Mohamed Salah has tested positive for the coronavirus, plunging Premier League champions Liverpool further into a personnel crisis during a crucial period of the campaign.
It was revealed on Friday that Salah gave a positive test despite not showing symptoms and that means the 28-year-old is set to be sidelined for the top-of-the-table clash against Leicester City which is scheduled to take place at Anfield on Saturday November 21.
UK government guidelines state If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus, you’ll usually need to self-isolate for at least ten days.
The Egyptian superstar has been integral to Liverpool’s rise to domestic and world success under Jurgen Klopp, hitting tallies of 32, 22 and 19 in three full Premier League seasons as well as notching eight in eight top-flight games this term.
Salah’s positive test comes at the worst possible time for Liverpool, who will miss crack centre-back Virgil van Dijk for possibly the rest of the season and his defensive partner Joe Gomez suffered a serious knee injury on England duty earlier this week.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was crocked in the recent 1-1 draw against Manchester City and faces around a month on the sidelines and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains a long-term injury victim. There are also doubts over Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara, while samba star Roberto Firmino is currently away with Brazil for South American World Cup qualifying, so could be jaded ahead of the Leicester match.
Liverpool to miss Salah against Leicester?
It leaves the Reds in a vulnerable position as they aim to improve on their current third spot on 17 points with a record of five wins, two draws and one defeat – a remarkable one at that – when the champions were destroyed 7-2 by Aston Villa.
Next up for Klopp’s outfit is the mouthwatering prospect of hosting table-toppers Leicester. The Foxes are one point clear in the hunt for the title and their classy counter-attacking ways have already earned them maximum points on trips to Manchester City and Arsenal this season.
They will fancy it even more against Liverpool now that Salah looks set to be sidelined with Leicester looking to repeat their 2016 title heroics when they stunned the watching world to land the biggest upset in English football history at odds of 5,000-1.
Who could replace Salah?
Good news is thin on the ground for Liverpool supporters at the moment, yet there may well be reason for some cheer with the summer signing of Diogo Jota a potential readymade replacement in the wide offensive positions.
The pacy Portuguese international has scored five times in his last five Liverpool matches and would provide a lively outlet on one flank with Sadio Mane on the opposite wing and central striker Firmino pulling the strings at the heart of the attack.
Liverpool have a solid record when Salah has dodged top-flight matches.
Last season he failed to start on five occasions with Liverpool winning three of those (3-1 at Newcastle, 5-2 at home to Everton and 2-1 at Crystal Palace) as well as two road draws in difficult fixtures at Manchester United (1-1) and Everton (0-0).
Liverpool also recorded their 2019 heroic comeback from 3-0 down against Barcelona to win 4-3 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-finals without Salah, before the former Roma and Chelsea man scored first from the penalty spot in the final triumph over Tottenham in Madrid.
Reserve forward Divock Origi notched twice on that memorable night against Barcelona and then doubled Liverpool’s advantage over Spurs and highlights the fact their back-up men have often delivered when the top talent has been absent.
The positive coronavirus test will, however, damage Salah’s hopes of winning the Premier League Golden Boot. He is currently in a four-way tie with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Son Heung-Min and Jamie Vardy on eight goals.