If there’s one small downside to having a squad full of brilliant footballers, it’s that they’ll be the envy of other big clubs. With the summer transfer window fast approaching, stories are starting to emerge linking Liverpool players with overseas moves.
In some ways, it’s unavoidable. The club’s legendary front three Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are all set to enter the final year of their current contracts, so if extensions are not agreed it will be the Reds’ last chance to sell them for a fee (should they choose).
At the moment, it is Mane who is attracting the most interest. He has been linked with Barcelona and Bayern Munich this week alone, who are super clubs worthy of his status as one of the best attacking players in the world.
There are no signs that Liverpool are looking to say goodbye to the Senegal international after six fabulous seasons with the club. However, whether he leaves this summer or not, the Reds need to be prepared for when Mane leaves. With that in mind, here are some potential replacements.
Martin Terrier, Rennes
What’s great about Liverpool strikers is that they can score a lot of goals when they start in wide areas, yet are versatile enough to play in the middle. A player capable of this is Martin Terriera 25-year-old player who plays for Rennes.
He is second in Europe’s big five leagues for goals scored starting on the wing – a ranking Salah tops – and having also scored as a centre-forward, Terrier only has Kylian Mbappe ahead of him in the Ligue 1 Golden Boot race.
Oh, and the identity of the player that statistically most resembles him, at least according to Statsbomb? Mane.
Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig
Speaking of players with similar numbers, because Mane has played both center and outside, he has a 10-man roster for both positions, and Christophe Nkunku is the only male who appears on both.
The 24-year-old has also been linked with the Reds on several occasions in the past. While RB Leipzig are naturally looking for a significant fee (apparently in the region of £60million), Liverpool have a good relationship with them so they can strike a deal.
LONG READ: The Liverpool icon went from sleeping in a shed to inventing the Adidas Predator
EXCLUSIVE: Fan-loved Liverpool striker lived his dream before triumph, tragedy and abrupt transfer exit
READ MORE: Alex Ferguson ‘fired’ his own Man United player after Liverpool dressing room row
Nkunku is having the season of his life. Only five players in the big leagues have more goals without penalties in 2021/22 and only two have more assists. Like Mane, he can play on the frontline and his Champions League hat-trick against Manchester City will immediately endear him to Kopites.
Karl Toko-Ekambi, Lyon
Karl Toko-Ekambi is a player who has long since emerged as a statistical match for both Mane and Salah. He turns 30 in September and therefore wouldn’t represent a long-term replacement, but he could certainly work as a substitute for Luis Diaz on the left of the attack.
The Cameroonian has hit double league goals in four of the last five seasons and his dribbling ability resembles that of Liverpool’s number 10.
Mane has been among the Premier League’s top 10 players for carrying the ball in the penalty area in each of the last five seasons, and Toko-Ekambi has achieved it in his leagues in three of them.
Amine Gouiri, Nice
Scoring at least seven goals without penalty while providing at least seven assists isn’t too unusual. Twenty-nine players from Europe’s top five leagues have achieved this so far in 2021/22, and Amine Gouiri is one of them.
However, he is one of only four who were also born in 2000 or later, which puts him in elite company with Erling Haaland, Vinicius Junior and Florian Wirtz. Last season, Gouiri and Jadon Sancho were the only 21st players born in the century to achieve the feat.
Primarily a centre-forward, the France Under-21 international can also play on the left, and as he is among the top five per cent of strikers to have completed dribbles he seems a suitable candidate to attempt the task. almost impossible to replace Mane.