It has been 365 days since Jurgen Klopp dismissed suggestions Mohamed Salah could be set for an uncertain summer. At the time, the Liverpool manager insisted that his star attacker was happily settled on Merseyside. And one year on, it appears absolutely nothing has changed. On January 31, 2020, Klopp was asked if he thought Salah would still be here for the start of next season.
Jurgen Klopp said: “I would think so. Did you hear something different? How can you see the hunger to stay at Liverpool? It looks to me like he is really settled to be honest. I have no idea, actually, but you could ask me the same question for all the others and I have no idea. I didn’t think about it until [the press] asked me. As long as I don’t hear anything and I don’t ask the players what they think of next season or in two years, for me, it looks like [he will stay]. How long is his contract? Long? I would [think so] yes, but I have no idea.”
Of course, the manager was proved right and Salah has continued to plunder goals and excel in leading the line for Liverpool for much of this season. Fast forward 11 months to December 19, though, and Salah stoked the flames around his own future with many rushing to fuel the fire. To explain, Salah hinted he wanted to extend his Liverpool contract last month after declaring his desire to break “every record in the club”.
But the Egyptian has an open mind over his future after refusing to rule out a move to La Liga title contenders Real Madrid or Barcelona. The 28-year-old had been in sparkling goalscoring form at the time of the interview and broke Steven Gerrard’s record for most Champions League goals for Liverpool in December, one of several landmarks he has reached since arriving at Anfield in the summer of 2017. And the forward has indicated he wants to be around to set more standards when asked how long he wished to remain with the Reds.
Mohamed Salah said: “That’s a tough one, but right now I can say that everything is in the club’s hands. Of course, I want to break records here, every record in the club, but everything’s in the hands of the club. I think I have broken a few records, I wish I could break all the records for the club, that would be nice. But the team comes first before any record. But as much as you keep breaking records and winning games, that’s great also.”
Salah, though, stopped short of ruling out a move to two of Spain’s leading sides during an interview with Spanish news outlet AS.
Mohamed Salah”I think Madrid and Barcelona are top clubs. We never know what is going to happen in the future, but right now I’m focused on winning the Premier League and the Champions League again with my club.”
Now, the interview seemed more like a plea from Salah to FSG over being handed a new contract but the fact he didn’t rule out the likes of Real Madrid saw many go into overdrive about where his future possibly lay. But right on cue, Klopp was there to stand firm in his stance on the issue. On December 24, the manager refused to give any credence to talk about Salah’s future and said the Egyptian forward is enjoying life at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp said: “We never speak about contracts, with the press anyway, so why should we start now? Mo is in a good mood and moment, and in really good shape and that is the most important thing for me. If you would have been in training today, you would have seen him laughing a lot. He enjoyed the session so that’s good as well. The rest is nice for you to write but internally, nothing really [to say].”
The day after, on December 25, Klopp said he saw no reason for Salah to leave Liverpool and went futher to dismiss claims the player was agitating for a move away from Anfield.
Klopp said: “I don’t know, we all want it and we can look for something else if you want but the only reason to leave Liverpool right now is really the weather. What other reason could be there? This is one of the biggest clubs in the world. We pay good money, maybe not the most in the world, but we pay good, and we have a sensational stadium, outstanding supporters with a fanbase all over the world. So our colours are red, which is the nicest colour anyway, so what is the reason? But you cannot force people to stay but that is it. We never did by the way, it is all about timing in the right moments, stuff like this. We have made changes to bring players in and if someone wants to leave we cannot hold them back. I just don’t understand why someone would want to go. And when Mo answered the question, it was that these clubs might be interested, but he didn’t rule out that. Imagine. OK, I am different because you ask me a lot about it and these things about contracts and stuff like this. But ask any player in the world who is not playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid and then ask them ‘can you imagine playing for them one day?’ and [imagine] he would say ‘No, not for me, Spanish. They are the big ones in Spain’. Why should he say that? The only thing he said is ‘we will see’. And about Liverpool, [a new contract] is in the club’s hands and stuff like this. It is true 100 per cent. It is about talks and having talks about a future and these kind of things, so it’s really all fine. You obviously have not a lot to talk about and that is why we make a long story from one interview. That is completely fine but it does not make it more important for me. Mo is a very important player for me, obviously. But this story isn’t.
Klopp also said he was more than happy with what Salah said in the interview, claiming more was being made of it than needed to be.
Jurgen Klopp said: “These kinds of interviews that I have heard about now,” he added. You make a lot of it to be honest, which is fine, absolutely fine, but on a daily basis, we don’t feel it. It is a challenge to manage players in general. They are all human beings and you are different and my players are no different. It’s a challenge in a good way but that is my job, actually. The thing with footballers is they need to be extremely confident and then they can play their best football. So being extremely confident makes you a special person and not always the most easy to deal with every day but so far, there is no problem and I can’t see any in the future.”
On January 13, 2021, the Brazil international explained his belief that “demanding” team-mate Salah would always be linked with potential transfers elsewhere but he was confident that the Egyptian remained happy at Anfield.
Fabinho said: “Big players will always have their names involved in rumours. Salah plays for Liverpool, one of the biggest teams in the world. So I think it’s normal to see his name linked to other teams, especially from different leagues. Anyway, I see him very happy here and pleased with his performances this season. He’s very demanding with himself, he wants to be the best, he wants to help the team and works hard for it. It’s always been the case and it hasn’t changed at all. He keeps scoring goals, which everyone is used to seeing. In the changing room he’s always talking to everyone and making jokes. I don’t see anything affecting him. Overall, I am not following the news so I’m not sure about any rumours. As I said, top-quality players will always be linked to big clubs.”
And then it was Salah himself who went out to set the record straight on January 18. The attacker reiterated his desire to stay at Liverpool and indicated he would like to stay at Anfield beyond his current terms, which expire in the summer of 2023, declaring his contract situation “in the hands of the club”.
Asked about his future Salah said: “I do not know. If you ask, I say I want to stay here as long as I can, but as I have said before, it is in the hands of the club. I will always give 100 per cent to the last minute I am in this club and I want to win as many trophies as I can. And I want to give 100 per cent to the people, who show me love all the time.”
Finally, it was Klopp who had the last word after yet more speculation over Salah following those comments. On January 23, the boss said he wasn’t concerned the story would have any impact on the team.
Klopp said: “I don’t think so,” he replied to one such suggestion. That’s a normal thing as well in the world of football. It’s not that we go out and talk about things we think are important, it’s pretty rare. But we get asked questions and we answer and that’s the story and [it looks like] we started the conversation. In most cases, it’s not like that. No, I don’t think it will disrupt the season.”
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