Luis Diaz’s form since his January move to Liverpool has eased the pressure on Mohamed Salah’s contract situation at Anfield, according to Gary Neville.
The Colombian joined the Reds from Porto on January 30, signing a five-and-a-half-year deal for an for an initial £37 million – with the fee potentially rising to £49m.
Diaz has scored three goals and provided one assist in his eight Premier League appearances so far, and impressed in Tuesday night’s 4-0 demolition of Manchester United.
While Salah is close to agreeing a new contract to extend his stay on Merseyside, his current deal expires in June 2023 and he told Sky Sports earlier this month: “I can’t be selfish and talk about my situation. We are in the most important period for the team.”
And speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast, Neville said the decision to go for Diaz in January was further evidence of Liverpool’s smart planning.
He said: “The Carabao Cup final was the first time I had seen the lad live. He is playing off the left-hand side and I look at it from a right-back’s perspective, so I think I’ve got a pretty good eye about what I would have liked and what I wouldn’t have liked. And I thought: ‘Oh my God. What a player he is.’
“His tenacity, his skill, his pace, his fight, his spirit – everything. They have found another one and, again, he has not cost a lot.
“Liverpool acted [to sign him in January] because Spurs were probably going to nip in; they were probably going to wait until the end of the season. Now Liverpool has got five strikers that are genuinely world-class. All five of them are, honestly.
“Roberto Firmino has been one of my favorites for the last five or six years. I know he’s the one that is understated and the one that is underrated at times, but for me, he has contributed unbelievable amounts to the performance levels of the club in terms of how he has dove-tailed.
“I always think of players that I appreciated at United so much that maybe didn’t get the headlines, but were so important to how the team connected and how the team glued together – I think Firmino has done that. He’s still there and he’s performing well at this moment in time.
Mohamed Salah says that now is not the time to be selfish and talk about his contract as he focuses on Liverpool’s Premier League title run-in.
“Diogo Jota has been a sensation from the moment he signed; the other two are world stars: Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. And Diaz looks like a star of the future which, actually, in some ways, takes a little bit of the pressure off the Salah situation, that they have got someone there ready to come in. That’s what great clubs do, they have a conveyor belt.
“What Sir Alex Ferguson did for many years was get the next one ready so that no one was holding the club to ransom. Great clubs don’t just build for three years, they have that next player to come in and that’s what Liverpool are doing here.”