Who Are the Genuine Alternatives, Should Salah Leave Next Summer…?
We are a little over two months until the winter transfer window opens, which hopefully represents the countdown to where we see Liverpool sign that much-needed defensive midfielder. Former holding midfield targets, Moisés Caicedo and Roméo Lavia, have had limited success since their respective moves to Chelsea, however, I cannot help but think how much stronger this current Liverpool 2.0 would look with either in Red. Another issue, one which is equally important, is assessing and fully understanding the long-term intentions of Mohamed Salah. The turn of the new year will see the Egyptian King enter the final 18 months of his current contract, one which could be his last for the Anfield club. My want and desire would be to see the legendary forward re-sign for two more additional years (on top of the 18-months) and sold on only after two and a half long-term years more on Merseyside. Ultimately, the regeneration of this Liverpool squad can no longer tolerate losing valuable commodities for free, which means that the next Sporting Director must prioritise (after a CDM purchase of course), the short- and long-term future of our record-breaking wide forward.
Liverpool Eyes Pedro Neto
With the potential of £150-£200 being bid for our number 11 at the end of this season, it is a real possibility that he may take this opportunity to move to the Saudi Pro League, where he would automatically be the division’s most outstanding player and recruit. To be the face of a growing enterprise within an Arab nation may become too enticing, especially as the end of his elite-level career beckons. I cannot even fathom the money that some of the state-funded teams would throw at the former Roma attacker, which makes extending his current Liverpool deal even more difficult. If circumstances require a sale at the end of this campaign, then there are only a few players that could attempt to directly replace what would be lost. Below are six players I believe could take up that right-sided position, however, receiving a world record fee would also allow other areas of the squad to be addressed.
Possible Salah Exit Spurs Search
From the above list, the remainder of this article will focus in on Wolves’ electric and predominantly left-sided forward, until this season that is. This current campaign has seen the 5ft 8-inch man utilized almost exclusively from Salah’s preferred right-wing position. The diminutive Portuguese star tormented and harassed Joe Gomez earlier in the season (from his one game on the left), despite the England defender having enjoyed a very good season so far. Some wingers can become explosive and at times unplayable, with the likes of Kaoru Mitoma and our own Luis Díaz coming to mind. Below are some of the details on Wolves’ 23-year-old attacker.
Pedro Neto’s Premier League season so far by numbers:
🏟️ 9 games
🅰️ 6 assists
🏃 5.2 ball recoveries per 90 mins
🪄 5 big chances created
🔑 2.7 key passes per 90 mins
🕺 2.2 dribbles completed per 90 mins
⚽ 1 goal
Assist king. 👑 pic.twitter.com/fHUPZ7WRCO
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 26, 2023
Scouting Neto’s Performance
Age – 23-years-old (DOB 9/03/2000)
Current Club – Wolves
Playing Positions – RW / LW
Height – 5ft 8inches
Weight – 62kg
Appearances – 141 games
Career Goals & Assists – 15 / 20
Total Minutes Played – 7,789
International Caps & Goals – 5 games / 1 goal
Contract Expiry – June 30 – 2027
Transfermarkt Value – €32m
2023/24 stats, so far.
9 games played / 810 minutes
1 goal and 6 assists.
Despite a tricky injury record (a knee and ankle injury kept him out for over a year in total), this current season might be the breakthrough period where he can produce a consistent run that allows the opportunity for a big move. There is no denying the former Braga player has elite-level talents, however, the Reds have been burnt by too many injury-plagued assets in the era of Jürgen Klopp. A strong campaign will absolutely put him in the mix (with targets listed prior), as the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal continue to monitor his impressive performances.
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) October 18, 2023
Neto’s Potential Role at Anfield
How Would Neto Fit into The Reds Structure…?
As more of a creative wide man than inside forward, his ability to assist would benefit the likes of Darwin Núñez, Cody Gakpo, and his former Molineux teammate, Diogo Jota, more than anyone. There is a slow shift which is enabling the central strikers to take on more of the goal burden, which would also allow Dominik Szoboszlai to join the central striker, as Diaz and Neto stretch the pitch. By recruiting both Darwin and Cody, it is evident that this regeneration is slowly building to the day when Mohamed Salah departs. The addition of an assist-heavy winger as the former Roma man’s eventual replacement may one day see the goal threat replicated, yet the initial stage will surely be about unleashing more physicality through the middle.
Transfer Rumours Intensify
The transfer rumours will persist, which will see certain players want to impress the Anfield scouts. Pedro Neto is a sensational attacking player; therefore, I hope this summer sees our next Sporting Director make a move, regardless of any departures.