LISBON, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, April 5, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah walks past manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg game between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at the Estádio da Luz. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp downplays comment of Mo Salah being affected by “all the stories”

After another difficult game in midweek, Jurgen Klopp admitted “all the stories” were affecting Mo Salah – but he didn’t mean it in the way many perceived and looked to clarify on Friday.

The trip to Benfica was a positive one for Liverpool but notably, Salah was off the pace of his teammates and was withdrawn after the hour mark.

It brought to an end another game that Salah had failed to score from open play, now eight dating back to mid-February, and the manager addressed his run of form post-match.

He noted “all the stories” relating to Liverpool’s No. 11 and the “tough period” he is experiencing, seemingly hinting at scrutiny over his contract situation which remains unresolved.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 2, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And with the huge game at Man City on Sunday, Klopp’s comments were put back to him and the manager was quick to downplay, stressing he only meant his recent on-field exploits with club and country.

“[The comments] were after the game, I know. I didn’t know about the stories around him,” Klopp explained to reporters.

“It just was the stories what I thought of being out [of AFCON and World Cup], intensity, playing 120 minutes six times – that is what I thought, not the stories that were written.

“I didn’t even know what was written.”

It’s a sensible backstep from Klopp but Salah will remain front and centre considering the stakes that are on the line on the weekend.

With Liverpool finding goals elsewhere, Salah’s dip has not been as costly as it could have been, but he has long proven he is a big-game player.

In his 12 previous matches against City, he has seven goals and three assists and while his current form has some questioning if he will start, his experience and threat cannot be doubted.

“Big game experience helps, definitely, it’s not the only important thing you consider when you make a lineup but it’s one of them,” Klopp said.