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Move over Salah-Mane-Firmino! Frankfurt's forward trio more potent than Liverpool trident

09:00 GMT 06/02/2019
Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Luka Jovic Sebastien Haller Split
The Reds frontline has a combined total of 57 goals and assists this season, but have been outscored-and-assisted by another impressive front three

Mohamed Salah waited at the penalty spot. He had just been knocked to the ground by Sokratis Papastathopoulos to win a penalty for Liverpool against Arsenal. But rather than stroke home his 14th goal of the season to take the lead in the Premier League top scorer chart, the Egyptian forward handed the ball to team-mate Roberto Firmino, who bagged his hat-trick.

In the month since, Salah has added another three goals, Sadio Mane three and Firmino two as Liverpool's attack continue to be one of the most potent in Europe, finishing each other's chances to help the Reds close in on their first ever Premier League title.

The trident have the perfect chemistry, creating goals for each other, with each happy to unselfishly lay the ball off to one of the other two rather than take all the glory for themselves. Salah is the Premier League's top scorer with 16 goals, with Mane sixth and Firmino just one goal off the top 10, with 42 of Liverpool's 56 goals scored by one of the trio.

Liverpool's triple threat have played a total of 96 games between them to get to this figure. They have just two more goals than Eintracht Frankfurt's forward line, who have managed their tally in far fewer matches (74). In total, Liverpool's players have combined for 42 goals and 15 assists, less than Frankfurt's 58 goal contributions (40 goals and 18 assists). Like Salah, Luka Jovic currently holds the lead in the top scorer race in his league, with 14 goals in 18 Bundesliga games this season .

One of Frankfurt's forwards is also challenging to be the top assister, with Sebastien Haller just behind Jadon Sancho on eight assists in the Bundesliga. In a total of 28 games across all competitions, the Frenchman has racked up 14 goals and 11 assists - almost as impressive a combined total as Salah's 19 goals and eight assists in 2018-19. Haller has reached his mark in less games, meaning that he is involved in a goal in 89 per cent of games compared to Salah's 82 per cent.

In Jurgen Klopp's system, Firmino is much more than a centre forward. The Brazilian presses defenders, cuts off passing lanes, breaks up play and drops deep to build the attack. Similarly, World Cup finalist Ante Rebic performs more than just a goalscoring role for Adi Hutter's Eintracht Frankfurt. Injury meant the start of his season was delayed, but the Croatian has been excellent at breaking defensive lines, using his pace and skill to unlock the opposition and bring Haller and Jovic into play.

When Frankfurt quickly get the ball forward, there is always an anticipation that it will end up in the net. That happened repeatedly in October when they put seven past Fortuna Dusseldorf, with 21-year-old Jovic becoming the youngest player to score five goals in a single Bundesliga match.

"There are players who need relatively few scoring chances," Hutter told the Bundesliga's official website. "Luka Jovic, for example, scores four times out of every five chances because he's a poacher and, when he's in the box, he knows where the goal is. You always have to be careful with superlatives. But for me he has the potential to become a world-class striker."

Haller is not worried about being labelled "world class." He just wants to score goals and help his team-mates score goals, especially in Europe where Frankfurt won all six games in their Europa League group against Lazio, Marseille and Apollon Limassol.

"I have no interest in being the centre of attention. I do not care if there is a star and who that is. I do not want to be a star," he told the FAZ. "I like my peace away from the place. And when I'm in the field, I want to score goals. Everyone knows that the most important thing is to work well as a team. We have all developed a winning mentality together."

Rebic has been linked with clubs such as Manchester United and Bayern Munich, Jovic has gotten attention from Barcelona, while Haller has had to play down talk of a move to the Premier League.  The 24-year-old is enjoying life in Frankfurt, especially with his attacking team-mates, but he knows he might not last forever.

"The three of us are doing very well in Frankfurt, we and the whole team have a lot of fun together. It's an enjoyable time," he admitted. "Nobody knows what's going to happen in the football business. Luka and Ante have certainly gotten the attention of other clubs. If an offer were so good for them that they had to leave because of it, everyone here would be happy for them."

As of now, the trio remain together. Much to the dismay of Germany and Europe's best defences, they're scoring and assisting at a rate that betters even Liverpool's. They are all younger than Liverpool's trident too. Their best could still be yet to come.