Jurgen Klopp has declared he is “very positive” that Mohamed Salah will commit his future to Liverpool and insisted there was no need to worry even as contract talks with his top scorer have dragged on.
Salah could leave on a free transfer when his current deal expires next year and put the onus on Liverpool to make him an acceptable offer when he said in an interview this week that he was “not asking for crazy stuff.”
However, the Egyptian is expected to ask for the biggest contract in Liverpool’s history, reflecting his remarkable success in scoring 148 goals in four-and-a-half years, including 23 in 26 games this season.
Liverpool have proved willing to lose players on free transfers, including midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, who Klopp wanted to keep, rather than acceding to their salary demands and breaking their wage structure but Klopp is confident he can keep Salah.
He said: “I know that Mo wants to stay. We want him to stay. That’s the point where we are. These things take time, I can’t change that: sorry. But I think it is all in a good place.”
Klopp replied to a question about supporters being concerned they might lose Salah by adding: “I am very positive about it. I’m pretty sure the fans are not as nervous as you are. But there’s nothing to worry about, it’s a normal process. Mo has a contact here [for] this season and next season. It’s just the situation. All fine, not done, but we had talks. He’s a world-class player, an unbelievable player who did a lot of great stuff for Liverpool. Of course we want to keep him.”
Salah turns 30 in June and Liverpool seemed reluctant to give Wijnaldum a long-term deal at a similar age. But Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are examples of forwards who have proved prolific well into their thirties and Klopp believes Salah’s professionalism and hunger equip him to do likewise.
“It's his character, his determination, the way he trains, his attitude, and work rate,” he said. “It's incredible. First in, last out, doing the right stuff. You can do some not-so-good things when you spend so long in the gym and the training ground, but he knows his body, he knows what to do. He listens to the experts here and tries to improve all the time. He tries to improve for the situation he is in now, and he will not waste it by doing less; I am as convinced as you can be.”
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Liverpool get a glimpse of life without Salah when they take on Arsenal on Thursday. The Egyptian was among the scorers when they beat Mikel Arteta’s team 4-0 in November and Klopp said: “Arsenal was in a good moment then and is now maybe in an even better moment. They play exciting football and Mikel is doing an exceptional job.”
This is the belated first leg of the League Cup semi-final after last week’s game was postponed because of false positive tests at Anfield. Now the African Cup of Nations means Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita are absent, while Divock Origi and Thiago Alcantara remain injured but Trent Alexander-Arnold has recovered from coronavirus and Alisson Becker is back in contention. Takumi Minamino and Roberto Firmino, who were not deemed fit enough to start Sunday’s FA Cup win over Shrewsbury, when each came off the bench, could be senior starters in attack.
But Klopp is also considering using Kaide Gordon, the 17-year-old winger who became the second youngest scorer in Liverpool’s history at the weekend. “Kaide is always in our mind because he is an exceptional talent,” he said.