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Done deal Liverpool has signed  £70.7m forward who suffered Bundesliga heartbreak instead of Mohamed Salah



Done deal Liverpool has signed  £70.7m forward who suffered Bundesliga heartbreak instead of Mohamed Salah

As Borussia Dortmund’s 2022/23 Bundesliga season came to a heartbreaking end, with the 2-2 comeback draw with Mainz not enough to stop Bayern Munich snatching the title courtesy of a late win over Koln, Jude Bellingham was forced to watch on from the sidelines.

The long-standing Liverpool target has been the undisputed star player in Germany this season, and Dortmund’s star player. However, after a knee injury ruled him out of last weekend’s 3-0 win over FC Augsburg, which had sent BVB top of the table, he was only fit enough for unused substitute duty as their campaign came to a disappointing end.

Bellingham might have played his last game for Dortmund, with the England international expected to move on this summer. Despite interest from the Reds, Liverpool were forced to withdraw from the race to sign Bellingham last month with the 19-year-old now looks set to join Real Madrid.

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He is not the only familiar face to Reds fans in the Dortmund squad, though, with former Liverpool star Emre Can predominantly the man to line up as BVB’s holding midfielder behind Bellingham. Meanwhile, the player who often completes manager Edin Terzic’s midfield trio could have moved to Anfield himself in the summer of 2017.

Germany international Julian Brandt.

Liverpool memorably tried to sign the 27-year-old ahead of club legend Mohamed Salah, only for the German to reject the Reds in favour of staying at Bayer Leverkusen, opting not to move on before the 2018 World Cup.

“My gut feeling and my head are telling me the time to move has not arrived yet,” Brandt explained to Kicker at the time. “I have to straighten things out in Leverkusen.

“Of course there are players who say a year without European football before the World Cup is good reason to move. But if you move to a bigger club a year before the World Cup, you risk taking time at first to settle which possibly means playing fewer games.”

He would later join Borussia Dortmund for £21.7m after they activated his release clause in May 2019, little over a week before Salah was scoring for Liverpool in Madrid as they beat Tottenham to win the Champions League. The Reds, who never resurrected their interest, will have no regrets.

In truth, there is no comparison between what the two players have achieved in the game over the past six years.

Making 304 appearances for Liverpool, Salah has started a whopping 282 times with his consistent availability quite frankly obscene. Meanwhile, his 186 goals makes him the fifth-highest scorer in the club’s history after registering yet another 30-goal season.

His record of 73 assists is not to be sniffed at either. According to LFC History’s records, only five Reds players have set up more goals than Salah since the start of the 1969/70 season.

And of course, he was won every major honour on offer to him with Liverpool, firing the Reds to be crowned champions of England, Europe, and the world.

In contrast, Brand boasts 30 goals and 34 assists from 169 appearances for Dortmund over the past four seasons. Meanwhile, having missed out on the Bundesliga title, a solitary DFB-Pokal remains the only silverware of his BVB career.

However, while Bellingham might make all the headlines, the perhaps overlooked German has also been central to Dortmund’s title-charge this season.

The former Liverpool target started 38 times in all competitions this season, recording 10 goals and nine assists from 42 appearances. Only Bellingham has scored more, with only Raphael Guerreiro registering more assists.

Meanwhile, in the Bundesliga alone, Brandt’s record stood at nine goals and eight assists from 32 appearances. He was Dortmund’s joint-highest goalscorer in the league, ahead of Bellingham, with his combined total of 17 goal contributions the highest in the Dortmund squad and the eighth-best in the division.

The eighth-leading goalscorer, he also finished joint-fifth in the assist charts. While not the absolute standout figures in the Bundesliga, he was the second-highest placed midfielder in all three with only the scorer of Bayern Munich’s title-winning goal, Jamal Musiala, the only one to rank higher.

Admittedly Brandt is very versatile. When at Bayer Leverkusen, he predominantly played as a winger who was capable of playing on both flanks, with it in this role where he earned the interest of Liverpool.

