Xabi Alonso left stunned by Liverpool 'target' who could replace Mohamed Salah


Liverpool legend Xabi Alonso is a World Cup, two-time European Championships, and two-time Champions League winner.

The Spaniard has also won four league titles and four domestic cups in England, Spain and Germany, and is one of the greatest players of his generation. Consequently, he has played both with and against some of the very best players the game has ever seen.

But his face said it all when managing Bayer Leverkusen to a 2-1 victory over SC Freiburg on Sunday, maintaining his side’s lead over Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga table. For everything he has witnessed in his football career as a player and manager, Florian Wirtz’s opening goal will be one of the best individual goals he has ever seen.

Receiving the ball on the right flank, just outside the penalty area, the 20-year-old cut inside into the box, twisting and turning past two defenders, beating one of them twice before leaving them on the floor. Heading toward the byline, he’d then cut back again before curling a shot into the bottom left-hand corner despite the sea of Freiburg bodies in front of him.

“That's half of their team... and he scores. Unreal,” Leverkusen posted on social media, alongside a still image of Wirtz just about to shoot with seven Freiburg players standing around him, and five directly in front of him in his path to goal. The goal isn’t even in shot.

"I don’t think I’ve seen a goal that special from him so far,” Alonso said in awe after the final whistle. “The dribble, the dribble, the dribble and at the end the shot.

"We spoke about Flo recently, the things he does, I can’t teach him these things, just like today. There's only a few players in the Bundesliga who can do this."

The breathtaking goal was Wirtz’s fifth of the season from 13 appearances in all competitions. He would later set up the would-be winner for Jonas Hofmann with his eighth assist of the campaign, bursting down the left wing and cutting inside as he held off a man while running half the length of the pitch, before laying it off after just about managing to retain possession.

When you consider the Germany international is still only 20 and suffered an ACL injury in March 2022, only returning the following January after a 10-month lay-off which saw him miss the Qatar World Cup, such form is even more impressive.

He had registered 18 goals and 22 assists from 69 games since the start of the 2020/21 season prior to his serious injury. Returning with four goals and eight assists from 25 outings in the second half of last season, he has wasted no time in getting back to his best.

Wirtz, unsurprisingly, continues to be linked with a whole host of elite clubs around Europe, including Liverpool. Fabrizio Romano credited the Reds with interest in the German back in March, declaring that Jurgen Klopp was a big fan of his compatriot. However, he also claimed that the Leverkusen youngster would be staying put until 2024. So could the 20-year-old end up being Anfield-bound in the future?

You can’t deny there is something very Mohamed Salah-esque about Wirtz’s goal and assist against Freiburg. The way he cuts inside, beats defender after defender and bends it into the bottom corner with his left foot is something Reds fans have witnessed their Egyptian King pull off countless times, as is a powerful solo-run covering half the pitch before laying off to a team-mate.

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