It’s hard at this stage to imagine, but there was a point in time when Jürgen Klopp had his doubts about whether Liverpool should sign Mohamed Salah from AS Roma. Despite Salah’s impressive excursion in Serie A, Liverpool’s manager was not entirely reassured that the Egyptian winger’s physicality would hold up in the Premier League. Fortunately for the Anfield faithful, the club’s scouts convinced Klopp otherwise, and the rest is history.
That brief history so far has consisted of 19 goals in just 25 matches, and a series of eye-catching performances that have caused the La Liga rumor machines to spin into high gear. Not bad, considering that Klopp had refrained from setting goalscoring expectations for Salah upon the player’s arrival. Those expectations are now setting themselves.
So important is Salah to Liverpool’s efforts this season that there was a brief moment of panic among supporters when Klopp revealed that he had taken the winger off early during the Merseyside derby due to tightness in the hamstring. While serious injury appears to have been avoided, questions have now arisen as to whether Salah might see his minutes reduced during the frantic rush of holiday season matches - beginning with today’s contest against Bournemouth.
While it’s still possible that Salah’s minutes might be managed in the near future, Klopp has allayed concerns about the player going on the shelf for protracted periods during the next month, explaining that, despite his numerous appearances, Salah is in a good position to feature prominently.
“He had time out already. In the last international break he did not play for Egypt, he didn’t start at Stoke, we take him off as soon as possible,” noted Klopp. “I am not sure he played a lot more minutes than other players in our team, but it is true he starts often.”
“It’s because he is in a very, very good moment and it is difficult to think about leaving him out,” said Klopp, underscoring the obvious. “He is always a natural fit player. We talk a lot to the medical department and it is really rare that [there are] any issues with him. You don’t hear that he’s had a problem here or a problem there, that’s a big thing.”
Liverpool’s performance in the league over the next month or so will be critical for securing that vital Champions League spot for next year, but Liverpool still can’t afford to take their foot off the pedal once the fixture congestion eases. The Reds will venture into the knockout rounds of this year’s Champions League competition in February, when they - and hopefully a fully fit Salah - will take on Porto in a tie that both sides will see as very winnable.