The Premier League title is well and truly out of reach for Jurgen Klopp and his men, but many of the Reds will already have one eye on this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
Although a place in the Champions League is still far from assured for 2018/19, many players will naturally be thinking about putting in performances that not only benefit the Reds, but also their own chances of getting on the plane to Russia 2018.
This article shines a spotlight on a quartet of Reds stars who could play key roles on their respective national squads at the 2018 World Cup.
In the Champions League against Porto, a stunning cameo display from playmaker Adam Lallana has given him a great chance to feature heavily on the England side.
In his first full 90 minutes since last May, Lallana’s industry and flair came to the fore, and he’ll almost certainly be an important cog in the front three of Gareth Southgate’s England system. England’s 14/1 World Cup odds reflect the squad’s overall lack of experience and naivety, but the young blood could provide an impetus that’s been missing in previous tournaments.
After an incredible two-year spell with Italian giants Roma (and having scored 29 goals in 65 competitive appearances), Egyptian forward Mo Salah has slotted in brilliantly at Anfield.
He’s averaging almost a goal per game in his inaugural season with the Reds, and the 2017 CAF African Footballer of the Year will be very busy this summer on international duty with Egypt.
The Egyptians are preparing for their third World Cup finals, with their last qualification for the finals having occurred back in 1990. Salah has certainly found his shooting boots in the last 18 months and could be the difference in a tight group, which includes Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, and the host nation, Russia.
Since Sadio Mane’s £34m switch from Southampton, the 25-year-old wide man has more than lived up to his tag as the most expensive African player of all time.
Mane has already matched the number of goals he scored with the Saints at Liverpool, but in 18 fewer games.
He’s certainly thriving in Jurgen Klopp’s ultra-attacking setup. For one so young, Mane already has almost 50 international caps to his name and will strangely be an experienced head for others to depend on.
Senegal are in another highly-competitive group (with Poland, Japan and Colombia), which gives them a great chance of reaching the knock-out stages.
It’s possible that twenty-four-year-old German midfield powerhouse Emre Can will have already left the club by the time he flies out to Russia with the German national side.
It’s no secret that the former Bayer Leverkusen schemer is out of contract with the Reds this summer, with the club refusing to agree to Can’s reported demands for a release clause in any new deal.
Nevertheless, Can could play a key role as the midfield anchor for Germany, having performed with such distinction at last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup. Can’s excellent passing range, combined with his drive and stamina, will make him an important figure in a lengthy tournament.
There could be other Reds heroes who end up making names for themselves. Belgian stopper Simon Mignolet could figure for Roberto Martinez’ side, depending on the fitness of Thibaut Courtois.
Meanwhile, the likes of Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also be vying for a place in the England midfield.
Whether either is capable of really stealing the limelight remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure: the summer will be much more palatable with the World Cup to watch.