With Salah, Mane and Keita heading off to the African Cup of Nations in the New Year, Jurgen Klopp has reason to be fearful, but Minamino and Origi could be Liverpool’s answer
Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi proved on Wednesday night that Liverpool ’s back-up boys are good enough.
The pair both hit second half strikes against Preston North End to send the Reds into the Carabao Cup quarterfinals and perhaps more pertinently send a message to manager Jurgen Klopp.
While the German has no doubt been basking in the glory of sparking a Manchester United meltdown following his side’s 5-0 drubbing of their fierce rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday, ominous clouds have begun to gather on the horizon.
With hat-trick hero Mohamed Salah off to the 2022 African Cup of Nations in January along with teammates Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, Klopp looks set to lose numerous key stars and possibly his side’s title hopes.
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The tournament was briefly cast into doubt following the governing body of African Football claiming that “urgent attention” was needed for the competition to go ahead, but any Liverpool hopes of a cup cancellation have fallen by the wayside.
It has been swiftly announced since that should Cameroon fail to be able to fulfil their duties as hosts, South Africa will step up and the tournament will take place.
So, with Salah, Mane and Keita all absent for up to a month in January should their respective nations of Egypt, Senegal and Guinea go all the way, Klopp had good reason to be fearful.
But following Wednesday’s win, perhaps not.
Both Minamino and Origi provided a timely reminder that Liverpool boast an impressive depth to their squad and plenty of options waiting in the wings, ready to seize their opportunities.
The German boss should be able to allay any fears of the need to dip into the transfer market in January after calls from some quarters to splash out on striking cover.
Can Minamino and Origi step up while Salah and Mane are away at the African Cup of Nations? Have your say in the comments.
With Salah – who has netted in each of his last ten appearances in a Liverpool shirt – and Mane out of action for the Reds come the New Year, Klopp had been urged to bolster the squad in the fear that the Anfield side could be short of options.
Last season saw disaster strike as injuries ravaged the squad and derailed Liverpool’s defence of their Premier League crown and with one eye already on the impending disruptions caused by the African Cup of Nations, some fans feared this season could have a similar fate.
The Liverpool trio could miss up to eight matches although Klopp has revealed he is negotiating a compromise to release his players later than the reported date of December 27.
On the subject, Klopp recently said: “We knew it (Salah and Mane’s absences), we have to deal with it and we will deal with it. How? We will see in January.
“People now say we have to sign two strikers with the same quality of Sadio and Mo. That cannot be a solution as we cannot do that, so we have to find a solution for that.”
Although Minamino and Origi are clearly short of the quality Mane and Salah possess, both have shown Klopp in the Preston triumph that he might not even have to splash out January to address his concerns.
He may have the perfect replacements to hand already.
Minamino and Origi look ready to step up and carry Liverpool’s title hopes if given another chance to shine.