Jurgen Klopp rules out quick Liverpool return from injury for Mohamed Salah

Premier League leaders will be taking no risks with Egyptian attacker who misses Wednesday's game with Chelsea at Anfield

Mohamed Salah has scored 18 Premier League goals for Liverpool this season. Getty Images
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ruled out a quick return from injury for attacker Mohamed Salah ahead of their Premier League match against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Salah picked up a hamstring problem during Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations campaign that saw him leave the team camp to undergo treatment back in England – a decision that sparked a backlash in his homeland with some commentators and former players stating that the team captain should have remained with the squad in the Ivory Coast.

Egyptian manager Rui Vitoria also voiced his frustration that the news of the seriousness of Salah's injury was leaked out ahead of a crucial group-stage match with Cape Verde, threatening to overshadow team preparations.

Liverpool insisted the move to bring Salah back to Merseyside for treatment was simply to give the talismanic attacker the best possible chance of being fit for the latter stages of the continental tournament.

As it was, the Pharaohs' campaign ended at the last-16 stage on Sunday when they were beaten in a penalty shoot-out by DR Congo.

Now Salah, 31, is continuing his rehabilitation at Liverpool but the current table-toppers will be taking no risks with a player who has 18 goals and eight assists in the league this season.

“Mo is not ready for this game, not ready for the next game,” said the German coach, who announced last Friday that he was leaving the Merseyside club at the end of the season.

“He is injured, I’m not sure if that was a misunderstanding in the beginning. He is injured and a muscle injury takes time.

“There was no pressure on him other than wanting to get fit as quickly as possible anyway. But we don't rush.

“If you could rush the healing process then Thiago [Alcantara] wouldn't have been out for 10 months.

“You do what you can do and, while that happens, we have to wait.

“It could have been a lot worse but he’s not available and he’s having rehabilitation.”

Klopp's shock announcement last week has also cast doubt on the futures of some of his current squad, who are still battling it out on four fronts this season: the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and the League Cup – where they will be taking on Wednesday night's opponents in the final at Wembley Stadium on February 25.

Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and captain Virgil van Dijk all have 18 months left on their current contracts with the Dutch defender already admitting that he was unsure if he will be part of the new era next season.

Saudi Pro League bosses have also made it clear that Salah remains very much one of their key targets after failing in their attempt to lure the player to the Middle East last summer.

In Tuesday's press conference, Klopp was asked whether he was worried that his exit could result in Liverpool losing some of their key players during the summer. “No, I don’t think so but it is completely normal,” he said.

“It was always clear, when I spoke about what I spoke about, the outside world will not give you a second to process it, to think about it. It is ‘what are you doing?’.

“A week ago when no one knew about my decision and there were 18 months on the contracts, nobody asked. So give us a break, give the boys a break.

“Nobody has to worry. This club is stable, 100 per cent, and everything will be fine, I am 100 per cent sure, and the rest we have to get through. I would recommend to stay calm in this department, massively.”

Klopp was left close to tears by the reception he was afforded by Liverpool fans during the 5-2 FA Cup fourth-round win over Norwich City on Sunday.

And while he can expect another outpouring of emotion at Anfield on Wednesday – when Klopp will be chasing his 200th Premier League victory – Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino is aiming to spoil the party.

“Every time that they are going to play in Anfield is going to be a party, to celebrate and to give him all the love that the fans feel for him and I think [that is] well deserved,” said the Argentine, whose team sit ninth in the table, 17 points shy of Liverpool.

“But we are thinking to go there and to win the game – sorry, but we don’t want to be involved in part of the celebration.

“We want to be thinking about us, to perform well and to win the game.”

Updated: January 30, 2024, 5:00 PM