With an intense month of Premier League action nearly over, it’s perhaps the moment to avoid any mad decisions, but then Liverpool’s game gets postponed. Combine that with iffy form, an upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament and you get the looming question, what do you do with Salah?
Much like every other FPL manager, or football fan, on this planet, the news about Liverpool’s Boxing day game being postponed has probably hit you hard. Especially if you own not just Diogo Jota but also Trent Alexander-Arnold and his lord, highness and prince Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has been the gift that has just kept giving this season with a phenomenal 170 points. That’s 15 goals, 10 assists, 10 clean sheets, and a rocking 20 bonus points.
As a captain option, Salah has been the greatest thing this world has ever seen with him blanking just twice all season. The problem with that is the fact that his last game against Tottenham, aka Liverpool’s previous game, was blank and on top of that the Reds are set to miss Gameweek 19. Combine that with the fact that Salah will miss out on Gameweek 22 and 23 because of AFCON, and faces Chelsea in Gameweek 21, it makes for a few worried FPL bosses.
Option 1: Do absolutely nothing and ride your luck
But you really shouldn’t do anything especially if you want to keep the luck rolling. The Egyptian will miss just three games, for now, and we have absolutely no clue what will happen in Gameweek 21. It does mean that selling him may not be the best option as buying him back might hurt you more in the long-run.
Plus this is Mohamed Salah. The man is on the verge of breaking his own PL record, his own FPL record and may even crack Thierry Henry and Kevin De Bruyne’s assist record. That’s the season he has been having until now and losing out on that or buying him back when he becomes even more expensive just sounds troublesome. And all this for just five games of football but if needs must, then you've got..
Option 2: Use your free-hit, make Boxing-day changes and leave the rest for tomorrow
It’s the option that makes the most sense at the moment especially when you consider what may or may not happen in two- or three-days’ time. That combined with the free free-hit gift that the FPL gods have provided us with, which activates after Gameweek 20, makes for an interesting utility tool for those who haven’t used their free-hits yet. For those who have, well this doesn’t apply for you.
Essentially, what the free-hit does is allow you to swap out your entire team for a whole new group of players before reverting back to the original squad at the end of the gameweek. This would allow one to effectively replace the three Liverpool players, Jose Sa and Emmanuel Dennis from their squads and replace them with players who might actually play on Boxing Day.
It’s a big if, given the situation that Premier League clubs lie in but still, it’s better than nothing at this point of time. Plus if more games do get postponed, then you’ll have unlimited transfers to make replacements and bring in reinforcements, which is always an added bonus. And as for the rest? That's tomorrow's problem.
Option 3: Swap him out with another consistent premium option
But this is Mohamed Salah, scorer of ten thousand goals this season and about a gazillion points more and thus we need replacements. Because being without a consistent points getter for one game is hell, doing it for five is just….well, it’s not good for anyone. Especially when the options are as iffy and inconsistent and not Salah as this. Yet thanks to Manchester United’s ego we’ve got big-man Cristiano Ronaldo available to us and the forward has been in rather nice form.
Not great by any means, with 67 points to his name, but three goals in his last three games and the fact that he happens to be on penalties for the Red Devils only adds to his mystique. He is a £12.5m forward though which means you will be forced into making two transfers and not one. For those looking for a direct swap, look no further then Tottenham’s superstar Heung-Min Son.
The North London club shocked us all with their show against Liverpool and something tells moi that it might just continue with Son playing a starring role. The South Korean was lovely to watch and missed a few guilt-edge opportunities but still managed to find the net. That plus his £10.4m price-tag, the fact that Son’s scored three and assisted one more in his last three and that Tottenham seem to be finding a groove is a lovely bonus.
Manchester City man Raheem Sterling is another one but as we all know, Pep Guardiola loves rotation and won’t hesitate shifting his players all over the place. Yet Sterling has still managed to score three in his last three with four in his last six which is a good indication. But buying the £10.6m man would mean signing another midfielder – City or otherwise – just in case he doesn’t play.
Option 4: Panic and then go budget
Going budget is very very risky especially when you’re replacing someone as consistent as Mohamed Salah but we’ve been slightly lucky this season. The likes of Emmanuel Dennis (£6.0m), Diogo Jota (£8.1m), Martin Odegaard (£5.6m) and a few others have all been cheap-ish players who have done rather well. But with Dennis also set to miss Gameweek 22 and 23 thanks to the AFCON, the options dwindle a little.
Arsenal’s Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli (£5.4m) have found some rhythm recently, and thus could be options worth keeping an eye out for although Diogo Jota is likely your best choice. That’s for those who haven’t signed him and with just 27.4% ownership, there are a few out there. Leicester City duo Harvey Barnes (£6.5) and James Maddison (£7.8m) are also on that alongside Chelsea’s Mason Mount (£7.7m) but none of the three players have been even remotely consistent.
That leaves just Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m) and Conor Gallagher (£6.1m), but once again both men have been in and out of the form charts. Leeds forward Raphinha (£6.6m) is definitely an option but if the rumours are true, then he’s leaving for Bayern Munich the moment the January transfer window opens. The luck, huh? But even if you do go budget, the fact that all the options are around half Salah's price, it leaves enough room to buy two players or buy an upgrade, which is just a lovely little Christmas present.