Former Liverpool defender Markus Babbel runs the rule over the Reds’ European chances; weighs in on Salah contract situation
Liverpool has embarked on a high-flying run of form after Christmas that has seen them win 10-matches in succession and dating back to the aftermath of their November loss against West Ham at the London Stadium, posting a 16-2-1 record in the Premier League which has brought them to within one point of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
The Reds are in a real position to potentially leapfrog City before the end of the current 2021-22 campaign and the pair come to grips this coming weekend at the Etihad Stadium in a fixture that could make or break the title challenge of both clubs.
There is a real spirit of optimism around the club’s chances not only on the domestic front but in the Champions League where their form in England could potentially carry over to the continent.
consecutive wins on the road in the #UCL this season pic.twitter.com/ksxzOSMkxE
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 6, 2022
In that light, former Liverpool and Germany defender Markus Babbel has weighed in regarding the run of the Reds this season when speaking with Bet365 recently about their run since Christmas, their chances in Europe, and the situation regarding the contract with star forward Mohammed Salah and how the club could look to replace him should he move on from Anfield this summer.
“They have the quality for it [to win the Champions League],” Babble said, ” you see how strong they are with strength in depth. They have 16-18 really good players which is a huge advantage. If someone got injured half a year ago, it was a problem – now it’s not an issue.”
“The new players have settled in brilliantly. Konaté was struggling at first and now he’s looking very comfortable. Díaz too, another new player, I can’t believe how well he’s doing! You’d think he’d been playing for Liverpool for ten years.”
“Of course, Liverpool has the quality so my dream is either Liverpool or Bayern Munich lifting the Champions League at the end of this season.”
Babbel also gave Liverpool the edge over German giants Bayern Munich when it came to the comparison of their squads in terms of overall quality while also naming them one of the favorited to go on and win the competition.
“Difficult to say, both clubs have the potential to win it. Man City, Real Madrid, and these other clubs can also win the title, but I would say Man City and Liverpool are the favourites. Their squads are unbelievable. Bayern Munich has excellent players, but I think their squad is not big enough.”
“In the Champions League though, anything is possible in the knockout format of one to two games. I believe with Liverpool, the squad is bigger, they have more quality in there than Bayern Munich but if everyone from the first team is fit, it could go either way.”
Babbel assesses how Liverpool should handle a Mohammed Salah departure
Though the current season still remains one of immense hope and possibility for Liverpool, the reality that star forward Mohammed Salah could depart Anfield if his current contract situation is not sorted out is one that may not be able to be avoided.
Salah reportedly wants a deal that could be worth up to £400k-a-week and it remains to be seen whether the Reds are willing to subscribe to that level of financial commitment on one player.
Salah recently put in a poor performance against SL Benfica that drew criticism from the fanbase after he only completed 61-minutes against the Portuguese giants, and as it stands, there is nothing new to add to the situation on Merseyside regarding his future according to boss Jürgen Klopp.
Babbel weighed in on the situation regarding the Egyptian icon, and what he would deem acceptable reasons why he could possibly depart the club.
“It’s difficult to say from the outside. I know he’s a brilliant player for Liverpool. For me, it’s a question of what he wants to do. Is he still happy at Liverpool or does he want to see something different?”
“Not many clubs can afford him, Liverpool has said this is what you want, and this is what we can pay so now I hope they can agree to terms. Mo Salah is the perfect player for Liverpool Football Club and I’m not sure he would perform as he does for Barcelona, Real Madrid, or another team out there.”
“The club is perfectly placed for Mo and allows him to be the outstanding player he is. I really hope he does sign a new contract; it’ll be very sad if he leaves. I hope he’s smart enough to see that the club is perfect for my style of football, the people here love me, the city loves me, and the club loves me.”
“Would more money make him happier? I don’t think so. The only reason he could have is if he wants to live in a new country and experience a new league. He’s been in Switzerland, Italy, England he may want to live a different lifestyle, culture, and language – I could accept that, but not if just about the money.”
But should Salah end up elsewhere while potentially leaving Liverpool reeling with how to replace one of the world’s top forwards, links with the Reds eyeing youthful Arsenal duo Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli as a potential long-term replacement for the Egyptian star have cropped up at certain points this season. But for Babbel, he thinks the club would be capable of looking within for internal solutions but would trust the club to get their business right if they did seek to rectify the situation outside its borders.
Arsenal star Bukayo Saka revealed as the BEST performing Under 21 outfield player in world football https://t.co/Rs8FcVkuo5
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) April 4, 2022
“It’s difficult to say what Klopp’s plans are but what I like from Liverpool is they are not buying players like other teams. They have their academy and go looking in there for new starters. This is what I love about the club, they always ask what they have in their academy before looking to sign from another team.”
“If Mo leaves, they’re not under so much pressure because they have Diaz now, Jota too. Of course, you’d lose a fantastic player if Salah went, but you’re not so under pressure that you need to fix it in one or two weeks. They have the luxury of spending the time to find the right player.”
“It’s unbelievable really when you think that every player they’ve brought in has worked out, this is the most difficult thing for a club to do: finding the right players for the style of how the club wants to play, from the budget to the philosophy of the club.”
“Since Jurgen Klopp has joined, they’ve done an amazing job with recruitment. Not only that, but Klopp is making the existing players even better too. The transformation in Matip from four years ago to now is unbelievable. Him and Van Dijk are sensational. Trent and Robertson too…unbelievable how much they’ve improved.”
“It’s fantastic to watch and is why Liverpool as a club is so loved. Man City, they spend so much money. Buy the best player for this position, buy the best player for that position. It’s the same with PSG, there’s no philosophy in that. Liverpool though still has the philosophy of bringing through academy players and finding the best players for their style of football. Of course, they still spend money, but it’s spent so well and efficiently.”