Jürgen Klopp has told Mohamed Salah the only reason to leave Liverpool is the weather but conceded the club cannot force a player to stay against his will.
Salah did not rule out a future move to Barcelona or Real Madrid when he gave a rare interview last week to the Spanish sports daily AS and expressed disappointment at not being named captain for Liverpool’s Champions League group finale at Midtjylland. On the flipside the Egypt international, who became the club’s leading goalscorer in the Champions League in that game, also stated he wanted to break “every record in the club” and his immediate aim was winning the Premier League and Europe’s elite competition again with Liverpool.
Klopp said the interview did not indicate internal problems between Liverpool and their leading goalscorer, who is under contract at Anfield until 2023.
The Liverpool manager said: “The only reason to leave Liverpool at the moment is the weather. What other reason could there be? This is one of the biggest clubs in the world. We pay good money, maybe not the most in the world but we pay good, we have a sensational stadium with outstanding supporters, we have a fanbase all around the world and our colours are red, which is the nicest colour anyway.
“You cannot force people to stay but that is it. We never did by the way. It is all about timing, the right moment. We make changes and bring players in and if a player wants to go then we cannot, probably not hold him back; it’s just that I would not understand why somebody would want to go.
“When Mo answered the question it was that these clubs might be interested and he didn’t rule that out. If you ask any player in the world who is not playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid if he can imagine playing there one day and he said: ‘No, Spanish football is not for me,’ why should he say that? The only thing he said was we shall see and it is in the club’s hands. It is 100% true and it is about having talks about the future. It is really all fine. Mo is a very important player for me obviously but this story around is not.”
Klopp said it can be “challenging” managing players of Salah’s level albeit “in a good way”. He said: “Footballers need to be extremely confident so they can play their best football. Being extremely confident makes you a special person but not always the easiest to deal with every day. That’s my job. To deal with it. So far there has been no problem. I do not see there being a problem in the future.”
The Liverpool manager conceded, however, that he erred when appointing Trent Alexander-Arnold captain of his boyhood club for the first time against Midtjylland. Salah told AS that he was expecting to be captain that night in the absence of Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum.
“I was captain for a long time in my career and I always thought: ‘what a job this is’ because there are not a lot of benefits and there is a lot of work,” Klopp said. “I didn’t feel, or do not feel, the importance of being captain. Before the game I did not realise how important that can be for players and I didn’t realise how big a story it was for Trent.
“The rule here is we have a players’ committee. The committee is Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum. These are pretty much the four captains. If they all cannot play, usually it is the guy who is longest in the club. And that, how I saw it, was Trent. I don’t mean youth career, but in his professional career. Then somebody told me that on that basis it should have been Divock Origi. So it was my fault.
“Afterwards I spoke to Mo about it. Then I realised it did not work out that well so I clarified it. Obviously he gave the interview. That is not a problem for me. Obviously he was disappointed. I did not do it on purpose, and if I made a mistake then it was not making Divock Origi captain that day.”