Liverpool move for Basel star looking very much back on
For all the penetrative attacking flair Liverpool possess through the middle, the Merseyside giants have yet to resolve long-standing issues on their flanks.
Local boy Steve McManaman was arguably the Reds’ last truly top-class winger and since he left for Real Madrid at the end of the last century, the likes of Patrik Berger, Luis Garcia, Albert Riera and Stewart Downing have achieved little more than cult status at Anfield.
They’re hardly overburdened with wide men under Brendan Rodgers either and the Northern Irishman’s wholly predictable mistake (as flagged up by Craig Kemp on these pages) of shoe-horning Daniel Sturridge back into his starting XI against Aston Villa simply underlined that fact.
Gabby Agbonlahor would have endured an uncomfortable night’s sleep after his horrible first-minute miss, but Paul Lambert’s counter-attacking experts went 2-0 up thanks to breakaway goals from Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke within 36 minutes, in spite of their teammates’ profligacy.
The Reds struck back in the second half to share the spoils in a 2-2 draw, but beating the likes of Villa at home is essential if Rodgers is to lead his team into the Champions League next term at 10/11 odds.
Philippe Coutinho is a hugely promising number ten, but the Brazilian is a liability on the left in a four-man midfield and 19-year-old Raheem Sterling – who only played nine games after Christmas last term due to fatigue – should not be relied upon so heavily on the other side.
It seems Rodgers knows this much is true at least and rumours abound that Liverpool have stepped up their efforts to land Basel’s Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah.
The left-footed, right-sided player has shown his mettle against Chelsea (three times) and Spurs in Europe over the last 18 months, hitting the back of the net against both London clubs in 2012/13 and playing starring roles in his team’s shock Champions League home and away wins against the Blues this season.
Liverpool were on the verge of securing the 21-year-old’s services earlier this month, but Basel were thought to be demanding a significantly higher fee than what was on offer.
However, the Swiss Super League champions may have to lower their sights as it has been reported that Salah wants a move to Merseyside before February and Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre is thought to be working overtime on a £10m attempt to prise Salah away from St Jakob Park.