Liverpool will be without star Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mene during the African Cup of Nations in January, but Jurgen Klopp wants to keep the Reds duo together for as long possible
Jurgen Klopp stated that Liverpool are still trying to get permission for Mo Salah or Sadio Mane late to report for the African Cup of Nations. This is in an effort to make the pair available for Chelsea in the New Years.
Senegalise striker Mane, and Egyptian star Salah, could be absent for five more weeks when the tournament starts in Cameroon.
FIFA regulations state that they should link-up with their respective countries after Liverpool’s Boxing Day clash with Leeds.
The Mersysiders have been in discussions with both countries in an effort to keep Salah & Mane safe until after the crucial Premier League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in January 2.
They would also be available to Klopp in time for the match against Leicester at King Power Stadium, December 28.
Klopp was asked if the talks had been successful after his team’s 4-0 thrashing of Southampton.
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He said: “Not really. It’s too early for that. We are still talking and we are hopeful.”
Klopp believes Diogo Jota was a smart choice to join the club despite the fact that he knew he had to face the challenge of dissolving their established front three.
The Portugal international scored twice, including the Premier League’s quickest goal of the season after 97 seconds, as Klopp’s side cruised to a 4-0 win over Southampton.
Jota has now scored seven league goals in this campaign, equal to Sadio Mane’s and four less than Mohamed Salah. No other player in the division has more.
The 24-year-old has 20 goals in 46 matches in all competitions since joining from Wolves in September 2020 – which includes three months out with a knee injury last winter.
His Premier League record for the club, 16 in 31, is even more impressive and shows why Roberto Firmino has prospered alongside Salah Mane and Roberto Firmino without being intimidated.
“An exceptional player, exceptional boy,” was Klopp’s assessment.
“A perfect signing as he has everything a Liverpool player in this squad needs; he has the technical skills, he has the physical skills and he is very smart so can learn all the tactical stuff quickly.
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“He can also play the three forward positions and the number 10. He has the speed and desire to finish things off.
“It’s the right decision because hypothetically when I talk to a player and they say ‘Where will I play?’ it is decided by your performance.
“In the end it is about making 30 to 35 really good games instead of getting somehow through a season and playing 50 games.
“You need more than 11 players in a squad and you need more than three strikers even though we play with three strikers and he was smart enough to see that.
“His goalscoring record is pretty good, unfortunately he had a big injury last year and that is never helpful but he is back thank God and he fits really well into this team.”