Did we get a little glimpse into the future when Taki Minamino came off the bench to score Liverpool’s equalizer against Arsenal? Maybe, maybe not. But, at some point, Liverpool will have to replace the main star of their famed front three, Mo Salah – and being a club that now prides itself on its smart recruitment there is every chance King Kloppo and his team already know who they consider to be the next Salah.
Naturally, this got us thinking – if Liverpool already has an idea it shouldn’t be too difficult for us to come up with the top-three players they should be tracking as they start to consider a world without Mo.
We used Total Football Analysis Pro’s xGOLD tool to crunch some numbers and see who should be on Liverpool’s list – after all, replacing someone like Salah is not going to be easy so they may as well start looking now.
First of all, let’s take a look at Salah’s profile.
The way to read these charts, and the radars you will see later, is that the higher the number, the higher the player places compared to everyone else in his league – so, if he is around 85, it means he is in the 85th percentile in the league (and that folks, that is very good indeed).
So this is what Liverpool need to replace and xGOLD crunched the numbers to find players who are the closest metrical match to the Egyptian in world football.
This is who it came up with.
#3 Diego Rossi – LAFC
xGOLD’s 3rd pick is currently tearing it up in MLS. Let’s see how he compares directly to Salah in some radars.
To be fair, the kid matches up very well indeed with his attacking game. Where Mo is in the 80+ percentile for his xG to shot ratio, Rossi is no slouch in this area. Rossi also attempts more dribbles per 90, which is surprising.
Here, Rossi has his own strengths and is where he differs most from Salah. Whereas makes more through passes and gets more passes into the penalty area over the course of a game, Rossi plays more overall passes and has a higher % of accuracy both overall and in the final third.
According to our numbers, Salah is in the 95th percentile for winning defensive duels in the EPL. But Rossi is clearly better defensively in the air and presses extremely well.
Watch Rossi in action here:
#2 Anders Dreyer – Midtjylland
A clever trick bigger clubs should employ is to go out and buy good players from clubs that have a good reputation of recruiting well. Liverpool have already done this by snapping up Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane from Southampton as well as the aforementioned Minamino from Salzburg. Why not repeat the process and go for Anders Dreyer from the Danish equivalent of Brentford?
Dreyer had an unsuccessful spell at Brighton, but his performances in Denmark might suggest there is more there than the Seagulls saw. And don’t forget – even Mo himself ‘failed’ in England the first time.
Other than his shots on target accuracy, Dreyer shows a lot of similarities to Salah with his outputs.
And if anything here, Dreyer outperforms Salah on the passing side of things.
This would be the one question mark – Dreyer’s defensive outputs do not appear to be that impressive which could be down to the tactics of his current club, a lack of mentality when it comes to that side of his game or, more simply, he just isn’t very good at it.
Watch Dreyer in action here:
#1 Dejan Kulusevski
Kulusevski set Serie A alight last season, so much so Juventus could not resist signing a player that may not even fit into how Andrea Pirlo wants to play. It remains to be seen whether Juve will loan Kulu out again this season and given that we are talking about players Liverpool should be tracking rather than looking to sign tomorrow, it is understandable that he is number one according to xGOLD.
Other than his crossing %, Kulusevski’s radar is a good match for Salah’s – particularly given his young age and the team he was playing for – Parma.
Again here, it is like looking at a Salah clone – except Kulu has a higher pass completion rate in the final third.
Defensively, the young Swede has much to learn – he gets involved defensively with minimal success and gives away a lot of fouls. But hey, the desire is there.
Watch Kulusevski in action here:
Three interesting options there for Liverpool to monitor moving forwards – but for us there is one player that has to be the priority – Kulusevski.
He has already done it in Serie A, just like Mo Salah. He’s at a big club where he might not get a real chance, just like Salah at Chelsea.
For us, the first whiff of Kulu not being happy in Turin and Liverpool should be negotiating a bargain fee to get him over to Merseyside. Unless the kid starts at Juve and dominates, he won’t cost Liverpool the €40m fee the Old Lady paid Parma in January.
Now, we’re off to ask xGOLD what other Kulusevksi’s might be out there…