Danny Murphy column: Keeping Mohamed Salah not Liverpool’s priority

Liverpool got the response it wanted from Mohamed Salah in its victory over Tottenham. My only disappointment is that his performance came in two weeks late.

I’m not suggesting that Salah hasn’t been at his best because of an attitude problem, because I think it’s a physical problem that has hampered him in recent weeks.

But sometimes disagreement is as good as comfort when it comes to motivating a player, and I’m not surprised he followed up last week’s touchline dispute with Jurgen Klopp with this kind of display. We watched against Tottenham.

I’ve seen something similar happen with other players many times throughout my career, and whenever and wherever it comes from, being able to respond to criticism like this in the right way has been very important to me personally as well.

  • author, Danny Murphy
  • Role, MOTD2 analyst and former Liverpool midfielder

A great example of this was only my second start for Liverpool, against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 1998. Karl-Heinz Riedel got injured on the day of the match, so I came in and played behind Michael Aune in a No. 10 type of role.

I had just turned 21 and was very nervous. I lost my first two balls to some bad touches and Paul Ince, who was our captain, absolutely destroyed me.

My natural reaction in my mind was to think, “I’ll show you.” I ended up being man of the match in the 1-1 draw after playing much of the game alone up front due to Owen being sent off.

“A player trying to prove people wrong”

Video explanation, Liverpool 4-2 Tottenham: Jurgen Klopp says: “Matches like today make Liverpool’s work volatile”

Of course, Salah is a big star, not a young player who just broke into the team. I certainly don’t put myself in the same category as him either, but my point is that I think all players have a choice to make when they get criticized.

It looked as if Klopp had taken a liking to Salah over something when he was about to come on against West Ham last week, and then when he argued the media and even a few fans jumped in to give their opinion on how the player would appear in the match. mistake.

The best way – really the only way – to respond to something like this is to think, “Next game, I’ll show you.” Salah certainly did that.

Comment on the photo, Salah’s goal against Tottenham was his 18th goal in the English Premier League this season

He looked sharp from the start against Tottenham and although he didn’t get it all right, he hit the woodwork a few times and scored his goal as well. He may not have headed the ball where he wanted it to when he made it 1-0, but he was a constant thorn in Spurs’ side.

As I said at the beginning, it’s a shame it didn’t come in time to save Liverpool’s title quest, because they won’t win the league from here.

However, the good thing for any Liverpool fan looking forward to next season and life without Klopp is that Salah looked like a player who was giving everything he could and trying to prove people wrong.

If he was miserable and unhappy and looking for a way out of the club, I wouldn’t have seen a response like that.

Will Salah stay or leave?

Salah turns 32 next June, and he only has one year left on his contract, so there has been a lot of speculation about his future, especially after what happened last week.

In a perfect world, he wouldn’t leave. His reliability in front of goal is clear, and although he will command a significant fee, replacing him and finding someone who can guarantee the same numbers will be impossible.

He has that rare and wonderful quality of scoring goals even when he’s not playing well, so I really hope he stays. But the truth is that he may not. He may imagine a new challenge is the best thing for him and his family.

As good as Salah is, I still believe the new manager’s first priority will be securing Virgil van Dijk’s future.

Like Salah, Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s contract will expire in the summer of 2025. I don’t think getting Trent’s signature will be a problem as he is a local boy who loves Liverpool, but predicting Van Dijk’s next move will be difficult. Much more difficult.

Although the club is always bigger than any individual, and there is always someone new up and coming, Van Dijk’s presence and ability means he is the one player they will miss more than any other.

Why will keeping Van Dijk be key?

When you look at Liverpool’s season as a whole, of course, for obvious reasons, there will be some disappointment with how things have gone.

But there are also more positives than you might think, because they won the title, the Carabao Cup and got back into the Champions League places, something that was not a given after their previous season. There is more to come from this team.

Whether you are the new manager or one of the fans watching Sunday’s game, he has given you a lot to look forward to with the performances of players like Jarrell Quansah, Cody Jacobo or Harvey Elliott, as well as seeing Stevan Bajcetic come in after his long injury. He looks very comfortable on the ball.

Any incoming manager would be very excited at the prospect of working with such young talents, but the balance you need around them on the pitch is embodied in what Van Dijk brings to the team.

He’s a great, calm leader, and he’s also extremely durable – his only long layoff since joining Liverpool in January 2018 was the cruciate ligament injury he suffered while tackling Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, an incident that is in no way Van Dijk’s fault.

During Van Dijk’s time at Anfield, many players benefited from his presence and that influence will continue as long as he remains there.

This is what makes him more important than Salah, and the new contract is crucial. Once you do that, it gives you a great foundation for other players because you know it will mentor and improve the next players.

Danny Murphy was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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