Liverpool may already own its Mohamed Salah heir and Jamal Musiala transfer would prove it


It’s been a tale of two transfer rumors for Liverpool over the latest international break, and both originate from Bayern Munich. First came Leroy Sané, with Jamal Musiala hot on his heels.

The credibility of both links can be called into question. If nothing else, it’s always a cause for suspicion when stories just happen to emerge during the Premier League hiatus, filling the gaping Liverpool content vacuum.

But at the same time, it’s not hard to see why Liverpool might have at least looked at both players. And in one sense, they represent the two schools of thought about how Liverpool should go about replacing Mohamed Salah.

Of course, there is a vital third school, one which demands that Liverpool should do all it can to keep hold of Salah for as long as possible. His departure to Saudi Arabia is not a foregone conclusion, though it is easy to treat it as such, and there is no guarantee that this is his final season at Anfield.

But assuming Liverpool does bow to that Saudi interest in the summer, netting a colossal payday on what will then be a 32-year-old (albeit one showing no signs of slowing down), there are two transfer paths to take. Someone like Sané would signal an attempt to replace Salah’s role in Jürgen Klopp’s team — Musiala would attempt to replace his aura.

In other words, Sané makes sense as a rough profile match. Though there are a handful of others who might fit the bill a little more, he is a relatively rare breed: a left-footed right-winger capable of contributing a strong amount of goals and assists at a high level. Swapping him straight in for Salah would cause a drop-off, without question, but Liverpool could broadly continue playing the same way.

Musiala, on the other hand, would necessitate a reshuffle. He could theoretically take on the Salah role directly, but his career experience on the right is limited to just eight games. The bulk of his game time has come through the middle — and if Liverpool were to sanction a massive spend on one of the world’s foremost young talents, it seems likeliest that his best position would be accommodated.

But even as an attacking midfielder, Musiala could arguably offer a better approximation of Salah than Sané could muster from the right wing. Whereas his senior Bayern Munich colleague has often been accused of letting his head drop, the precocious young talent is a game-changer, and in that sense he would be taking up the Egyptian King’s mantle.

Moreover, if Musiala were to become the almost spiritual heir to Salah, it would pave the way for a more direct replacement to come from within Klopp’s existing squad. The German youngster would be arriving into an already-packed roster of number eights, and the obvious move would be to switch Dominik Szoboszlai out to the right.

Funnily enough, we made the case for such a move barely a day before the Musiala story broke — advocating Florian Wirtz as the game-changing addition through the middle. But his compatriot and fellow wonderkid would do the job just as nicely.

It goes without saying that Szoboszlai has been a revelation through the middle, and there is duly no clamor to shift him any time soon. But his time as a narrow winger at RB Leipzig would stand him in good stead as the Salah heir.

Taking such a path would also relieve any new signing of the pressure of directly replacing Salah. That would be a tough burden for anyone to shoulder — handing it to a supremely confident Szoboszlai, fresh off the back of a debut season where it took him just weeks to capture the hearts and minds of the Kop, seems like it has the best chance of success.

Even without a new signing, Liverpool already has a packed midfield department. Quite apart from accommodating Musiala, a move for Szoboszlai might allow Alexis Mac Allister a path out of the number six role, especially if a specialist defensive midfielder is on the transfer agenda too.

So while it almost seems heretical to suggest moving Szoboszlai right now, perhaps the Salah replacement strategy has already been set in motion. A transfer for someone like Musiala would only serve to confirm that theory.

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