Liverpool deliver perfect combination in Milan to offer glimpse of bright future

There are overriding themes accompanying the ease in which Liverpool-lite rolled over AC Milan on their own turf, with nothing significant to play for while the hosts were in Champions League all-or-nothing territory.

The financial disparity within the game that has concentrated riches in England, catapulting its premier teams to continental dominance, is the standout and has been dissected in depth on these pages.

For Jurgen Klopp’s side specifically though, the storylines were shaped by what – or who – could soon become Liverpool’s past, aligned with the strength of their present and promise of the future.

Nat Philipps and Divock Origi’s lifespan at the club may not have much longer to run so it is fitting they used the San Siro stage to showcase their gifts, while also drawing attention to their contributions at large.

Liverpool’s very presence in this season’s European Cup is owed in great part to the centre-back. They do not become the first English team to post a 100 per cent record in the Champions League group stage without his aerial command and stability that helped the club navigate a critical injury situation to qualify for the competition.

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Mohamed Salah celebrates at the San Siro

They would not be circling around a seventh trophy on this grand stand had Origi not done the improbable en route to number six.

Against Milan, Philipps accessorised an authoritative performance with a Cruyff turn in his own box to send Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Kessie to the shop for a Gazzetta.

Origi’s header extinguished any Milan hopes of a Hail Mary, but it was also his first Champions League goal for Liverpool that didn’t come in the semi-finals or climax of the tournament: a sweet memo of his marriage to delivering big moments when they matter most.

Straddling the line between past, present, and future is football’s current MVP: Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has ratcheted up pressure on the club to propose new contract terms worth his phenomenal consistency and best-in-the-world status via recent interviews.

Divock Origi celebrates scoring at the San Siro

While drafting such a mega deal is complex, especially when factoring in specific requests around image rights, considering wage structure and the like, the equation is simple for Liverpool: how much would it cost to replace the numbers, surety, fear factor and availability of Salah?

Can that even be located in a sole player?

The Merseysiders have a healthy reputation of recruiting well and will back themselves in the market. Circumstances have shifted from their best work though: squad building to try and compete with powerhouses versus when you are one of the standout teams on the continent are contrasting challenges.

Liverpool can certainly find the ‘next Salah’ and the ‘next Mane,’ but the original versions walked into an entirely different scenario, level and expectations.

At the opposite end of the pitch, the recruitment of Ibrahima Konate paints a pretty long-term future. Ibrahimovic departed the pitch with his shirt on Tuesday night, which is the only joy he managed to extract from the defender.

The promise of potential is overflowing at present. Teenager Tyler Morton treated Milan’s cathedral like his backyard. “I don’t want to make his life more complicated than it is already with playing at such a young age for a club like Liverpool in a game like this with a performance like this, so I think we should all calm down – but it was really good,” Klopp said.

Tyler Morton makes a pass whilst under pressure from Sandro Tonali

“And it was a big pleasure to watch the boy playing and the football knowledge, the football brain he showed was absolutely exceptional. If you are technically on that level – and he is, obviously – and you have then such good orientation then sometimes you have enough time for doing good stuff. That was what he did. On top of that, he defended incredibly well.”

Six of Liverpool’s squad at Milan have been with the club since pre-academy phase: Morton, Neco Williams, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harvey Davies, Max Woltman and James Norris.

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Conor Bradley, 18, made history as the first Northern Ireland player ever to represent the club in European football.

Liverpool’s custom of rewriting records has stretched far and wide under Klopp. That shows no sign of abating given the strength of what they have and what they have to look forward to.

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