Salah's uncertain future and the five talking points from Liverpool's derby defeat to Everton

Liverpool have crashed out of the FA Cup and the Europa League in recent weeks and, following defeat to Everton at Goodison Park, it looks likely that the Premier League is gone too. 

This is a seismic Merseyside Derby defeat, laying bare the flaws within the Liverpool squad and giving the impression that the players and the coach are now going through the motions. 

We will celebrate Jurgen Klopp when he goes and give him credit for restoring the club to glory but at the current moment in time this season can’t end quickly enough. 

The end is nigh and it’s not pretty

This didn’t just feel like a defeat. It felt like the end - the end of the Premier League title challenge and the end of the Jurgen Klopp era overall.

Losing the odd game here and there is to be expected over the course of a season but to surrender a derby like this is the most worrying sign since Klopp announced his departure.

This is a team who lost 6-0 to Chelsea for heaven’s sake. And yet Liverpool were outfought by the Toffees and, when their chances came, couldn’t take them.

There was so much to be disappointed about at Goodison Park not least that the final Klopp derby ended in a bitter defeat but also that his reign as a whole is fizzling out into nothing.

From the team selection to the substitutions, this was not the type of Heavy Metal football we’ve come to expect. It was phoned in.

Too many games? Too many injuries? Lack of motivation? Who knows but the end is nigh, and it’s not pretty. 

Can Liverpool ever compete with Darwin as No.9?

To pick on one player after that type of performance might seem harsh but it’s not the story of one game, it’s not the story of one chance, it’s the story of the business end of a season where a £85 million striker went missing.

Darwin Nunez will have his backers who say his goal record is actually pretty good. Well when the chips were down over the past few weeks, the Uruguayan’s touch has deserted him completely.

He's been goalless since the defeat of Sheffield United on April 4. Big games against Manchester United and Crystal Palace passed by without him troubling the scoreboard - despite being given ample opportunity.

Darwin Nunez, Liverpool

Football - FA Premier League - Manchester United, ManU FC v Liverpool FC MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 7, 2024: Liverpool s Darwin Nunez reacts after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda MANCHESTER Old Trafford GREATER MANCHESTER ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex 2024-04-07-106-Man_Utd_Liverpool

Then, worst of all, he missed the golden chance to put the Reds back in the game at the end of the first half at Goodison, firing straight at the goalkeeper just like he did against Palace. How costly that could prove to be.

Will Liverpool ever be able to compete at the top end for the biggest prizes with a No.9 as wasteful as Nunez? After two years, it might be time to admit not. 

Reds must be ruthless in transfer market

There will be some players in Liverpool red feeling a sense of uncertainty right now with the manager leaving and a relative unknown in Arne Slot to come in to replace him. And, moreover, there will be a new transfer team in charge in the shape of Richard Hughes and David Woodfine too.

And the harsh truth is that it looks like some of these current first-team stars could be approaching the end of the line. A shakeup is probably due at the end of the Klopp era in order to get the new regime underway.

Maybe Mohamed Salah will be sacrificed, the club could opt to cut and run on Darwin, the question marks over Ibrahima Konate’s form and fitness might just test the club’s patience once too often, Andy Robertson currently looks a shadow of his former self.

From the players that didn’t feature here, could Ryan Gravenberch be sold? Has Cody Gakpo really been effective enough? Some tough questions will need to be answered. 

Time to cash in on Salah?

Picture this. Your top earner, on £350,000 per week, is on a poor run of form since coming back from a severe hamstring injury and in truth hasn’t looked like himself for a long time. Moreover, he’s about to turn 32 at the end of the season.

He’s out of contract in 12 months’ time and a renewal won’t come cheap. And then you’re offered more than £100 million from a team in remote Saudi Arabia to take him off your hands and, potentially, to solve a problem before it begins.

Should Liverpool sell Mohamed Salah in summer if Al-Ittihad come back with their record-breaking bid?

The alternative is keep paying him with no guarantees that his form will come back and then lose him for free next summer anyway.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Instead, you cash in and get back every penny you paid for him in the first place, all the salary he’s earned since joining and maybe even a bit more for the kitty.

Over to you, Richard Hughes. 

Everything turns to nothing

It was only a few weeks ago, when Manchester City drew with Arsenal on the same day Liverpool beat Brighton, that Pep Guardiola was describing Liverpool as title favourites. And it looked like a real shout.

The Reds had just been eliminated from the FA Cup by Manchester United but they were nonetheless still in the running for a treble - in the shape of the Carabao Cup, the Europa League and the Premier League.

What on earth has happened to Liverpool?

On April 7 there was the 2-2 draw with Manchester United, surrendering a position of dominance. Then came a battering against Atalanta, all but eliminating the Reds from the Europa League after the first leg of the quarter final. Then they lost - again - to Crystal Palace.

While the Merseysiders rallied to beat Fulham on Sunday, this derby defeat is a fatal blow to their title bid and to their season.

From everything to nothing in two weeks.

When it’s all said and done at the end of the season proper, this fortnight from hell is going to have to be analysed in the cold light of day. 

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