Liverpool hail Salah’s brilliance; injury update

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Mohamed Salah has scored 17 goals in the Premier League for Liverpool this season and 23 in all competitions in just 29 game since arriving from Roma for $43 million in the summer.

He’s the signing of the season, by far, but if we’re being picky, he probably should have 30 goals, at least, this season.

The Egyptian winger scored twice in Liverpool’s comeback 2-1 win against Leicester City on Saturday at Anfield but could have had five after he missed two gilt-edged chances in the first half and another in the second half.

Salah missed a few good chances against Arsenal in the recent 3-3 draw too, but you can hardly fault his quality on the ball, his pace, the runs he makes and both of his goals against Leicester were taken with supreme composure.

The one worry for Liverpool is that he limped off in the 83rd minute of the game, with his manager Jurgen Klopp telling the media he could be struggling for the game at Burnley on Jan. 1.

“I don’t know in this moment exactly [what it is], but he was limping. That’s never a good sign, to be honest,” Klopp said. We have to see what his problem was. We will see what he can do for the next game.”

Klopp praised Liverpool’s comeback win as “pretty much perfect” and their reaction was the best he’s ever seen in that situation, but he was full of praise for Salah.

“Mo was fantastic with his dribbling and his vision. I couldn’t ask more from him,” Klopp said. “Staying in the game is the real deal of football in this league but I am happy for Mo, I am happy for the team because this group is a fantastic group of players. It’s a good team performance and a well deserved win.”

Klopp continued: “He is still a young player, he can improve. It’s not about scoring only, it’s about other situations as well. He’s so important for us. But he knows and I know that he couldn’t score if he didn’t have the fantastic support of all the other boys. We played fantastic passes. Sadio’s idea in the moment before Mo scored the first goal – I don’t think a lot of people in the stadium saw that it would be an opportunity. That was really important.”

Speaking after the game Salah’s teammate James Milner said the following about the Egyptian’s display.

“He keeps scoring and I’m running out of words to describe him. It’s important that we keep supporting him but not put too much pressure on him,” Milner said.

Salah is surpassing everyone’s expectations at Anfield and is Liverpool’s leading goalscorer and seemingly in a two-way battle with Kevin De Bruyne to be crowned the Premier League Player of the Season. He has surpassed Sadio Mane as Liverpool’s main attacking talent, while Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho continue to deliver chances on a plate for Salah.

The former Chelsea and Roma winger is simply sublime and a joy to watch, yet his incredible goalscoring form this season could be even better.

That’s scary to think about.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.