Pep Guardiola is ready to unleash his secret weapon on Mohamed Salah as he bids to contain the Liverpool talisman during Wednesday's Champions League showdown.
The Irish Times has reported that the Spaniard will use January arrival Aymeric Laporte in an unorthodox left-back role with the simple aim of preventing the forward from influencing the game at Anfield in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final between the duo.
Laporte was deployed in that position against Everton on Saturday evening and did a sound job of keeping Theo Walcott quiet at Goodison Park, and Guardiola will hope that he can have a similar effect on Salah across Stanley Park.
Salah is seen as Liverpool's best hope of bagging a goal or two against the Premier League leaders tonight thanks to the Egyptian's remarkable goalscoring feats since his £40m move from Roma this summer.
And Guardiola feels that, by preventing the ex-Chelsea and Basel star from getting a sight at goal, his side stand a much better chance of taking a lead into the return leg at the Etihad in a week's time.
Fabian Delph had been deployed at left-back in Benjamin Mendy's absence with a knee injury, but Laporte's performance against Everton last weekend has given Guardiola food for thought despite Delph being available for selection after his own injury troubles.
Spanish newspaper Sport's predicted teams for #LIVMCI:— BetVictor (@BetVictor) April 4, 2018
- 37-goal Mo Salah at centre mid
- Aymeric Laporte at left-back AND on the bench
- David Silva on the right wing
- Sane playing as a striker
- Vincent 'Company' at cente-back
Someone's getting sacked in the morning 🙈 pic.twitter.com/mJdiLBQyPw
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Meanwhile, a report from the Daily Express has also gone on record to claim that Guardiola missed a trick by not trying to sign Salah from I Giallorossi last summer.
The ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had been chasing the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Riyad Mahrez for the past two windows, and never even considered moving for the 25-year-old.
Salah has been linked with a big-money move to Real Madrid thanks to his haul of 37 goals in just 41 appearances for the Reds this term, and has proven Guardiola wrong after he reportedly decided against trying to sign Salah due to concerns about his lack of prowess in front of goal before his Liverpool switch.