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The Mo Salah conundrum: How does Jurgen Klopp account for the missing piece in the jigsaw?

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By Siddharth Juyal

Replacing Liverpool legend Mohamed Salah is an impossible task, but the rejuvenated Luis Diaz is the key in his absence

Liverpool legend Mohamed Salah has left the club to fulfil his international duties during the AFCON competition as Luis Diaz returns to form. The departure of the Red’s top goal scorer as well as the top assist-maker leaves a big void.

Many football experts and Kopites have provided their opinions about who should replace the Egyptian king during this crucial stage. Some want a new signing while others are hopeful about one of the current attackers taking up the mantle.

The Reds’ forward line has faced criticism for being too wasteful in many games, costing them points.  The Premier League title race is so tight that there is no room for complacency. Few points are separating the top four clubs yet Liverpool’s most haunting issue is complacency itself.

Goal and assists contribution from Liverpool legend Mohamed Salah so far this season. (Credit: Squawka)
Goal and assists contribution from Liverpool legend Mohamed Salah so far this season. (Credit: Squawka)

Liverpool have been formidable in defence yet most goals they have conceded came from the lapse in concentration. Whereas, the poor composure in attack has plagued them throughout the season with most criticism levied upon Darwin Nunez.

Liverpool’s array of attacking talent: A glimpse beyond Salah

However, Nunez has continuously contributed with goals and assists and his work-rate upfront is second to none. He is the epitome of chaos as he either creates chances or his run helps create space for his teammates. Nunez will take the spotlight during Salah’s departure as demand for goals will increase now more than ever.

Meanwhile, Diogo Jota has just returned from an injury layoff and he is the best finisher in the attacking department. Jota’s only issues are his injury concerns or else the Portuguese is the most reliable player in front of goal.

Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre.
Liverpool forwards Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez need to be productive in the absence of Mohamed Salah. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Cody Gakpo is another clinical finisher and all-around performer that Liverpool possesses right now. The Dutchman has stayed under the radar compared to other attackers yet Kopites have always noted and appreciated his output.

Despite the varieties of attackers that Liverpool possesses, the truth is simple: Mo Salah is simply irreplaceable right now. Currently, according to Squawka, he has the most goals and assists, most shots on target, most big chances scored and most big chances created.

The resurgance of Luis Diaz: A potential solution

Amidst everything said, there remains one dependable figure Liverpool can count on: Luis Diaz. The injury kept Diaz out for most of the last season and when he returned, he just didn’t look right. At the beginning of the season, the 26-year-old scored goals effectively, although one of his legitimate goals against Tottenham Hotspur got nullified.

Diaz went through another serious situation with his parent’s kidnapping in his home country. Ever since his parents’ safe return, Diaz has appeared as a shadow of his former self, experiencing difficulties in maintaining possession and establishing link-ups. When the rest of the attackers played fluid football, actively playing for each other, Diaz looked like a separate entity.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Luis Diaz of Liverpool in actio during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United at Anfield on January 01, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Liverpool star Luis Diaz dazzled the crowd against Newcastle United and proved that he has not lost his best due to the serious knee injuy he suffered last season. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

However, when many fans and pundits started to lose faith in the Colombian, he showed his dazzling old self. The 26-year-old delivered an inspirational performance against Newcastle United, showing that last season blight would not continue.

If Diaz continues to thrive like he did against Newcastle, Liverpool can find their way around Salah’s absence. The Colombian needs to be consistent and play with the same mindset that drove him against the Magpies.

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Liverpool’s attack has a good opportunity to show that there is life without Salah. They have the quality and diversity that they can hold the fort until the Egyptian king makes his triumphant return.