Will Liverpool’ season collapse without Salah

No Premier League player has scored more goals this season or racked up more assists than the Egyptian, who is now off to the Ivory Coast

Mohamed Salah took temporary leave of LIverpool in the best possible fashion on New Year’s Day, scoring twice i a 4-2 win over Newcastle to propel Jurgen Klopp’s team three points clear at the top of the Premier League.

However, it was a bittersweet goodbye, because the Egyptians latest virtuoso display at Anfield also served as a painful reminder of just how much he will be missed on Merseyside over the next few weeks. Salah, remember, has been the outstanding player in the Premier League this season (and ever since his arrival in England in 2016, in fairness). Nobody has scored (14) or created (eight) more goals than the winger.

His importance to Liverpool cannot be overstated, then, so how on earth are they going to cope without him? Is there a real risk of the Reds’ campaign unravelling while Salah is at the Africa Cup of Nations? After all, he’s certain to miss this weekend’s FA Cup trip to Arsenal, the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Fulham and the Premier League meeting with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, while if Egypt were to reach the semi-finals in Ivory Coast, the 32-year-old would also be unavailable for massive matches against Chelsea and Arsenal.

Klopp is remaining calm. “It’s not the first time,” he pointed out ahead of the Newcastle game. “It’s obviously a really very average situation when you lose your goalscorer, but we had it even worse in the past when both Mo and Sadio (Mane) left, and we came through it somehow. And traditionally one of them always went pretty far in the tournament, which makes it even worse. But we just have to get through this.”

Their hopes of doing so, though, very much hinge upon other players stepping up to the mark over the next few weeks and, right now, some players look better equipped than others to help fill the considerable goalscoring void left behind by Salah…