Klopp confident Salah can keep it up

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho being brought down by Leicester's Christian Fuchs. Speculation is intensifying that LaLiga leaders Barcelona, who have made three bids for the Brazilian so far, will make another move this month.
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho being brought down by Leicester's Christian Fuchs. Speculation is intensifying that LaLiga leaders Barcelona, who have made three bids for the Brazilian so far, will make another move this month.PHOTO: REUTERS

Egyptian hotshot has minor injury but bigger concern is widespread talk of Coutinho move

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes winger Mohamed Salah can maintain his incredible goalscoring form for the rest of the season.

The Egypt international has netted 23 times for Liverpool in all competitions, equalling a club record set by Roger Hunt in 1961-62 for most goals in a campaign before the turn of the year.

He will hope to continue his hot streak against Burnley at Turf Moor today, although Klopp revealed Salah will first be checked by medical staff to assess a minor injury.

The 25-year-old was substituted seven minutes from time in the 2-1 win over Leicester on Saturday, having scored twice to help the Reds fight back from a goal down.

"He was limping, and that is not a good sign," Klopp said. "I don't know what is wrong. We will have to see what the problem was for the next game. But Mo can keep that standard for sure. It's not just about scoring only, it's about other situations. He is so important for us."

Salah has scored more goals in all competitions this season than eight Premier League clubs. His haul has contributed to Liverpool's best scoring campaign as a top-flight club at this stage of the season, with 77 goals in 30 games.

The win was watched by club-record signing Virgil van Dijk, whose £75 million (S$135.6 million) move from Southampton will be formally completed when the transfer window opens today.

The Dutchman is not eligible to play against Burnley, which means Klopp will again select from Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren. But, more than who the German will start, the bigger question at Turf Moor is whether Philippe Coutinho will be playing one of his last few games for the Reds.

Sportswear giants Nike, the forward's boot sponsor and Barcelona's kit sponsor, yesterday appeared to leak Coutinho's move to the Spanish giants.

"Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou. Get your 2017/18 FC Barcelona kit with the Magician's name on it," read the website, although the link to the shirt sales did not work and the advertisement was swiftly removed.

While it remains unclear whether it was a PR blunder or a hoax, speculation is rife that Coutinho will soon be a Barcelona player.

There has also been talk that Coutinho will be sold to balance Liverpool's books after they made van Dijk the world's most expensive defender, although Klopp has denied this. The German also rejected the notion that van Dijk's arrival will create nervousness among his existing centre-backs, even though their places will be under threat.

Inside three minutes at Anfield, Matip carelessly conceded possession and Riyad Mahrez set up Jamie Vardy to slot past goalkeeper Loris Karius, selected in place of the dropped Simon Mignolet.

Klopp said after his side - unbeaten in 15 games - finished the year in fourth place: "The really good players will always say the challenge of a player in your position will help you."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2018, with the headline 'Klopp confident Salah can keep it up'. Print Edition | Subscribe