Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah’s drop in goalscoring late last season was due to the high demands placed on the player rather than contract speculation.
The Egypt international has scored just eight goals in 25 games – three of them on penalties – after returning to Anfield as a defeated Africa Cup of Nations finalists after scoring 23 goals from 26 before leaving.
Salah signed a new three-year deal immediately before returning to pre-season training and looked good in last weekend’s FA Community Shield win over Manchester City, scoring another penalty.
Klopp insists he hasn’t seen a drop in the 30-year-old’s commitment over the past season and suggested his struggles in front of goal may have been more likely to stem from disappointments at AFCON and the failure of the World Cup play-offs – both against Senegal.
“Everyone’s been talking about it (the contract) and we’re human but I didn’t see it distracted him a lot to be honest,” said the Reds manager.
“Of course we are all influenced by things around us, we cannot change that. We are no different from other people.
“Mo had one of the most intense seasons ever with the Africa Cup of Nations and all our games.
“Everyone talks about us playing 63 games and stuff like that, but we had some players who also played a tournament in between, which is absolutely ridiculous.
“I think last year, in October, November or December, Sadio (Mane) didn’t meet much and everyone was talking about it and after he left (to Bayern Munich this summer) it’s like ‘Oh my god, how are we going to survive without him scoring goals all the time?’
“But by December Mo had scored a lot. But the difference between the two (Salah and Mane) was that one won the AFCON.
“But if you’re building a house and a storm blows it away, you’ve done the same job: one takes energy and one gives energy.
“He was in brilliant form from my point of view and 98, 99 percent.”
Klopp is confident Salah’s new deal, which makes him the highest-earning player in the squad, is a boost for everyone, not just the player.
And he expects the forward to resume his quest for a fourth Golden Boot in five years.
“After a few weeks of vacation, Mo is always full of vigor and energy and he came back in good shape,” he added.
“And yes if I know where he’s going to be I wouldn’t say the rest of his career because he’s a player who can play a lot longer for the next very important years in his career which will give us all a boost have given and him too.
“It’s obviously a lot better than if he was out of contract next summer: Mo would have been the same person, I’m 100 per cent sure he could have brushed that aside but you (the media) wouldn’t have stopped asking , and that is the problem we are constantly confronted with.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/liverpool-mohamed-salah-jurgen-klopp-b2139341.html Jürgen Klopp: Mohamed Salah’s form low at Liverpool not because of contract uncertainty