Most managers would be rushing to claim credit for signing the top scorer in the country. Especially when that buy is not even a specialist centre-forward but a winger.
But not Klopp. The Liverpool boss was quick to deflect praise towards the scouting team. They wanted Mohamed Salah. They kept telling Klopp that. He listened. He acted. He spent £37 million. He is grateful for their good advice.
“The scouting department did a fantastic job about him,” Klopp said.
“They didn’t get out of our ears. It was 100 percent, ‘he is ready, he is ready.’ At one point, we were all sure he was ready. And that’s how it looks now.”
Salah was a summer signing for Klopp. He was a long-term project for Liverpool’s scouts. Their interest in the Egyptian dates back years. They tried to bring him to Anfield in 2014 only for Chelsea to swoop. After spells at Fiorentina and Roma, Salah finally made it to Liverpool.
Now he has been leading the race for the Golden Boot, outscoring Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette.
“I could be surprised if I had thought about it,” Klopp said.
“We knew we would get a very, very offensive minded midfielder who is a striker in a lot of games but also has the ability to make goals. So that was the package we wanted, and that’s cool.”
Salah is not merely outscoring his peers. He is outscoring his predecessors. Find the net at Bournemouth and he will be the first Liverpool player to reach 20 goals before Christmas since Ian Rush 31 years ago. No one else has done that since. Not some of Anfield’s striking greats. Not Robbie Fowler. Not Michael Owen. Not Fernando Torres. Not Luis Suarez.
And while Klopp courted controversy by resting Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho in Sunday’s Merseyside derby, Salah has played most minutes for Liverpool this season – 1284 – and is set to stay in the side.
“It is true he starts often,” Klopp said.
“Because he is in a very, very good moment and it is difficult to think about leaving him out. He is always a natural fit player. When you hear the name of a player twice from the medical department it is pretty clear he is not in the squad or on the bench. That’s how it works these times. We and he have been lucky so far that there is nothing around him.”
Indeed, Salah’s power helped persuade Klopp sign a player who looked too callow for English football in his year on the margins at Chelsea.
“If you watch him only on television he looks quite skinny,” Klopp added. “But we watch a lot of games about physicality, being strong enough for challenges. I met him and he looks more ready.”
He wasn’t at Chelsea. “He was a kid,” Klopp said.
“We all need confidence. Going from Basel to Chelsea is a brave decision but [struggling there] didn’t make him think he wasn’t good enough. He wanted to prove it. And so he went to Italy and proved everything. That is another difficult league and he did well. So we are really happy we could convince him to come here.”
But, as Klopp readily admits, others played a part in convincing him.