£112.9m man and £262k a week ace make the cut: Combined Liverpool and Atletico Madrid XI
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Combined Liverpool and Atletico Madrid XI

With Liverpool set to take on Atletico Madrid this evening, here’s what I think the best XI would be if you had to combine the two squads.

Let’s assume, in this hypothetical scenario, that Jurgen Klopp is the manager because, for all Diego Simeone’s defensive brilliance, his sides play dire football at times.

Goalkeeper – Alisson Becker

Last season, I might have gone with Jan Oblak as the Slovenian was easily the best goalkeeper on the planet. But this time round it is a much closer contest and, with Alisson in fine form for the Reds, I will stick him in net.

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Also, Keita scored a volley against Obklak from long range which pops the bubble around his aura of invincibility somewhat.

Left-back – Andy Robertson

I don’t think this is much of a contest even if Robbo is struggling for form somewhat this season.

Left centre-backVirgil van Dijk

Still the best defender in the world despite his ACL injury last season and, while he seems slower, the Dutchman is steadily working his way back to the level he was at before Jordan Pickford damaged his knee ligaments.

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Right centre-back – Joel Matip

The Cameroonian may well not start tonight after struggling with injury recently. But he is comfortably better than all of Atletico Madrid’s central defenders and, this season, he has come into his own.

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Matip has actually been operating at a higher level than van Dijk at times this season and his ability to carry the ball into midfield, allowing the Reds to pin teams back, is just fantastic to watch.

Right-back – Trent Alexander-Arnold

The Scouser is the best right-back on the planet and, with four assists this season, he’s still contributing to Liverpool’s attack and is certainly better than Kieran Trippier. Although Gareth Southgate seems to disagree for some reason.

Defensive-midfielder – Fabinho

The Brazilian is probably only behind Casemiro and N’Golo Kante as far as the most talented ball winners in the world are concerned. But what he has that the latter doesn’t is quarterback-esque ball-playing ability.

Right central midfielder – Koke

The Spaniard, who earns £262,000 a week, is one of the most underrated and underappreciated midfielders in the world. Given the functional nature of Jurgen Klopp’s midfield, he would fit in very well.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

He’s also not just a ball winner. Koke is the full package and is blessed with pinpoint passing and great vision.

Left central midfielder – Thiago

Set to return to action soon, the former Bayern Munich star would form a great partnership with Koke if they got the chance to play more than a handful of games together for the Spanish national team.

Left wing – Sadio Mane

After a poor 19/20 season by his lofty standards, Mane is back to his best and has 14 goals for club and country this season.

With a strong base behind him in this hypothetical side, he would have the freedom to run at defenders and in behind the back line as much as he’d like.

Right-wing – Mohamed Salah

The best player in the world right now. 17 goals for club and country and he’s only failed to score in two club games for Liverpool this season.

Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Unbelievable player.

Centre-forward – Joao Felix

The only player at Atletico Madrid apart from Thomas Lemar that I would sign for Liverpool in an absolute heartbeat. He’s still only 21 and has a very bright future ahead of him.

10 goals and 6 assists last season was a decent return but I have no doubt he can improve on that in the years to come and he almost needs to since Atletico Madrid spent €126m (£112.9m) to sign him.

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