Mohamed Salah is playing lights out at the moment. Would you agree that he’s currently the best player in Europe? Should he win the Ballon D’Or? 

“I haven’t seen anyone play better than Salah in Europe. Granted I don’t watch as much German, Spanish and Italian football, but I still keep an eye on it. But, there’s nobody playing with that “wow” factor that Salah’s got at the moment. Some of the goals, some of the creativity, some of the confidence and the skill level. He’s hit new heights with some of the quality goals we’ve seen.”

“He deserves great credit for that because what people forget is how many games he’s played over the last few years. His durability is equal to his talent. He plays nearly every game, takes whacks but he’s out there all the time. He never looks like he’s tired or lost sharpness. Even when he’s missing a few chances, he’s in there isn’t he?”

“I really hope they get his contract sorted and tie him down because he’s obviously become Liverpool’s main man. Couple of years ago, although he was scoring more goals, there was an argument that Mane was contributing in equal amounts. I think Salah has become the player now that when Liverpool need something, the fans and players are thinking that can Mo produce something? He’s been phenomenal and has a great chance of winning the Ballon d’Or.”

“We’re talking about elite footballers aren’t we and there’s always going to be few people with differing opinions. I think I’m correct in saying that the Ballon d’Or is a bit unusual in that it’s given for a year rather than a season, so there is a bit of crossover from last season. The second part of last season wasn’t ideal for Liverpool.”

“There’s no guarantees that he’s (Salah) going to get it but he’s certainly in the running and rightly so. But Lewandowski has been absolutely phenomenal also and you couldn’t really argue if he would get it. It would be nice for Salah though.”

“I haven’t met him (Salah) but he seems quite a humble guy. I’m sure if he won it he’ll keep it very close to his chest. But the bigger picture is for him to continue his form and get Liverpool back to winning something again. Last year was a disappointment wasn’t it? The determination in the squad and himself by the looks of it is greater than ever to bring silverware back to Anfield.”

Klopp was out praising West Ham United winger Jarrod Bowen, and Bowen has been rumored to go to Liverpool. Is that a transfer you would like to see? 

“I did hear those rumours and I was a little bit surprised. I say surprised not because I don’t like Bowen, I think he has adapted to the Premier League well, I think he’s shown a real appetite to improve his game and get into that West Ham side, playing off the right hand side. He scores goals, has nice finishing, good feet, does his defensive duties and you can see that he plays for the team, he’s not got a big ego or hide away from the work.”

“If you’re looking at winning Champions Leagues and Premier Leagues each year, I’m not sure yet, maybe he could get to that level, we’ll have to wait and see. I have to say that the recruitment at Liverpool has been really good. I did have a question mark over the signing of Jota which only shows what I know.”

“I think Liverpool are going to be buying forward players thinking more long-term, thinking of Salah’s age, Mane’s age. I’d be looking at players who are on par near that level and can go straight in and be good as. If you’re talking about Salah leaving, Salah doesn’t sign a new contract and someone came in with huge money, do I think Liverpool supporters would be content with Bowen coming in and filling in his shoes, I’d say no.”

“That’s not saying I don’t like him (Bowen), I do like him. I’m just talking about filling the boots or competing with the likes of Salah and getting into the team and I just don’t think he’s at that level.”

Any areas on the Liverpool squad you consider to be in need of improvement?

“I quite like the balance of the squad. The midfield, they’ve got enough quality when they’re fit so you have to be realistic with the fitness levels. Just because a few of them are injured doesn’t mean you go and buy more and all of a sudden you have nine midfielders. I think the midfield’s good enough.”

“I suppose if you’re being ideal, I would probably go for another forward player of real high quality to add to the front four. Firmino’s injured so we’re down to three and you’ve got the African Nations (AFCON) coming up. And probably another right-back. I know Milner’s filled in there and I was surprised that he was there instead of Gomez because I’ve seen him play right back many times and he’s got that defensive know-how there and the athleticism. 

