Jurgen Klopp insisted he was “all fine” over an interview Mohamed Salah gave to the Spanish press, in which he said he was “very disappointed” not to be given the captaincy.
Salah spoke to Spanish newspaper AS this weekend, and was asked about being overlooked for the role of captain for the 1-1 draw with Midtjylland earlier in December.
With Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum all not involved, Klopp instead handed Trent Alexander-Arnold the armband, explaining that it was due to the 22-year-old’s longevity at the club.
Liverpool’s No. 11 wanted the captaincy himself, as he told AS: “Honestly, I was very disappointed. I was expecting to be the captain…but it’s a manager’s decision, so I accept it.”
Salah also spoke about a possible move to “top clubs” Real Madrid and Barcelona, saying that “we never know what is going to happen in the future,” and while he wants to “break every record” at Anfield, the situation is “in the club’s hands.”
Not too much should read into Salah’s comments, of course, but the fact he granted a rare interview outside of his usual media obligations with the club does require a level of scrutiny – particularly given his agent, Ramy Abbas, has publicly criticised AS in the past.
But while it can certainly be seen as courting interest from La Liga, Klopp himself insisted he is not concerned, telling reporters in his post-Crystal Palace press conference there is “nothing to say from my side, all fine.”
Klopp omitted Salah from his starting lineup for Saturday’s 7-0 win at Selhurst Park, and it was speculated that this was due to the interview.
The manager, however, detailed his reasoning, with the 28-year-old having been used heavily in recent weeks and, in need of a rest, he could be brought on to change the game from the bench instead.
Of course, Liverpool were already 4-0 up when Salah replaced Sadio Mane in south London, but the plan still played out for Klopp and his star striker.
“What was the plan with him not starting? It’s just the first time in a while we had the opportunity to do something like this,” he said.
“It was clear, we played Sunday-Wednesday, so we needed fresh legs today. Joel could come in, Naby could come in, then we had to think about how we could deal with that in [attack].
“Mo played the last four games, missed only seven minutes, in a massively intense period. So it was clear it would be him.
“Then usually you would expect in a game like this against Crystal Palace, the recent results between us and them were always pretty tight, close, so bringing him in the last hour an hour, I thought it’s a good idea.
“We did that, by the way, but it was not exactly the scenario we would have expected, of course.”
While Salah is an icon at Liverpool, tied down until 2023, there remains a nagging feeling that if any of the Reds’ key players were to leave, it would be him, with Spain the most obvious destination.
For now, there is no threat of either the Egyptian uprooting or unrest settling in, but while he continues to break records on Merseyside, the caveat remains that “we never know.”