Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah’s drop in performance at the end of last season had more to do with the high demands placed on the player than speculation over his contract.
Egypt have scored just eight times, three of them from penalties, in 25 matches since returning to Anfield as a defeated Africa Cup of Nations finalist, scoring 23 goals in 26 matches before their departure.
Salah signed a new three-year deal just before returning to pre-season training and looked great in last weekend’s FA Community Shield win over Manchester City, scoring again from the penalty spot.
Klopp insists he saw no decline in activity for the 30-year-old last season and suggested that his struggles in front of the net were potentially more likely due to AFCON disappointments and the failure of the World Cup play-offs – both with Senegal.
“Everyone was talking about it (the contract) and we are people, but I didn’t see it as much of a distraction to be honest,” the Reds boss said.
“Of course, we are all affected by what surrounds us, and we cannot change that. We are no different from other people.
“Mo had one of the busiest seasons with the Africa Cup of Nations and all of our games.
Everyone was talking about it (the contract) and we are people, but I didn’t see it distract him much, to be honest.Klopp on Salah’s attitude last season
“Everyone is talking about how we played 63 games and such, but we had players who also played in the tournament between them, which is absolutely ridiculous.
“I think last year, around October, November or December, Sadio (Mane) didn’t score much and everyone was talking about it, and after he left (to Bayern this summer), it’s was like, “Oh my God, how are we going to survive.” without him constantly scoring goals?
“But until December, Mo scored a lot. But the difference between them (Salah and Mane) was that one won AFCON.
“But if you build a house, and a storm sweeps it away (destroys), you are doing the same job: one takes energy, and the other gives energy.
“He was, from my point of view, in brilliant shape and 98.99 percent.”
Klopp is confident that Salah’s new contract, making him the highest paid player on the team, will be an incentive for everyone, not just the player.
And he expects the striker to resume his search for a fourth Golden Boot in five years.
“After a few weeks of vacation, Mo is always full of strength and energy, and he returned in good shape,” he added.
“And yes, knowing where he will be, I would not say until the end of his career, because he is a player who can play much longer, during the next very important years in his career, which gave all of us momentum and him too .
“Of course, it’s much better than if he broke the contract next summer: Mo would be the same person, I’m 100% sure he could put that aside, but you (the media) wouldn’t stop. ask, and that’s a problem we’re constantly facing.”