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Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool may hate being right about Arsenal gem as $60m deal ‘prepared’



In 2021, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised a “young and exciting” Arsenal player. Now he is developing into Mohamed Salah’s challenger.

Back in October, ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League trip to Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp lavished praise on a number of Gunners’ star players.

Gabriel Martinelli, whom he dubbed “talent of the century” in 2019, had “become exactly the player he expected” (via BBC Sport). Compatriot Gabriel Jesus, meanwhile, has been “amazing” in a permanent role as number nine since his summer move from Manchester City. Klopp even revealed he had had talks with Martin Ødegaard when the Norwegian was just 15, before joining Real Madrid. And he also continued his Bukayo Saka charm offensive, labeling his performances since breaking into the squad as ‘incredible’.

Just over a year earlier, as Liverpool prepared for another meeting with Arsenal, Klopp had called Saka a ‘young and exciting player’ (via talkSPORT).

His world potential is already being realized, to the extent that Saka will soon be awarded a lucrative new contract that will earn him $240,000 (£200,000 / €227,000) a week – more than $12 million a year – and tie him to his boyhood club until 2028 (via the Daily Mail).

After progress in the negotiations, the Englishman would be ‘close’ to signing the dotted line. Alongside team-mate Ødegaard and record Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, Saka is one of the top three contenders for Mohamed Salah’s PFA Player of the Year crown.

With nine goals and eight assists (the third-highest combined total in the league), he is the only player to even come close to a double-double this season.

No one else who has scored at least nine goals has assisted more than five.

Saka is second overall in assists in the Premier League behind City’s Kevin de Bruyne (12) and sixth in the big five leagues. Only De Bruyne, Neymar (11), Randal Kolo Muani, Lionel Messi (both 10) and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (9) have more. The 21-year-old (yes, he’s only 21) is also in the top four in the division for successful acquisitions this season with 33.

So as a marker, creator, and one-on-one threat, he really is the full package in the right position. He might even become the best in that role.

In this sense, he is both a direct rival and potential heir to Liverpool’s Salah.

There’s no denying he’s been the better of the two so far this season, but the challenge is to do like Salah year after year and push your team to the biggest trophies. Klopp is clearly a huge admirer of Saka and he could have seen him as the perfect successor to the Egyptian, who is now 30 and set to reach the end of his contract in 2025.

Earlier in the season, Liverpool may have been anticipating an opportunity to sign Saka knowing he would enter the final 18 months of his contract at the start of the year. Both Liverpool and Manchester City are reportedly considering a move (via the Daily Mail).

But Arsenal’s dramatic revival, fueled by their academy graduate, buried those hopes.

Now, Saka apparently believes he can win it all at the Emirates and doesn’t need to think about stepping forward. Dedicated to the Gunners for most of a decade, he will be one of the Reds’ most formidable opponents for years to come.