Xherdan Shaqiri

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Bargain buys: Relegated players for Premier League clubs to target

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This season, it was Ben Foster arriving at Watford from West Brom and Xherdan Shaqiri switching from Stoke City to Liverpool.

Before that, it was Harry Maguire from Hull City to Leicester, and Jordan Pickford from Sunderland to Everton. Idrissa Gana Gueye from Aston Villa to Everton before that.

[ MORE: Terriers release Williams, Lossl ]

Yes nearly every year, at least one player from a relegated squad becomes a difference maker of some repute on a safe Premier League side.

So who will it be this year? Here are some candidates, though several may look to help their clubs rebound back to the top flight.

Neil Etheridge, GK, Cardiff City — The PL’s first Filipino player nearly kept the goal-starved Bluebirds in the top flight, somewhat similar to Lukasz Fabianski‘s work at Swans before moving to West Ham. Is there a spot for him somewhere in the top tier?

Philip Billing, CM, Huddersfield Town — The Swiss defensive midfielder averaged 2.7 tackles and two interceptions per game for the Terriers, and is just 22 years old.

Victor Camarasa, MF, Cardiff City — Five goals and four assists for a side that couldn’t find the back of the net shouldn’t be scoff material. At just 24, someone should take a look.

Aaron Mooy, CM, Huddersfield Town — Capable of unleashing a rocket, the former Man City pupil wasn’t as good in year two at the John Smith’s Stadium. Most weren’t.

Callum Paterson, DF, Cardiff City —  Also just 24, the versatile Scot can deputize at defense, midfield, and occasionally forward for his new side.

Ryan Babel, FW, Fulham — The winger may be 32, but did he ever look quite this good on his first run through the Premier League. Five goals and three assists in 16 appearances following a mid-season transfer.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, MF, Fulham — He’s a bit of a card accumulator, but Fulham was better with him than without him. The 23-year-old was also outstanding at Marseille in the Ligue 1 club’s run to last season’s Europa League Final.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, FW, Fulham — He’s now scored and angered defenses on two offense-hungry clubs, and rang up 11 goals while nabbing an almost silly 6.5 aerial wins per match. He’s still only 24.

Liverpool complete epic comeback v. Barcelona, reach UCL final (video)

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Jurgen Klopp wanted Tuesday evening to be a celebration for Liverpool. He certainly got that, and then some.

Against all odds, Liverpool completed an incredible comeback, defeating La Liga champions Barcelona 4-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate to advance to the UEFA Champions League final, with fringe players making absolutely key contributions. Divock Origi, a backup for most of the season, scored a brace, including the game-winner, and Georginio Wijnaldum, who came on at halftime, scored twice in two minutes to put Liverpool level on aggregate.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Barcelona had no answer for Liverpool’s energy and the Anfield atmosphere, which was electric all night. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and co. all had their chances, but Liverpool goalkeeper Allison made five saves and came up huge in the first half. Liverpool today was more clinical than Barcelona, and in the end, even a reserve-laden side was clearly better on the night than the Spanish giants.

For Liverpool, it’s back to back appearances in the UEFA Champions League final, where they’ll meet either Tottenham or Ajax. Should Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino be fit for that June 1 date in Madrid, the Reds will certainly be favorites.

It took just six minutes for Liverpool to find the game’s first goal. With Sadio Mane running in on goal, he played Jordan Henderson into the box. Henderson’s shot was saved by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen but it was parried right into the path of Origi, who made no mistake from six yards out.

With the lead and the wind at its back, Liverpool pushed forward looking for more, leaving plenty of space in behind for Barcelona to exploit. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba all had chances on goal but time and time again in the first half, Alisson came up huge. Like Liverpool in the first leg, Barcelona on the road couldn’t find its finishing touch.

In the second half yet again, it took less than 10 minutes for Liverpool to score again. After Trent Alexander-Arnold misplaced a pass, he won the ball back from Alba and dribbled down the right wing. Alexander-Arnold’s cross took a slight deflection and ended at the feet of Wijnaldum, who had only been introduced to the field at halftime.

Like a lightning bolt, Wijnaldum raced onto the ball and fired a strike at goal, one that ter Stegen got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

Two minutes later, with Liverpool pushing Barcelona to its limits, Wijnaldum tied the score on aggregate. Xherdan Shaqiri, who hasn’t seen much of the field until recently this season, whipped in a glorious cross into the box. Wijnaldum, in the 66th minute, was the only one to rise, met the ball at his apex and headed it into the top corner to send the Anfield crowd into hysterics.

Klopp’s side weren’t finished though. In the 79th minute, Alexander-Arnold looked to be leaving the ball for a teammate to take a corner kick. However, he noticed that Barcelona had lost its focus and ran back to the ball and fired a low cross into Origi. The Belgian met it and first-timed a strike into the side netting to amazingly put Liverpool in the lead.

