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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be without two key attackers for the coming weeks. Both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are out of club action due to the Africa Cup of Nations.
They have been in stunning form for the Reds this season. Salah boasts 23 goals and nine assists in all competitions. The Egyptian is the Premier League’s leading scorer with 16. Mane meanwhile has ten goals and one assist in all competitions.
It begs the question, then, will Klopp look inward or outward when trying to replace his star pair? Moreover, will the deputies play regularly like Salah and Mane, or will the manager change things up week by week?
Injuries frustrating Jurgen Klopp
Fortunately for the Reds, Roberto Firmino has returned to action just in time. He will most certainly fill one of the empty spots in the starting XI. Fellow forward Diogo Jota will more than likely be pushed out wide in order to allow the Brazilian to start in a central role in Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3.
A change in formation, however, shouldn’t be ruled out. That is because Liverpool are currently suffering from a depleted squad due to injuries and COVID-19.
Youngster Harvey Elliott would have been the perfect Salah replacement at right-wing. But the 18-year-old is currently out with an ankle injury. Divock Origi is another candidate to start. But he also finds himself sidelined, missing the last few matches with a knee injury.
Who will fill the other gap going forward?
With Firmino and Jota almost certain to occupy two of the three spaces up front, there will be a handful of players eyeing some regular game time over the next couple of weeks.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is perhaps licking his lips at the thought of more minutes. He has played in central midfield in more recent times, but could be tried as a winger once again under Klopp.
Curtis Jones could also be pushed further forward. But Liverpool are already struggling in midfield. Thiago is out with a hip injury, while Naby Keita is also on international duty.
Takumi Minamino is another who is desperate for a chance in the league. He has shown several bright moments for the Reds. But the majority of those moments have come in the League Cup against lower-league opposition.
Another option Klopp could consider is Kaide Gordon. The 17-year-old scored in Sunday’s FA Cup win against Shrewsbury. He was then awarded a standing ovation from the Anfield crowd for his efforts.
Class from Kaide today 👏
He's now our second-youngest ever scorer 🙌⚽️ pic.twitter.com/NjLiwIUkWn
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 9, 2022
Gordon would be an outside choice from the manager. He has, however, appeared on the bench in two league matches this season, suggesting he isn’t far away from a role in the Premier League.
Will Jurgen Klopp bring in a new face?
While it shouldn’t be ruled out, it would be unusual for Klopp to go searching for new attackers in the January transfer window.
Firstly, the manager has been largely inactive in recent windows. And secondly, it would be extremely difficult to land a top player this month, with the new recruit fully aware that he is only a temporary replacement for the returning Salah or Mane.
There have been recent links to Porto star Luis Diaz. The Daily Mail meanwhile claim that the Reds are chasing Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma. The former Bournemouth man has nine goals and three assists in all competitions this season.