Mohamed Salah has not given Jurgen Klopp sufficient reason to sit down for “a proper talk” about his Liverpool future, the Reds boss insists.
Egypt forward Salah has been a key figure at Anfield since joining from Roma in June 2017, winning the Champions League and Premier League under the guidance of manager Klopp.
This season has seen speculation that Salah may not be as happy with Liverpool as they are with him, amid rumours he could consider leaving the club.
When Klopp substituted Salah 62 minutes into Thursday’s league clash with Chelsea, body language suggested was far from happy with no longer being out on the pitch.
Liverpool, who were 1-0 down at the time of the change, could not find an equaliser and slid to a fifth successive home defeat in the Premier League, a result that damages their prospects of Champions League involvement next season. On Sunday they face Fulham, again at Anfield.
Asked how he would stave off any problem with Salah, Klopp said: “Talking, that’s how it always is. I’m not even sure if this situation is now the reason for a proper talk about it.
“Because there were different things. We are 1-0 down, that makes no player happy, you go off and you cannot react how you react in different ways because you are not happy about the game.
“You are a striker and you think you should stay on the pitch, that’s completely clear and not an issue. It’s just normal life. These things are not our problem.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 5, 2021
Salah has had 16 shots of which seven have been on target across his last seven appearances, having had 26 attempts and 13 on target in the seven previous games,
That suggests form reflective of Liverpool’s overall decline since the turn of the year.
They have lost eight matches in 2021 already; however, Klopp says he has no issues with Salah’s productivity this season, describing his goalscoring as “absolutely outstanding”.
And there he has a strong point, with Salah already bagging 24 goals in 37 games during this campaign, compared to 23 in 48 last term.
He is set to finish well short of the 44 in 52 games he achieved in 2017-18, his first season with the Reds, but so far this campaign he is matching his ‘big chance’ conversion rate from that season.
Salah took 28 of his 56 big chances in 2017-18 and has put away 16 of 32 this season, for 50 per cent hit rates in each campaign.
He is creating fewer chances this season, however, down from an average of 1.8 last term and a debut-season high of 2.12 to a more modest 1.48 per game.
Klopp suggested giving Salah a rest on Thursday could benefit Liverpool in games to come, as he repudiated any suggestion of unrest in their relationship.
“I could have changed other players as well, that’s true,” Klopp said.
“It was more about who we bring on. He looked for me like he felt intensity. He probably saw it completely different. That’s absolutely fine.
“Half an hour without Mo Salah, maybe that’s the reason why he can play on Sunday as well. We make these decisions in the moment, and not with any thoughts in behind.
“The problem is you have to explain it after the game. These kind of stories, so far they didn’t happen. I cannot guarantee for the future for all time that it will never happen, but these kind of discussions, we never had.
“I make a decision, the boys accept it. We came together to the top and we came together to the point here, and we will sort it together.
“I cannot not change a player just because it creates a story afterwards. You do it because you think in the moment it’s right and you are allowed to judge it afterwards if it was right.”