He could also play as a number 10 behind the striker or as a false nine though. And while he has still played each of the roles since moving to Dortmund, now he is regularly more of a number eight.

Yet despite an eye-catching individual campaign, Brandt was unable to emerge as Dortmund’s hero on the final day of the season. In fact, he was the target of supporter frustrations.

The 27-year-old would register three shots on target, but was unable to find a way past goalkeeper Finn Dahmen. Meanwhile, his 74% passing accuracy was the worst total in the Dortmund starting XI, completing 17 of his 23 attempted passes.

His tackle success rate of 43% was also the worst in the match, while he was dribbled past four times – more than any other player. Meanwhile, he was dispossessed more than anyone else (three times).

Withdrawn after 62 minutes, it wasn’t Brandt’s or Dortmund’s day. While BVB fought back to earn a last-minute draw, it wasn’t enough to clinch the title as they missed out on goal difference alone.

A heartbreaking end to an impressive season, Brandt will go again next term. With Bellingham set to leave Dortmund, even more responsibility will fall on his shoulders.

Meanwhile, back at Anfield and the AXA Training Centre, Liverpool’s recruitment team can afford themselves a small smile after persuading Jurgen Klopp that Salah was the man for them after Brandt’s rejection six years ago. How different the Reds’ fortunes could have been over the past six years had the German said yes to their advances and joined ahead of the Egyptian instead.


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Arsenal has just taken a $74m risk that may backfire as Liverpool knows Mohamed Salah difference

It feels like a long time ago now that Liverpool looked at potentially trying to acquire Bukayo Saka — then a promising young left-back coming through the ranks at Arsenal, who the Reds wondered if they might be able to poach.


Borussia Dortmund, according to Football.London, was also taking a look (usually a good sign when it comes to young talent) and since then (about three years), partly helped by his presence in England teams at major tournaments, the 21-year-old has become something of a household name.


This season, he has been a key man for Mikel Arteta as Arsenal took strides forward, and this week, he signed a new long-term contract that ties him down until 2027.


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According to David Ornstein, the winger will earn around $355,000 (£290,000) per week, making him Arsenal’s top earner. Over the four years, it works out at a commitment of around $74m (£60m).


That, though, sets a dangerous precedent. Saka is yet to win a trophy with Arsenal and there is no guarantee that this season’s title tilt is here to stay.


That sort of figure is a Champions League salary, for a club that might not make the top four consistently given the level of competition there is in the Premier League.


More important than that, however, is the fact that a ceiling has been breached. Saka is not Arsenal’s highest-ever earner — that was Mesut Özil — but he is the biggest earner in the current squad.


Declan Rice, if he, for example, was to arrive from West Ham this summer for $100m (£93m/€81m) or more, would surely be expecting a similar sum. A $100m player might reasonably argue that they deserve a ‘$100m wage’.


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And what about Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Ødegaard, or any of the other players that have helped Saka lead the ultimately failed charge against Manchester City? Ødegaard, in particular, could feasibly ask for parity.


Liverpool, of course, decided, after much deliberation and delay, to hand a big-money contract to Mohamed Salah last summer. Crucially, though, that was only after the Egyptian had spearheaded several years of sustained success.


Only a couple of seasons missing out by a single point stopped the Reds from dominating, and the Premier League and Champions League titles they did earn were significantly helped to be achieved by a player that was for a large period a leading candidate for being the best player on the planet.


Saka is undoubtedly very good, but he is not at those levels. Salah has 186 goals in 304 appearances for Liverpool; he scored seven more in his first season at Anfield than Saka has in total for the Gunners to date.


That is not to say that Saka is not brilliant. He very much is, he is already one of the top talents around, and will probably go on to have an excellent career. But Arsenal, by giving him that sort of deal so early on, have set the bar very high.


It is the kind of risk that Liverpool has avoided, and it remains to be seen whether it pays off.

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