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Saka urged to ‘cheat’ for England like Messi & Salah as Lallana draws up World Cup quarter-final plan

17:10 EAT 09/12/2022
Lionel Messi Bukayo Saka Mohamed Salah
Bukayo Saka has been urged to take inspiration from Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah by indulging in a positive form of cheating for England.
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WHAT HAPPENED? That advice has been offered out by former Three Lions star Adam Lallana, who crosses swords with Arsenal ace Saka on a regular basis in the Premier League. The former Liverpool midfielder, who is now at Brighton, believes the highly-rated 21-year-old forward can mimic the efforts of global superstars by occasionally deserting his defensive duties in favour of staying high up the pitch and offering an out ball for counterattacks.

WHAT THEY SAID: Lallana has said in The Times: “Messi is fresher than anyone else and capable of weaving his magic. He may walk the most, but he is also taking in the most information. He could well be the cleverest player who has ever played the game. The implication tends to be that he is cutting corners with his team, whether that is Argentina or at club level with Paris Saint-Germain. You often hear people say, ‘This player cheats out of possession. He doesn’t defend properly’. Believe me, at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp would want Mohamed Salah to ‘cheat’, when it came to the defensive side of their game.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Lallana, who has 34 England caps to his name and formed part of their squad at the 2014 World Cup, added on the tactical approach Gareth Southgate should take in a quarter-final clash with France at Qatar 2022: “When it comes to assessing Bukayo Saka’s role against France, there will be times when Gareth Southgate will want him to ‘cheat’. There has been so much focus on how to stop Kylian Mbappe, but England do not want Saka doubling up with right-back Kyle Walker every time the French attacker gets the ball. If he does that, then Saka is going to be too deep and he is not going to be as effective on counter-attacks, which is one of his great strengths.”

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WHAT NEXT? England are due to line up against France on Saturday, with Southgate having to come up with a plan that will allow the Three Lions to both contain the threat posed by Mbappe and co. while providing plenty of attacking intent of their own.