Why Salah is the best fit for Real Madrid
Since leaving Chelsea in 2015, Egypt’s star man Mohamed Salah has only gone from strength to strength. After establishing himself as one of the best players in Serie A with his stints at Fiorentina and Roma, he earnt a move to Liverpool in which he became the most expensive African player in history. Due to his fine form under Klopp, it is only natural that he would attract interest from some of the world’s best teams. Most notably, Real Madrid appear to be pursuing him among a host of other forwards, and here is why he would be the best man for the job.
Real Madrid’s famous “BBC” frontline has produced one La Liga and three Champions League wins since its formation in 2013, however due to a mix of injuries, age and general substandard form means that they are looking to rejuvenate the side going forward. Last summer they attempted to sign French wonderkid Kylian Mbappe, however he opted to sign for his hometown club Paris Saint-Germain instead making him seemingly unattainable.
Some of the names linked with Los Blancos include Mauro Icardi (Internazionale), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), with Mohamed Salah seemingly being the primary option on the right wing. A big reason for this is that while Gareth Bale often performs well when given the chance, he has suffered several injuries which have caused him to miss 66 games since joining the club at the start of the 2013-14 season.
Without Bale in the squad, Real Madrid can lack pace on the break due to Ronaldo not being as explosive as he was in his younger years. As can be seen in his goals against Arsenal and Juventus for Liverpool and Fiorentina, Salah is one of the fastest players on the planet and could be the solution to give Real Madrid the same cutting edge on the counter that they had under Mourinho in the early parts of this decade.
Zinedine Zidane has been under a lot of pressure in recent weeks due to some poor results which have seen Real Madrid fall to 4th in La Liga from last season’s first place finish, but on the assumption that he will still be in the job come next season the preferred systems vary between a 4-3-3 with two interior midfielders either side of a defensive mid and a 4-4-2 diamond. Salah would be better suited to the 4-3-3 as it would be the same position and formation that he has played in for Liverpool and Roma, however the diamond system may also work for the Egyptian as he has played as a support striker in the past at national team level. While his current role at Liverpool is on the wing on paper, he plays as the focal point of Liverpool’s attack as Firmino takes up the role of a false 9. This means that not only is his role similar to that of a striker, but he would also be suited to Real Madrid’s 4-3-3 as, provided he is still first choice striker, Karim Benzema also plays deeper than a conventional striker and is often referred to as a “9 and a half” due to his playmaking ability and tactical similarities to a “10”, or attacking midfielder. As Salah has a tendency to cut in from the right onto his favoured left foot, this would also provide a perfect opportunity for Carvajal to push forward on the overlap and display his attacking qualities which have been somewhat lacking so far this season.
A lot of Real Madrid’s problems this season have come from not having a prolific goalscorer in the league, with Ronaldo leading the list on 8 goals followed by Bale on 6. Compare that to Salah, who has 21 goals in the Premier League this season, and its clear to see how much of a difference he would make. Furthermore, one of Real Madrid’s other key targets is Eden Hazard who has never scored more than 16 Premier League goals in a season, and with the likes of Kroos, Isco, Marcelo and Modric behind the attack it would be fair to say that Los Blancos need someone to finish off the chances much more than someone else who can create them. With Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly coming towards the twilight years of his career, it may be an option in the future to move Bale (or Hazard if he is signed) over to the left wing in which case they would need someone to replicate his goals from wide areas. and no other winger has scored more in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season than Salah.
In current terms, Benzema has sustained his place in the Real Madrid setup due to his selflessness and his tendency to supply others ahead of going for personal glory, particularly sacrificing a lot of his personal gain for Ronaldo’s benefit over the years. The bulk of Real Madrid’s targets, specifically Icardi and Kane, have always been their respective teams’ equivalent to Ronaldo and would have to adjust to playing second fiddle to the Portuguese talisman. Alternatively, while Salah is the main man in attack for Liverpool and Egypt currently he has played as more of a supplier in the past, most notably in his final season at Roma where he was responsible for a lot of Dzeko’s 39 goals in all competitions. Should he join the Spanish giants, Salah is the only one of the shortlist who can provide both a long and short term solution for Real Madrid.
It is widely believed that due to their disappointing season, Florentino Perez is targetting a Galactico-esque summer. A key component of similar Real Madrid signings of the past has been marketability, notably with signings such as Beckham, Bale, James Rodriguez and Chicharito providing a huge marketing boost in the past. While there are other big names on their shortlist, Salah is by far the most marketable by virtue of being one of the most popular players in Africa and the Arab world. By comparison, Eden Hazard is from a relatively small country in Belgium who have a host of stars for him to compete with, and this could be a factor in who Real Madrid choose to pursue.
To conclude, while there is no denying that Real Madrid’s list of targets only contains phenomenal players, Salah is the only one who can play in any attacking position as well as being the only one with experience as both a playmaker and as the main attacking threat. Apart from Hazard he is also the only one proven in multiple leagues and if his career so far is anything to go by, he should take to life in the Spanish capital like a duck to water.
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