Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah’s drop in goal output at the end of last season was more due to tough demands on the player than speculation over his contract.
The Egypt international only scored eight times – three of which were penalties – in 25 matches before returning to Anfield as a defeated Africa Cup of Nations finalist, scoring 23 before his departure in 26.
Salah signed a new three-year deal just before returning to pre-season training and looked sharp in last weekend’s FA Community Shield win over Manchester City, scoring again from the spot.
Klopp insisted he did not see a decline in the 30-year-old’s commitment last season and suggested that his struggles in front of goal were more likely to result in disappointment at AFCON and World Cup play-off failures – both in Senegal. For.
“Everyone talked about it (the contract) and we’re human but I didn’t see it too distracting to be honest,” the Reds boss said.
“Of course we are all influenced by the things around us, we cannot change that. We are no different from other people.
“Moe had the most intense season ever with the Africa Cup of Nations and all of our games.
Everyone talked about it (contract) and we’re human but I didn’t see him too distracted to be honestKlopp on Salah’s attitude last season
“Everybody talks about us playing 63 games and things like that, but we had some players who even played a tournament in the middle, which is absolutely ridiculous.
“I think last year, around October, November or December, Sadio (Mane) was not scoring much and everyone was talking about him and after he left (for 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 won by AFCON.
“But if you build a house and a storm blows it up, you did the same thing: one takes energy and one gives energy.
“From my point of view, he was in great shape and 98.99 percent.”
Klopp is confident that Salah’s new deal, which makes him the highest earner in the team, is an incentive not just for the player but for everyone.
And he expects the forward to resume his search for a fourth Golden Boot in five years.
“After a few weeks off, Mo is always full of vigor and energy and he’s back in a good shape,” he said.
“And yes, knowing where he will be, I will not say about the rest of his career because he is a player who can play long enough for the next very important years of his career that fueled all of us and him too.
“It’s certainly a lot better if he’d been out of contract next summer: Mo would have been the same person, I’m 100 percent sure he could have pushed it aside, but you (the media) don’t stop asking and that’s it.” That’s the problem we constantly face.”