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SLIDING DOORS

How Liverpool’s entire season was shaped by a German rejection

Julian Brandt turned down the opportunity to join the Reds last summer... paving the way for them to sign someone else

Remember when Robert Lewandowski came a mere Icelandic ash cloud away from signing for Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn in 2010?

A true case of ‘what if’.


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Allardyce x Lewandowski? Name a more iconic duo…

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Allardyce x Lewandowski? Name a more iconic duo…

But last summer Liverpool encountered an even more groundbreaking sliding doors moment that entirely changed the course of their season.

The Reds’ recruiting department set about adding a quick, direct winger to their attacking unit to complement Sadio Mane after his impressive debut campaign.

Michael Edwards, the club’s sporting director, drew up a list of names headed by Bayer Leverkusen and Germany hotshot Julian Brandt.

Brandt new signing?

EPA
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Brandt new signing?

Jurgen Klopp was a keen admirer of his compatriot and the wheels were set in motion for a £25m deal.

But Brandt rejected Liverpool’s approach, citing a lack of guaranteed game time as his main reason for staying at Leverkusen.

Very few players have the cajones to reject Klopp

PA:Press Association
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Very few players have the cajones to reject Klopp

Now in normal circumstances a club missing out on their prime attacking target would be a dagger to their hearts.

But, like any well run scouting department, they moved onto the next in line.

And, in a weird twist of fate, Brandt’s cold shoulder was arguably the best thing to happen to Liverpool for years.

Mo Salah scored four and set up one to thump Watford

Reuters
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Egyptian King

Because the player below Brandt on their wishlist was indeed Mohamed Salah.

The Reds thrashed out a club-record deal worth £36m with Roma to bring the Egyptian to Anfield well ahead of the start of the season.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Salah arrived in England with a point to prove. Eyebrows were raised.

Mo Salah scored four goals against Watford on the weekend

Reuters
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The Cha-Cha Slide

But he has emphatically extinguished any doubters with some truly sparking performances.

The Reds’ Egyptian King has risen to deified status for both club and country and has helped establish the most formidable attacking trio in the Premier League.

28 league goals. Count them. Twenty eight.

Brandt spanking

EPA
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Brandt spanking

In stark contrast, Brandt has managed just six in a season where he has struggled to replicate the form he displayed the campaign before.

A missed chance became a masterstroke.


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