Jurgen Klopp has had no thoughts of axing an off-colour Mo Salah and will hope his big-game experience carries him through Sunday’s top-of-the-table encounter with Manchester City.
The Egypt international has not scored from open play since February 19. And his last couple of performances, at home to Watford and away at Benfica on Tuesday, have been well below the standard expected of the 28-goal forward.
Salah, who has experienced heartbreak at international level by losing the Africa Cup of Nations final and a World Cup play-off – both to Senegal – in the last two months, has looked like a player whose 47 appearances for club and country this season are catching up with him.
Were he not who he is, with the record he has in the Premier League for the club, he may have found himself on the bench. There would certainly be considerable doubt over his place. He is arguably the least in-form of Klopp’s five forwards.
However, dropping him against City is almost unthinkable because of the message it would send out before kick-off.
“Yeah, big-game experience helps, definitely. It is not the only important thing you consider when you make a line-up. But it is one of these,” said Klopp.
The Reds boss had said after Tuesday’s win over Benfica that Salah, for whom speculation over a contract which expires next summer continues to grow, appeared to have been influenced by “stories” around him.
However, he clarified that remark in his pre-match press conference by stressing he was referring to the talk about his workload and international disappointment, rather than any focus on his contractual issues.
“I didn’t know about the stories behind it, it was the ‘stories’ what we thought about intensity – not the stories that were written,” he added.
Those contractual issues remain. Salah, in an interview with Sky Sports, refused to commit himself either way. He did however label the talks “sensitive” and said “there are many things people don’t know about it”.
Klopp questions ‘equal’ talk
Liverpool head to the Etihad just a point behind City, having reeled in a 14-point deficit they had in January.
Klopp’s career in Germany…