Jurgen Klopp has admitted uncertainty regarding Mohamed Salah’s departure for the Africa Cup of Nations, expressing uncertainty about the timing of Liverpool losing the forward to international duty.
Scheduled to lead Egypt in the January tournament in Ivory Coast, Salah’s responsibilities as captain will see him in action from January 13 to the final on February 11. Egypt, placed in Group B alongside Ghana, Cape Verde, and Mozambique, is set to open their campaign against the latter on January 14.
As a consequence of national team commitments, Salah is expected to be absent from Liverpool’s fixture against AFC Bournemouth on January 21. Depending on Egypt’s progress in the tournament, he may also miss key Premier League encounters against Chelsea, Arsenal, and Burnley if they advance to the knockout stages. In the scenario of Liverpool reaching the League Cup semi-finals and FA Cup fourth round, Salah’s participation would likely be affected in those ties as well.
Salah’s potential availability for Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round clash with Arsenal on January 7 hinges on the timing of his international duty. Klopp acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding Salah’s call-up for Egypt, expressing a desire to integrate Diogo Jota, recovering from a muscle injury, as a compensatory measure during the 31-year-old’s impending international commitments.
“No, I didn’t think about it to be honest and I can’t change it anyway,” he told reporters. “I have no real plans for it. It’s January, right? I hope Diogo is back then.
“I didn’t think about it (January) yet. Probably (he’ll be available for Arsenal in the FA Cup). I’m not sure when the official date is to give the boys.
“December is a really tricky month. You’re happy when you get through it and then you start thinking about all the rest. We cannot avoid it anyway.
“Whatever I can say, if Egypt and Mo decide he has to go on the second, third, or fourth of January. I’m pretty sure Mo wants to play the game but I’m not sure we can make that decision.”
Despite Salah’s absence, Klopp can rely on Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, and Jota this January. Additionally, Harvey Elliott, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Ben Doak provide more attacking options. Klopp expresses enthusiasm for the robust depth in his squad and the positive attitudes displayed by his players, evident in Liverpool’s ongoing success as they navigate a hectic festive period.
“It is the quality of the players. When I said a few months ago that it is easy to fall in love with this team, I had the squad in my mind,” he said. “It was the first day and everyone was together.
“Wataru (Endo) and Ryan (Gravenberch) came a bit later, but the rest was together from the start and you recognise this fresh energy and the quality and the talent and the skill and everyone took on the new roles and saw the new opportunity. It was really easy (to fall in love).
“And then if you want to use a squad, a couple of things are really important. That you have as many top quality players as possible and then the players are in the right situation in their career.
“Like coming new into it, happy to play ten minutes, happy to play the second game (in a week) because they are not used to the intensity.
“Sometimes a substitute comes in and wants to prove me wrong. Fine. But long term the next time you won’t be angry with the manager, you will just be angry and then you won’t be any good anymore. So these kinds of things can help.
“In general it is feeling comfortable in your situation and confident as well. That is the group. The boys coming on are really influential.”
“On top of that, the five up front – unfortunately only four now with Diogo out – they all know about their quality, there is no one in doubt, so if they don’t start it is not a problem because they know they cannot play all the games.
“If you don’t start, you definitely come on. Fine. They are waiting outside but they always come in (with a good attitude) – ‘When are the others a bit tired and I can come on.’ I realised pretty early that we were lucky with that combination.”
He continued: “This should not be a big story but Divock Origi was the perfect player for us because Divock accepted that he was not a big starter. When he came on his influence was always massive.
“If he had always been angry, he couldn’t have been here as long as he was: ‘I score two goals, but you don’t bring me on in the next game’.
“It was not that I had to explain to Divock, ‘By the way, Bobby starts again next week.’ He was fine with it, but he knew his importance.
“That is the situation. They all know they are all super important and everyone is involved and on top of that we have these very young kids coming up and having their minutes. And they are obviously happy with whatever you throw in front of them.
“That is a good combination. The first reason (for the changes) is the quality we can bring from the bench but as well the mentality based on the situation within the squad then makes the difference. That helps.
“If you searched for it, you couldn’t find a player who is completely unhappy with his situation and thinking, ‘Why am I here?’ They all know that they are super important and have already an opportunity to show that as well.”
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