Former LOI manager Shane Keegan believes the gaping Mohamed Salah-sized hole was evident last night in Anfield as Liverpool concluded their Carabao Cup semi-final with a 0-0 draw versus a 10 man Arsenal.
Granit Xhaka’s sending off may have been a major talking point, but so too was the lack of Salah's signature on a new deal.
His current spell on international duty for Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations is a taste of what life would be like should the Egyptian move away from Anfield in the near future.
Jurgen Klopp’s outfit find themselves in a unique position as a result of being down the 29-year-old sharpshooter.
Last night’s showing left a lot to be desired against “not even a full strength Arsenal”, in the words of ex-Dundalk coach Shane Keegan.
Keegan joined Eoin and Aisling on Friday's OTB AM. He argued that the absence of their talismanic right winger has left Liverpool's attack looking like a corked sword.
“With Salah gone, they are in a bit of trouble as to how the chances are going to come about,” Keegan said.
“There’s very few teams you could say this about, but if you take out the star man and say ‘who’s the go-to to either score chances or create chances without Salah around?’ It’s your right back.”
Trent Alexander Arnold is the player in question. His dip in form doesn’t aid The Red’s hopes, although it may benefit teammate Salah in the long run.
Keegan: “Liverpool are just going have to bite the bullet"
“I’m not saying he’ll be sitting there hoping Liverpool struggle while he’s away, but there’s a certain strength in his claims for a stronger contract there anyway,” Keegan commented.
“I personally would be amazed if it’s not just hard ball and negotiation tactics.”
“Essentially what it boils down to is the length of term for the contract” he added.
There are reports that Liverpool are offering a two-year deal while the ‘Egyptian King’ pushing for three.
Keegan reflects that the wages may serve the greater good of the club if they can retain the forward at his “ridiculous peak level” for a sustained period of time.
“They’re going to just have to bite the bullet. They’re going to have to pay for what they’re getting at the moment for the next three years for the sake of trying to keep him for the next year or two.”
“If you’re still paying him an astronomical wage at three and he’s not quite at the same level, then you’re probably still up on the deal if you can keep the level that he’s hit at the moment."