“Another right back to compete with Trent, the problem there is that you’re only getting a right back to be an understudy to Trent. You’re going to do well to find one to take his place. Unless you find a Brazilian somewhere who’s going turn into the next Josimar.”

“Ideally, another forward player. Again the same problem lies there. When you’re looking at bringing players in and you’re asking someone to sign with Liverpool and having a chat with them and they say, well who am I up against and you say Salah, Mane, Firmino and Jota. Maybe that’s why someone like Bowen has been mentioned.” 

“But it’s unrealistic to talk about someone like Jarrod Bowen anyway for me because West Ham are doing so well and have a chance of going to the Champions League. Why would he want to swap that to go to Liverpool? Of course I would always like to play at Liverpool instead of West Ham but if he’s not going play at Liverpool and he’s got a chance of playing Champions League at West Ham, why would he do that other than finance?”

What should Liverpool look to do about Joe Gomez? He can’t seem to stay healthy and build up any continuous form. 

“It’s always a difficult question when you’re asked about players when you don’t see them outside of the injuries and how they’re training and also the mindset. In my career there were some players who were just damn unlucky and had wonderful ability like Gomez and the club try to get you back to fitness and back you and support you because they know how good you can be.”

“There’s some players who, there was a mixture of luck and bad injuries but also having mental weakness in terms of thinking he’s injured or its worse than it is. I’m not saying that about Gomez but I’m giving you the things I don’t know because I’m not involved on the training ground.”

“My gut feeling is that with the talent that he has and the age he is then it’s worth the risk of sticking with him and trying to support him to get physically right again.” 

“He’s an England international and I remember speaking to Steve Holland about him a couple of years ago and he thought really highly of him and Steve’s a great judge of a player. That was in the early days and I hadn’t seen enough of him and was thinking is he going to be good enough. Then of course he had that great run in the side alongside van Dijk and people talked about the great partnership.” 

“I think he’s shown enough that he’s capable to play at the top level and be a really good defender for Liverpool. Based on that alone, and his age of course, if he was in his late 20s and earning huge money, then there would be a different conversation, but right now I think it seems obvious that Liverpool will support him and try to get him back to his physical best so that he can compete with Matip and Konate to get in the team alongside van Dijk.”

“It’s quite ironic when you talk about the lack of centre-halves last year and now you’ve got Matip playing at his best, Konate looking strong and dominant and Virgil has gotten back into it like a duck to water.”

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s contract is set to expire in a year and a half. Should the club look to offload him soon in order to get some value off of him? Where do you think he could go? 

“I wouldn’t be looking to offload in January, unless you’ve got someone coming in. Liverpool need all the numbers they can get. Obviously they’ve lost Harvey Elliott, Wijnaldum left and Milner has struggled to stay fit at times, Thiago’s struggled to stay fit. I wouldn’t be looking at getting rid of anyone unless you had someone coming in. You need the numbers.”

“I’ve been a fan of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s footballing ability for many, many years, when I first saw him playing right wing and then midfield. I remember talking to Roy Hodgson about him when he got injured before the World Cup in Brazil, and really raving about him and he would have started. This is a super talented guy who’s had a lot of injury problems and we’ve only seen glimpses in a Liverpool shirt of his brilliance. But if he is fit, and he’s over his problems and raring to go, this season especially I would be looking to keeping him.”

Getting somebody of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s quality is going to cost a lot of money and then of course in the summer you have a different debate and a different argument because you assess the squad, the finances, what the player wants as well. There’s not many players who are continually happy to sit at one club and not play. I know that’s been quite the case with Oxlade-Chamberlain because he’s been on the bench more because he’s coming back from injuries all the time. In terms of talent, he’s good enough and he’s shown glimpses. I think hopefully he stays fit and we see a big second half of the season from him. I’ll wait until the summer to make any decision.

Read More