Jurgen Klopp calls on Mohamed Salah to fire Liverpool into Champions League second round against Napoli

Salah has found his scoring boots in the Premier League, but so far has only found the net twice in Europe so far this season. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018

Jurgen Klopp calls on Mohamed Salah to fire Liverpool into Champions League second round against Napoli

  • Liverpool need to beat Napoli to have a chance of making it to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
  • Salah fresh off a hat-trick is the key man, claims Reds boss.

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has called on Mohamed Salah to maintain his current fine form and fire Liverpool into the knockout stages of the Champions League.
By his own high standards the Egyptian ace had a slow start to the season. Coming off the back of his record-breaking campaign last time around — when he scored 44 goals for the Merseyside club in all competitions — Salah had been quiet in comparison, scoring seven times in the Premier League up until Saturday’s 4-0 win
at Bournemouth.
But a brilliant hat-trick against the Cherries kicked into touch any worries that he would struggle to hit the same heights again, and Klopp is only too aware his return to form comes at the perfect time with Liverpool who must beat Napoli tonight to make the Champions League knockout stages.
The Reds cannot afford defeat against the Italians, and know that even a 2-1 win could see them eliminated.
The Liverpool manager said that he was never worried the Egyptian would struggle to find the form of last season and has called on Salah to find his scoring boots once again to help ensure his side see off the Italians.
“I’m interested in the moment, but I never judge it because the moment is just a little part of all what we do,” Klopp said. “So I was not for one second worried.
“If you score 10 goals in the first five games, everyone would say: ‘It will happen again.’ But if you score 39 (in a season), it would be: ‘Yeah, but it’s not 41.’
“What Mo did (against Bournemouth) was just exceptional. I don’t know at the moment a lot of players who would have scored these goals.”
The hat-trick against Bourne-mouth took Salah’s tally to 10 Premier League strikes this season as he also became the fastest Liverpool player to reach 40 goals in the competition after he reached the milestone in his 52nd match.
The Merseyside club, who were beaten by Real Madrid in the final last season, could do with another Salah masterclass — they need either a 1-0 victory or to win by two clear goals to progress to the last 16.
“We have the chance with a specific result still to go through when this Champions League campaign so far was not really ours,” Klopp said.
“We have to be on our toes — it’s a big one, our people know that and I know they are already warming up.”
Liverpool’s Champions League campaign has never really got going this season. An impressive 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the first match promised much better than to be going into the final clash knowing that even victory may not be enough. Defeats away at Napoli (1-0) and, surprisingly, Red Star Belgrade (2-0) dented any hope of quick qualification from one of the tougher groups.
A 2-1 defeat to PSG in the French capital last time out has left the group and Liverpool’s participation in the second round on a knife edge.
“We were not good at Napoli, so first of all we would like to show we are better than that,” said Klopp. “So we also have to call again on Anfield, and they should help us because that is a massive game, a really massive game.
“Last year we did nearly everything to get qualified for that tournament again, because we had the final in the background but we also knew we had to do the job in the league.”
But with Salah scoring and playing the clash at home, Klopp is hopeful Liverpool can get the result needed. “They know as well it will be tough, but they are strong and we need to be very strong,” the German said.


Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Updated 50 min 37 sec ago

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

  • The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, has not played since March 2020

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has hailed the “genius” of Mesut Ozil after the Arsenal outcast confirmed he was leaving the Premier League club to join Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

The former Arsenal boss signed the German playmaker in 2013 but the relationship has turned sour under current manager Mikel Arteta.

The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, on a reported weekly salary of £350,000 ($475,000), has not played since March 2020. But Wenger said the former Germany international, who won the World Cup in 2014, was a rare talent.

“Mesut is like if you imagine an orchestra in music,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports Turkey.

“He’s a guy who plays the ball at the right time. The timing of his pass is exceptional, but the creativity of his pass is as well.

“In every situation he confronts, he gives the right answer and that is genius.”

Ozil has claimed he is in good physical condition despite his lengthy period on the sidelines but Wenger said his former player would take a few games to build up his “competitive fitness.”

“If his basic fitness in training is good, it will only take him three or four games to be at his best,” said Wenger.

“The quality that he has is... vision in depth. He sees quickly, he decides quickly and he realizes quickly what he sees. That is a quality you don’t find too often in our game.”

Wenger said Ozil would strengthen Fenerbahce’s bid to win the Turkish league for the first time since 2013/14.

“I’m sure that he’s frustrated at not having played,” he said. “His hunger must be absolutely (enormous) to play football again.

“Mesut is a guy who needs a warm environment and I believe he will find that more than anywhere else in Turkey.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side but after what he labelled “racist” attacks following the holders’ first-round exit at the 2018 tournament, he ended his international career.

Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs, are currently second in the Turkish Super Lig behind Besiktas.