Jurgen Klopp has leapt to the defence of Mohamed Salah amid questions over his loyalty to Egypt and hit back at those who have criticised Liverpool’s handling of the forward’s injury.
Salah was forced off in the first half of Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations group stage clash against Ghana last Thursday with what was initially thought to be a minor hamstring injury.
With the issue deemed more serious than first thought, Salah has returned to Liverpool for treatment with his agent revealing this week he is likely to be sidelined for three weeks.
That timeline could see him return for Egypt at AFCON should they make the final of the competition in Ivory Coast. But Liverpool’s handling of the situation has been questioned.
Klopp confirmed on Sunday evening Salah would return to Merseyside to undergo treatment, with Egypt boss Rui Vitoria stating he ‘didn’t that it was right’ for the Reds boss to discuss the player’s future participation for the national side.
Salah’s own commitment to the cause has also been questioned with Egypt legend Ahmed Hassan, the nation’s most-capped player, furious with his return to the UK.
Hassan commented Salah was ‘plotting his departure’ from the Egypt camp, insisting the captain ‘should stay with the team no matter what, even if he only had one leg to stand on’.
Amid that drama, Liverpool booked their place in the Carabao Cup final with a 3-2 aggregate win over Fulham on Wednesday night.
In a post-match interview with beIN Sports, the subject of Egypt fans questioning Salah’s loyalty was raised with Klopp also quizzed on his own comments that confirmed the forward’s return to the UK.
The Liverpool boss hit back at any questions over Salah’s true intentions and insisted Liverpool and Egypt are working towards the same goal.
‘I cannot be part of that discussion,’ Klopp said. ‘Liverpool and Egypt have exactly the same interests, we want Mo Salah to be fit as soon as possible. If he stays there and they [Egypt] cannot do the proper treatment, that will just delay everything, especially for Egypt if they go through the tournament.
‘So we bring him here, not because we want to take him away from Egypt but to offer him the best medical treatment. That’s all we want, that’s all agreed. If Egypt get to the final it was always clear Mo goes back. Mo wants that. We want that. We don’t plan with Mo and think we can do a little bit here or there. We are completely honest.
‘And if I said something too early… I didn’t announce it, I said, I think it’s agreed. That is what I heard. I have so many things going around me and sometimes it is like, it is not agreed, but I think it is the plan.
‘The rest, some people make something of it. If someone questions the loyalty of Mo Salah, he should ask himself if his own loyalty is right because Mo Salah is definitely the most loyal Egyptian I have ever met in my life.’