This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Former Arsenal player Charlie Nicholas believes Liverpool should avoid playing Mohamed Salah in their Champions League tie against Genk on Wednesday.
The Reds will make the short hop to the Luminus Arena to face the reigning Belgian champions, who qualified for Europe’s top tier competition after an eight-year absence.
After their 100% record in the Premier League came to an end after a 1-1 draw against Manchester United, Liverpool will be keen to get back to winning ways on the road in Europe.
The two-time Golden Boot winner Salah missed the game on Sunday due to an ankle injury he picked up during the 2-1 win against Leicester City. However, manager Jurgen Klopp revealed that is already close to a full return.
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Nicholas wrote in his Sky Sports‘ column that the Egyptian should be rested with their next Premier League game in mind against Spurs.
“These are always potentially difficult. Klopp does not have much chance to change things too much. If Mohamed Salah is close to being fit, I would leave him out and get him fit for the Tottenham game, which is another massive match.”
Salah has proved to be an essential player in Klopp’s side over the past two seasons. His absence against the Red Devils was glaring and the Reds simply cannot afford to lose him for a long period.
This stems to what the 27-year-old has achieved since his arrival at Anfield. During his first season, the Egyptian winger managed to score a phenomenal 42 goals in all competitions and provided 14 assists. Salah’s contributions set endless records, which included beating Premier League goal tallies set by Robbie Fowler and Fernando Torres. He went on to win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.
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The impact that the 27-year-old has in the Liverpool team is relentless. However, Nicholas’ comments make a lot of sense with a big game on Sunday against Spurs on the horizon.
The Reds lost all of their away games in the group stage last season and haven’t won away from home at this stage in Europe since beating Maribor 7-0 in 2017. Games against Red Star Belgrade and Napoli were taken lightly due to Klopp’s focus on the league campaign, which they were unlucky to finish second after amassing 97 points.
Liverpool should be prioritising the Premier League after winning the Champions League during the last campaign. With the league title drought continuing to hang over the club’s head, Salah must be saved for the weekend.