Over the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time, the Reds held on and secured a most famous win at Anfield, and a ticket to Madrid for the Champions League Final.

Wijnaldum brace puts Liverpool level v. Barcelona (video)

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp‘s halftime gamble looks like it’s paid off handsomely.

Klopp inserted Georginio Wijnaldum into the match for Andrew Robertson, and the Netherlands international scored a brace in two minutes to tie the aggregate score at 3-3, with all the momentum on Liverpool’s side.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

In the first goal, Trent Alexander-Arnold stole back a ball, dribbled forward down the right wing before sending in a cross into the box. It trook a slight deflection and ended up at the oncoming Wijnaldum’s feet before he fired home. Wijnaldum’s shot deflected off the hand of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and in.

Two minutes later Xherdan Shaqiri, back in the starting lineup, delivered an outstanding cross into the box. Wijnaldum rose first and headed home past the on-looking ter Stegen to the absolute delight of the Anfield crowd.

Watch the goals below:

Salah, Firmino ruled out due to injury

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Liverpool’s task against Barcelona just got even tougher.

Trailing 3-0 from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal at the Nou Camp, Jurgen Klopp will now be without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the second leg at Anfield on Tuesday.

Salah suffered a heavy blow to the head which led to a concussion in the 3-2 win at Newcastle on Saturday, while Firmino suffered a reaction to a recent groin/thigh injury after coming on late against Barca last week.

“Two of the world’s best strikers are not available tomorrow night and we have to score four goals,” said Klopp. “It doesn’t make life easier but as long as we will try for 90 minutes to celebrate the Champions League campaign to give it a proper finish. That’s the plan. If we can do it, wonderful. If we can’t do it, let’s fail in the most beautiful way.”

Overhauling a 3-0 deficit is a long shot, especially without two key strikers, as Sadio Mane is set to be joined up top by two from Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge or Xherdan Shaqiri. Origi, Shaqiri and Sturridge have all had their moments this season, but replacing Salah and Firmino is almost impossible.

The big question remains if either Salah or Firmino will be fit for the final day of the season on Sunday, as Liverpool host Wolves knowing a win could seal their first league title in 29 years.

Klopp revealed Salah could be fit for the season finale, as his concussion could be over in the next few days, but there is no chance he will be risked to play against Barcelona.

“It’s not good enough from a medical point of view,” Klopp said about Salah. “He is desperate to play but we cannot do it. It’s a concussion. That means he would not even be allowed to play.”

Liverpool survive Newcastle scare to take PL title race to final day

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  • Liverpool back in front in PL title race
  • Van Dijk’s header opened the scoring (13′)
  • Atsu leveled it 7 minutes later | Salah for 2-1 (28′)
  • Rondon levels it again (54′) | Origi wins it late (86′)

Liverpool guaranteed the Premier League title race will go down to the final day of the season with a 3-2 victory over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday. As the final score suggests, it was anything but easy or straightforward for Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds.

Whether or not Manchester City beat Leicester City in their penultimate league fixture on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) will determine who takes the pole position into next Sunday’s simultaneous finales.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The opening 45 minutes of between the Reds and Magpies were frantic and goal-filled.

Virgil Van Dijk opened the scoring with one of the easiest headed goals that any player will ever score (WATCH HERE), but Liverpool’s lead lasted just seven minutes before Christian Atsu drew the home side level. Trent Alexander-Arnold will actually have been thankful that Atsu scored his chance, because the Liverpool defender would have otherwise been sent off for the clearest of handballs to block a goal-bound shot. Had the rebound not fallen to Atsu, and perhaps had he missed with his follow-up shot, Liverpool would have played a man down for 70 minutes.

Mohamed Salah restored Liverpool’s lead just eight minutes later with a deftly placed finish from a really difficult position. The ball came in from Alexander-Arnold on the right, but was too high for Salah to strike it with power and too low to head it. Instead, he re-positioned himself ever so slightly and leaned back just as the ball arrived, expertly re-directing it inside the far post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The twists and turns weren’t finished, though — far from it, in fact.

Newcastle drew level again in the 54th minute, thanks to Salomon Rondo’s instinctual strike off the assist of another former Red, Javier Manquillo. It should have been little more than a half-chance, but the Venezuelan struck the ball ever so cleanly from near the penalty spot and Alisson could do nothing about it.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Salah was stretchered off the field in the 73rd minute after taking a powerful blow to the head from Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (WATCH HERE).

Without last season’s PL Player of the Year, Liverpool struggled to create even a handful of chances from open play. Fortunately for Klopp, his side excels on set pieces. Divock Origi rose highest and got his head to Xherdan Shaqiri‘s free kick in the 86th minute.

Liverpool (94 points) will finish their title challenge when Wolverhampton Wanderers visit Anfield next Sunday. Man City (92, with a game still in hand), meanwhile, will be away to Brighton & Hove Albion.