Exclusive: Markus Babbel on signing for Manchester United, Mohamed Salah's contract & more

Exclusive: Markus Babbel on signing for Manchester United, Mohamed Salah's contract & more

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Anfield Watch, former Liverpool player Markus Babbel has told us who he thinks will win the Champions League and if he thinks Mohamed Salah and Jurgen Klopp will sign new contracts.

Markus Babbel played 73 games for Liverpool from 2000 to 2002. Despite not reaching the heights fans were hoping for at Liverpool, he's still fondly remembered.

In this interview, the former Liverpool player has given us his thoughts on a range of topics from Klopp's contract to revealing how close he was to joining Manchester United.

Two of your former clubs, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are still able to win the Champions League this season. Who do you think has a better chance to take home the trophy?

"Difficult to say, both clubs have the potential to win it. Man City, Real Madrid and these other clubs can also win the title, but I would say Man City and Liverpool are the favourites," said Markus.

"Their squads are unbelievable. Bayern Munich have excellent players, but I think their squad is not big enough.

"In the Champions League though, anything is possible in the knockout format of one to two games. I believe with Liverpool, the squad is bigger, they have more quality in there than Bayern Munich but if everyone from the first team is fit, it could go either way."

What are your thoughts on the Salah contract situation?

"It's difficult to say from the outside. I know he's a brilliant player for Liverpool. For me, it’s a question of what he wants to do. Is he still happy at Liverpool or does he want to see something different?" said Babbel.

"Not many clubs can afford him, Liverpool have said this is what you want, and this is what we can pay so now I hope they can agree on terms.

"Mo Salah is the perfect player for Liverpool Football Club and I'm not sure he would perform like he does for Barcelona, Real Madrid or another team out there.

"The club is perfectly placed for Mo and allows him to be the outstanding player he is. I really hope he does sign a new contract; it’ll be very sad if he leaves.

"I hope he's smart enough to see that the club is perfect for my style of football, the people here love me, the city loves me, the club loves me. Would more money make him happier? I don't think so.

"The only reason he could have, is if he wants to live in a new country and experience a new league. He's been in Switzerland, Italy, England - he may want to live a different lifestyle, culture and language - I could accept that, but not if it was just about the money."

"They can yes, especially with the depth in that squad," said Babbel. "They have 16-18 fantastic players, and the rest of the squad are good. They have quality for it but they will need a bit of luck too, no injuries or unexpected mishaps.

"Teams like Bayern Munich, Man City and Real Madrid will make it difficult."

How close were you to joining Manchester United?

"Very close," Babbel confirmed. "At this time, it was a record fee, nobody had ever been signed for that fee before. I was talking to United, but my agent said to me, 'Markus there is something wrong. They are willing to pay this much on your transfer fee, but your salary is ok, nothing more. With this money on the transfer fee, they should be paying a lot higher wages.'"

"I said, ‘OK I don't have to leave if it's not right, I'm happy to stay at Bayern Munich’, it’s a fantastic club and afterwards with hindsight, I'm so happy it didn't happen. They wanted to sign me as a centre-back, but I wasn't the best at centre back!

"In Germany, I always played with three at the back, so it was a different game for me: three versus two centre backs. The right side was the perfect position for me in that United back four, but they had Gary Neville, one of the greatest right-backs at the time. I'm so glad I listened to my agent and waited to go to Liverpool."

Luis Diaz, what have you made of him?

"It's not normal what he's doing," said Markus. "From Portugal to the Premier League - of course, Porto is a massive club with many quality players there - but the league is not as good as the Premier League.

"From the first day, you'd think he'd been playing for the team for 10 years. I've not seen a player adapt this well from joining during a winter break ever before. He's had no pre-season, just performed from day one."

Do you think Klopp could leave after his contract runs out?

"If he leaves Liverpool, then he's retiring," said Babbel. "After Liverpool where do you go? You can't go to Bayern, you can't join another English club, the only thing I can imagine is the German national team.

"If Hansi Flick isn't successful then maybe he has a go with the National team, but he's so full of fire I can't see him leaving anytime soon. So much energy, he's so happy with his boys, I can't believe he'll finish when his contract expires."

This interview was facilitated by Bet365

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