Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp talks up ‘world-class player’ Mohamed Salah

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed the “pure quality” of Mohamed Salah as the forward prepares to face his favoured opposition Manchester United.

The German also praised the way his team coped without their leading scorer for the two months he was absent first at the Africa Cup of Nations and then with a hamstring problem sustained at the tournament.

Salah scored and had three assists in his first 90 minutes since New Year’s Day in the 6-1 Europa League demolition of Sparta Prague but Sunday’s FA Cup trip to Old Trafford will offer a better barometer of whether he is back to his sharpest.

The Egypt international will be relishing the game as he has scored more goals for Liverpool against United – a club-record 12 in 13 appearances – than any other team.

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah starred against Sparta Prague (Peter Byrne/PA)

“I would have loved to take him off but it was not possible because of Bobby’s situation (midfielder Bobby Clark had a minor problem) and he could manage that pretty well – even then he set up another goal which was offside.

“Mo is pure quality. Ask him what he likes most about Man Utd but the more we talk about it the less likely it will happen again. Exceptional guy, world-class player and how we dealt without him was unbelievable. Unbelievable.

“The boys did really well – but it is better to have him around and on the pitch than just in the dressing room.”

Salah and Darwin Nunez’s nine goals in his last 11 appearances should at least pose a significant threat at Old Trafford.

Klopp said that day was the beginning of phase two of their season, even if ultra-defensive opponents frustrated them.

“I don’t know in the moment if we can play the same game again, it was a really good game,” he added.

“I would call this game the start of when we reached the next level for the season. Until then we were quite OK, we only lost one game, but it was still ‘Ah, sometimes really good, sometimes not so good’.

“It was difficult to judge us: we had so many things to overcome like red cards, being 1-0 down, so it was not clear how good we actually are.

Atalanta celebrate
Atalanta won at Anfield in 2020 (Laurence Griffiths/PA)

“But a lot of aspects in our game that day were really good and these aspects we try to bring on the pitch again.

“But the opponent had a full week to prepare, they might do a few things differently and then we have to adapt to that.”

Liverpool are chasing an unprecedented quadruple and Friday’s Europa League draw, a quarter-final versus Atalanta which could be followed by a semi-final against Benfica or Marseille, has made them even stronger favourites for that competition.

“Tricky but Atalanta we played there (in 2020) – not that I watched them since then 500 times, but still the same manager, pretty sure a similar structure so it means uncomfortable to play against, very well organised,” he said.

“It is a quarter-final – I didn’t expect any easy opponent. I have a lot of respect for what Atalanta is doing in the last years, very consistent.”

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