Jurgen Klopp puts Mohamed Salah drop in form down to Afcon disappointment

·3 min read

Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah’s goals dried up at the end of last season because he was drained by Egypt’s defeat in the African Cup of Nations final.

Salah scored 31 goals in a season when he was named PFA Player of the Year and Footballer of the Year, but only three came in his final 16 appearances.

Klopp thinks the forward had an incredibly intense campaign, including 51 appearances for his club, two legs of a World Cup play-off and all seven games in the African Cup of Nations, four of which went to extra time.

But while he feels Salah was still in excellent condition at the end of the campaign, he compared the psychological effects of defeat on penalties to Senegal to seeing his house blown down.

The former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, part of the Senegal side who beat Egypt and then denied them a place in the World Cup, finished the campaign in excellent goalscoring form, whereas Salah had been prolific at the end of 2021.

And Klopp said: “Mo had one of the most intense seasons ever, with the Africa Cup of Nations and all of our games. Everyone talks about us playing 63 games and stuff like this, but we had some players who played a tournament in between as well, which is absolutely ridiculous.

“Last year, around October, November or December, Sadio was not scoring much and everyone was talking about that and after he left it is like, ‘My God, how will we survive without him scoring goals all the time?’ It is always like this, but until December Mo scored a lot and that is what we need.

“But the difference between the two was one won the AFCON. But if you do the hardest job, you build a house and when the storm puts it away, you did the same job, one takes energy and one gives energy. He [Salah] was from my point of view in a brilliant shape and 98, 99 percent. Of course we are all influenced by things around us, we cannot change that. We are not different from other people.”

Salah signed a new three-year deal in June, when he was about enter the last season of his contract, and Klopp believes it is preferable the issue of his future will not be a distraction this season.

He added: “He is in really good shape and he is happy to be here. As clear as it was for him and I said it for me, we would get the deal over the line but it is still an open thing, and everyone talks about it and stuff like this, we are humans, but I didn’t see it distracting him a lot to be honest.

“It is of course much better than if we would have been out of contract next summer. Mo would have been the same person, I am 100 percent sure he could have pushed that aside, but you would not stop asking and that is the problem we constantly face. You asked me how he was in training and it’s because ‘ah, the contract’. You ask the players and they say, ‘yesterday he was all right’ but these things help, yes.”