After a summer of reconstruction, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted that ‘Liverpool 2.0‘ is being built, with the malfunctioning engine room written and replaced with a wealth of exciting new stars.
And who can argue that the arrivals have not been a success thus far? Dominik Szoboszlai is elegant and energetic; Alexis Mac Allister is dynamic and crisp in an unorthodox No. 6 role; putting an ill-fortuned spell with Bayern Munich behind him, the 21-year-old Ryan Gravenberch looks a bona fide prodigy and is touted for the very top in the years to come.
Gakpo distracted from just how good 8/10 Liverpool star was vs LASK
Despite losing possession 22 times, Jurgen Klopp’s exciting star proved his worth once again.
Wataru Endo, too, has been a solid acquisition, signing from Stuttgart for £16m after Liverpool failed to capture both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, who both penned long-term deals with Chelsea.
With attacking additions welcomed in the windows preceding the summer, it’s understandable that bolstering the backline will take priority over any other business. However, that could change if Mohamed Salah leaves Merseyside next year.
Mohamed Salah’s future
In the summer, the Saudi Pro League’s ambitious endeavour to rise as a footballing superpower saw a torrent of transfer activity pour into the nation, with many stars across Europe penning lucrative deals with opulent Saudi Arabian outfits.
Salah was – and still is – among the very top targets to bring to the league, and Liverpool’s early-season progress threatened to destabilise the bid to return to prominence, with Al-Ittihad believed to have lodged a staggering £150m offer for the Egyptian forward in the late days of August.
The 31-year-old has undoubtedly been one of the best forwards in the Premier League since signing for Liverpool from Roma in 2017, for £34m, and has now posted 149 goals and 69 assists from 244 matches in the division.
For Liverpool, the money offered was nice, sure, but selling Salah was simply inconceivable at the maiden phase of a crucial campaign that demanded a resurgence.
He’s been emphatic this year, proving that selling him was a foolish option, having scored 13 goals and supplied five assists across all competitions already.
But with his contract set for expiry in June 2025, the Liverpool bosses are faced with quite a quandary; should a new deal fail to materialise over the next six months or so, then it’s very much feasible that Salah will be sold in the summer.
Liverpool transfer targets – Donyell Malen
According to a report from respected German outlet BILD earlier this week, Liverpool are interested in signing Borussia Dortmund winger Donyell Malen in the event of Salah’s departure next summer.
The Dutchman has ebbed and flowed from form in Germany but came alive at the end of the 2022/23 campaign, and is one of Edin Terzic’s most dynamic and trustworthy assets.
Priced at €35m (£30m) by Football Transfers’ valuation model, Malen is proving to be a prolific figure and still has much scope for improvement, and Klopp could bring his game to the next level by luring him to Anfield.
Donyell Malen’s style of play
Noted for his “sizzling” form by journalist Antonio Mango, Malen is a natural dribbling whiz and has a knack for finding the back of the net with his weaving patterns into space, unleashing fusillades of fire on opposition defences.
Considered a player of “extraordinary ability” by former Dortmund boss Marco Rose, Malen completed a move to Dortmund from his native PSV Eindhoven in 2021, arriving as the replacement for Jadon Sancho, who joined Manchester United.
After the transfer, the Yellow Wall’s director Michael Zorc stated, “Donyell is a player with great offensive potential, who exudes goal danger, brings his creativity to the table and has a high speed.”
Donyell Malen: Key Characteristics
*Sourced via WhoScored
The 24-year-old has since chalked up 24 goals and 16 assists from 91 displays, really coming into his own at the end of last season, plundering nine goals and five assists from the final 13 games of the term.
This time around, he has scored four times from nine starts in the Bundesliga, but his expansive style and thorny threat highlight the quality that overpowers mere success from goals and assists.
As per FBref, the versatile forward ranks among the top 1% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals scored, the top 2% for shots taken, the top 14% for successful take-ons and the top 17% for touches in the attacking penalty area per 90.
He is even listed as a comparable player to Salah, and while he does not boast the ridiculous number of goals and assists that the Egyptian offers with such odd-defying regularity, he could slot right into the system at Anfield.
How Donyell Malen compares to Mohamed Salah
There are certainly similarities that can be pulled from Malen’s style in comparison to Salah’s, with both forwards adept at cutting inside and striking on goal with clinical efforts.
Salah, much like Malen, ranks among the top 1% of positional peers for goals per 90, though he also ranks among the top 1% for touches in the attacking penalty area and the top 7% for assists per 90.
Top Five PL Goalscorers (Active Players)
*Sourced via premierleague.com
Lauded for his “frightening” offensive prowess by teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold, Salah is, without a doubt, one of the finest players in Liverpool’s history, and to expect a player such as Malen to waltz in and emulate his cutting edge to a tee would be foolish.
However, if Salah does leave next year, then Malen would be able to slot right in and serve as a similar cog in the system; Liverpool’s style tilts toward Salah and allows him to flourish, meaning that should Malen arrive then he too could find opportunities aplenty come his way.
Klopp will fiercely fight to keep a hold of his star man’s services, but should he leave, efforts must be made to land Malen, nurturing him as the new phenom on the right.