him.
That being said, this game does feel like a pivotal moment in Liverpool’s season, if only for the uncertainty a defeat would bring, so favouring Jones over more experienced personnel would be a significant gamble from Klopp.