Liverpool have to choose between Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino before long. But who will the Reds pick?
If you had to choose one part of the Liverpool team that stands above all others over the last few years, you’d opt for the front three. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been next-level.
All three are elite players but also offer a wonderful example of the sum of their parts becoming even greater. The trio meshes together to near perfection.
Each are capable of scoring goals at a great rate, though Salah particularly stands out in that regard. All three are creative, too, and contribute to Liverpool’s world-class press.
Tactically, too, they’re a fit. Firmino likes to drop deep and pull defenders away, which creates space for the wingers to run into. Liverpool have used the three of them to absolute perfection.
Unfortunately, though, it will likely all come to an end soon.
Salah, Mane or Firmino?
We’ve been banging this particular drum for a while but Liverpool’s squad is all ageing together. Virtually the entire core will be 30 or over by the start of the 2022/23 season.
Now, that doesn’t mean everyone will suddenly fade. In fact, several of those stars will be good for another three or four years.
But the true problem, as outlined in the Athletic here, will be when the time comes to replace them. Liverpool can’t afford to do that all at once.
Literally, in fact. Bringing in three world-class strikers at once is virtually impossible and even if it was, would cost a fortune Liverpool don’t have.
Not only that but the new trio wouldn’t have the same chemistry the current three do. Let alone the fact that all three would have to learn Liverpool’s systems at once. It would be expensive and almost definitely worse.
The only way around that is to do it piece by piece. Sell one, replace him, and spend a year teaching that player. Then you replace another the year after and do the same.
You spread the cost over years and make it easier for each new player to adapt. It’s really the only sensible way.
But that means Liverpool need to choose who stays and goes from their front three. If we had to guess, the most expensive player would leave first as their values are quickly declining.
That’s almost certainly Salah and we’d expect Liverpool to move him on first. As for Firmino and Mane – it’s a coin-flip. Neither will have great value past 30 or at least, not the value their talents should command.
It might just come down to whoever is easier to replace moves first in order to create more time for the other one. We’re not sure who that is, though.
As they all push 30, crunch time nears. Liverpool will have to choose between Salah, Mane and Firmino over the next year or two. It won’t be an easy decision but it’s likely necessary.