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Klopp hopes his Liverpool deal will persuade Salah to stay

By AFP - Apr 30,2022 - Last updated at Apr 30,2022

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (right) with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (AFP photo by Shaun Botterill)

LONDON — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he does not believe his new deal will be the deciding factor in whether star forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane commit their long-term futures to the club.

Salah and Mane, along with fellow attacker Roberto Firmino and midfielder Naby Keita, have contracts that expire next year.

With Klopp now staying until 2026, there is a greater degree of security at the club, but the German is not convinced that will make a huge difference to individual players’ decisions.

“If it is a positive sign for the boys, great, but I don’t think this will be the one decisive thing for whatever decision they want to make,” he said on Friday.

“It is their own life but we just wanted to guarantee that everyone who wants to be here knows what he can expect.”

Egypt international Salah, whose negotiations have dragged on for several months, admitted last week it was not certain he would remain at Anfield, stressing the decision was not just about the money.

But Klopp said he did not make judgements about players’ loyalty based on whether they wanted to go elsewhere.

“If a player tells you early enough he wants to go then you have to deal with it,” Klopp said.

“I don’t judge people if they are loyal or not if they say during a contract ‘I want to go somewhere else and see what the weather is like or how the grass is there’.

“That’s not the case. I think you see loyalty in other areas.”

Salah was named the Football Writers’ Association player of the year on Friday.

Klopp takes his side to Newcastle for the early kick-off on Saturday, looking to put pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City, who are playing later at Leeds, by opening up a two-point gap at the top.

With one foot in the Champions League final after a 2-0 win over Villarreal in the first leg of their semi-final and an FA Cup final against Chelsea next month, an unprecedented quadruple remains a possibility.

Klopp, whose side have already won the League Cup this season, said his new contract was the start of a new era at the club.

“We don’t think about changing the team in the next two or three years or whatever, but you have to prepare the little things so that you are ready for the future as well,” he said.

“That’s why I really think it’s a really good place to be or a good place to join, if not the perfect place.

“We cannot wait 10 years. We have to do it now. It’s no threat. This is only the start, to be honest. That’s the plan, that we really, really go for it.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday that Klopp’s decision to extend his stay at Liverpool will not have any influence on his own future plans.

Guardiola’s current City deal expires at the end of next season and he has yet to commit to prolonging his spell with the Premier League champions.

It remains to be seen whether Guardiola will stick around to maintain his duel with Klopp, with City and Liverpool embroiled in another tense Premier League title race this term.

The Spaniard insisted his only focus at present was City’s crucial trip to Leeds on Saturday as the leaders try to maintain their one-point advantage over second-placed Liverpool.

“Congratulations to Jurgen and Liverpool,” Guardiola told reporters.

“I think it’s really good for the Premier League. I wish him all the best for the future. My future is Leeds, our future is Leeds and then the end of the season.”

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager said of his life at City: “I’m enjoying this part of the season and after we’ll have time. 

“I’m incredibly happy and could not be in a better place to be working.

“I cannot visualise a better place but it’s not just me, it’s many things, other situations. With calmness, we are going to take the decision we are going to take.”

Liverpool forward Salah was voted the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year on Friday.

The Egyptian, who has scored 30 goals in all competitions for Klopp’s quadruple chasing team this season, beat City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne into second place.

Guardiola offered congratulations to Salah, but laced the compliment with what might be perceived as a back-handed swipe at Klopp.

“Congratulations to Salah. Jurgen said they have the best keeper, the second-best keeper in the world, the best central defender, the best holding midfielder, the best striker. So it’s normal they win all the awards,” he said.

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