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Klopp Talk: Salah Needs More Protection

So it turns out that you’re not on crazy pills. Our manager thinks Salah doesn’t get enough fouls called too.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Speaking ahead of Liverpool FC's trip to the Emirates Stadium to play against Arsenal in a crucial game that could see Liverpool move to just a point behind Man City, manager Jürgen Klopp spoke about Mohamed Salah. Thankfully, he again reiterated that Mo’s contract situation was fine, and negotiations would resume again in the summer after what will probably be a very busy, stress-filled but exciting race to the finish of the season.

He also informed the press corp that Salah was back in training after his knock he picked up on Saturday against Brighton and could feature against Arsenal.

“Mo is a tough cookie. He is very professional and desperate to play every game. He has worked on his body as well. There are players who are more vulnerable than others but Mo obviously has the right attitude, the right mindset and the right body for it as well.”

That drew the big German into a lament of sorts about the lack of foul called for Salah:

“It is absolutely crazy how low the number of fouls is against him. So he has constant contact and is going down all the time, having to get up again. The statistic is that Mo is the one player who is fouled the least compared to other strikers. Honestly, you have to ask the refs; I don’t know because we constantly think he gets fouled. He gets confronted with the [claim] that someone calls him a diver. That is an absolute shame.”

“We don’t get even close to the number of free-kicks that we should have. You must ask other people how that is possible because he is the guy who is constantly with the ball around the box and there is no foul: interesting. How is that? It is just not possible.”

This follows a pretty lengthy discourse earlier this month from a study by Paul Tomkins of The Tomkins Times. He analysed forwards with a similar profile to Salah, mostly from the Premier League, and measured their attacking touches against fouls received per 90 minutes. His conclusion? “While some players were winning a free-kick every 20 minutes, Salah needed to play the equivalent of full-time and extra-time in a Premier League game to get just one.”

Welp. I guess this hasn’t gone unnoticed by Klopp and his staff. The Guardian has some inexplicable yet totally believable stats:

  • only Alexandre Lacazette and Ivan Toney have won more penalties in the Premier League than Salah... yet that feels low for anyone who watches Liverpool play
  • 114 players have drawn more fouls than the Egyptian
  • Officials have penalised opponents for only 20 challenges on Salah in 26 matches
  • Salah is awarded a free-kick only every 110 minutes this season, despite having the fourth-most touches in the final third and the highest number in the 18-yard box

Ah, well. It is what is. Hopefully, Salah’s okay and continues to bang in the goals for us. Tonight’s not a bad time to continue. Up the water-bottle-sip inducing Reds.