Liverpool’s scouting department hounded Jurgen Klopp to sign Mohamed Salah this summer, insisting the Egyptian was “ready” to be a force in the Premier League, the Reds manager has revealed.
Salah has rewarded Liverpool’s faith in him with 13 goals in 17 league appearances this season, but Klopp said there were initial concerns that the playmaker was not physical enough.
After signing with Chelsea from Basel in 2013, Salah failed to stay in the Blues’ plans before moving to Roma, and Klopp said Liverpool rated him the entire time.
“His speed is his speed, it doesn’t depend on which league he’s in. That is clear,” Klopp told multiple English newspapers. “Of course we had to look at a lot of his games to see about other parts, physicality, being strong enough for challenges.
‘But you see now, he is. I met him of course at one point and he looked ready. If you watch him only on television he looks quite skinny.
“I said before the scouting department did a fantastic job around him. They didn’t get out of our ears. It was 100 percent, he is ready, he is ready. At one point, we were all sure he was ready. And that’s how it looks now.”
Despite Salah’s emergence after his move away from Chelsea, Klopp said the London club should not bear any blame for giving up on him too early.
“He was a kid. We all need confidence. We all need help from outside, especially as a young player in a foreign, very strong, very demanding league,” he said.
“There is nobody to blame at Chelsea, they had a fantastic team. But if we’d played him only five times this season and said: ‘OK, you need to improve you are not used to our system,’ then he could not perform like this.
“Sometimes it takes a little bit of time for a player to have a situation where everybody is helping him, and leave you on the pitch even if you are not performing at your best, because you think he will maybe score one more. He has this time.
“He has also made brave decisions. Going from Basel to Chelsea is a brave decision, of course for a player from Egypt playing in Switzerland it is kind of a dream going to a really big club in England.
“Then you realise ‘OK, it has not been that dream” but that didn’t make him think he wasn’t good enough. He wanted to prove it.
“And so he went to Italy, Firenze, Roma, and he proved everything. And that is another difficult league for a striker. They play different football but it is difficult for a striker especially, and he did well. And so we are really happy we could convince him to come here.”
With Salah appearing in every league game so far this season, and starting all but two, there have been some concerns about Klopp overusing his new star, but the manager dismissed their claims.
“He had time out already,” Klopp said. 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. That’s how it is.
“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.
“He is always a natural fit player. We talk a lot to the medical department and it is really rare that any issues with him. You don’t hear that’s he had a problem here or a problem there, that’s a big thing.
“When you hear the name of a player twice from the medical department it is pretty clear he is not in the squad or on the bench. That’s how it works these times. We and he have been lucky so far that there is nothing around him.”