Liverpool may have found next Mohamed Salah in midst of Ajax Champions League magic

Liverpool v Atletico Madrid: Match in pictures

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Mohamed Salah is simply irreplaceable at Anfield but with the Egyptian still yet to sign a new contract at Liverpool, it’s only right that the Reds have a backup plan in mind. The two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner is said to want around £400,000 per week to reflect his importance to the team, while he has already highlighted that he wants to finish his playing career with Liverpool.

But owners FSG are operating with concern knowing that other senior stars at Anfield could use Salah’s increase pay packet as leverage in future contract negotiations, with Sadio Mane also out of contract in 2023.

Liverpool are keen to keep their wage structure intact and that may cause complications in negotiations with Salah and his entourage – although it’s clear they would be plain stupid to risk losing him at the peak of his powers.

Nonetheless, last night’s Champions League action suggests there could well be one player out there potentially capable of replacing Salah, further down the line.

That is Ajax’s Brazilian gem Antony, who has ripped up both the Eredivisie and Europe this season with Erik ten Hag’s side flying on all fronts having now qualified for the knockout stages with four wins from four – like Liverpool.

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The 21-year-old was only signed by the Dutch giants in 2020 from Sao Paolo but he’s needed no time to hit the ground running in Amsterdam, where his value has already trebled.

He cost an initial £13million but now he would easily be worth in excess of £40m due to his performances at both club and international level.

Borussia Dortmund were torn apart by Antony in both of their consecutive defeats to Ajax and last night was further evidence that the winger is operating at a ruthless level on the right flank.

Not only does he have the skills and pace to terrorise full-backs but he also has the end product to match, as well as the ability to go inside or outside.

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His numbers still have some way to go before they reach Salah’s levels of ridiculous productivity but the early signs are there, Antony has the star potential to become a world-beater.

It would be a disservice to Salah to suggest Antony could fill any potential void immediately but in terms of players with stylistic and technical similarities, Antony is firmly on the right track as he continues to develop at a frightening rate.

Liverpool are also open-minded about adding more depth to their squad to keep things competitive, as seen with the £45million signing of Diogo Jota from Wolves.

And bringing in someone of Antony’s ilk would only have a positive impact at Anfield, particularly if the Brazilian can learn from arguably the world’s best player right now.

And whether that’s 2023 or beyond, there will come a day when Liverpool need to locate their next Salah and Mane.

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Rennes’ Jeremy Doku for instance, is said to be one of the names Jurgen Klopp has in mind to replace the Senegal international one day.

Leeds winger and Antony’s international team-mate Raphinha is another player believed to be under consideration and as a right-footed left-winger, it’s easy to see why he’s been suggested as a potential future replacement for the Egyptian.

But with Raphinha, Liverpool’s interest relates more to their desire to continue improving their forward line and bringing in quality options to keep everybody on their toes.

Antony would represent a long-term investment for the future and although the supreme talent is already lighting up the Champions League, it’s clear he would not play over Salah or any of Liverpool’s current frontline.

Yet the Reds would be smart to continue monitoring his development or even to potentially look at capitalising before his market value explodes. He is a rare talent…

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