Klopp: I spoke to Salah after the disappointment of the Liverpool captain, but Origi was my big mistake!
The Reds forward was upset to miss the armband for his side’s Champions League game with Midtjylland earlier this month.
Jurgen Klopp has revealed he spoke to Mohamed Salah about the Egyptian’s frustration at missing Liverpool captaincy for a game earlier this month.
But the Reds boss says Divock Origi is the player who really should have been upset with his decision.
Salah caused a sensation by declaring, in an interview with a Spanish publication AS last week he was “very disappointed” not to receive the armband for Liverpool’s Champions League game against FC Midtjylland on 9 December.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, six years younger, led the team in Denmark, becoming the third youngest captain in club history, while Salah was on track in the Reds’ 1-1 draw.
Former Salah international teammate Mohamed Aboutrika then said Salah was unhappy at Anfield and could be sold.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with West Brom, Klopp was happy to make it clear that there was no issue between him and Salah.
“I was a captain for a long time in my career, and I often thought about how much of a job it was,” said Klopp. “There weren’t a lot of benefits, just a lot of work with everything around it.
“So I don’t feel the importance of being a captain. Yeah we need it like Hendo [Jordan Henderson]It’s clear, but being captain of a game, I didn’t know how important it could be for the players. In this world, there’s a lot of noise about everything, and I didn’t know it was really a story for Trent or whatever.
“The rule here is that we have a committee of players. Hendo wears the armband, and if he’s not playing it’s Milly [James Milner]. If these two don’t play then it’s Virgil [van Dijk] and if the three don’t play, it’s Gini [Wijnaldum].
“If they can’t all play, it’s usually the player who is longest at the club. And that’s how I saw it in my understanding. Trent understood this because he was the longest at the club – professionally, not just his youth career.
He added: “Someone told me afterwards that it would have been Divock Origi, but Div was on loan and stuff like that. It was my fault. I haven’t complicated things. It was just, “Trent is the longest in the club, so he has the armband.”
“Of course, I told Mo about it afterwards. When I realized it wasn’t working very well [for him], I clarified it, and then he brought it up again in the interview, which is not a problem for me.
“Yes, he was disappointed, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I just did what I did, and if I made a mistake, Divock Origi was not the captain that day!
Klopp seemed puzzled that Salah’s comments AS had elicited such a response in England and was happy to address other issues raised in the interview – such as the 28-year-old’s refusal to rule out a possible move to Real Madrid or Barcelona in the future .
“When Mo answered the question, it was just that these clubs might be interested, and he wouldn’t rule it out,” he said.
“Imagine, if you ask a player in the world who doesn’t play for Barcelona or Madrid, and you ask them, ‘Can you imagine playing for them one day?’ and they say: “No, not for them, Spain is shit!” or whatever.
“Why would he say that?” All [Salah] says, “We’ll see” and it’s in the hands of the club. That’s 100% true. It’s about the future.
“Everything is going really well. You obviously don’t have much to say, and that’s why we’re making such a long story on an interview. That’s good, but that doesn’t make me more important. Mo is a very important player for me, obviously, but the story is not!
Klopp, however, stressed that he couldn’t understand why any player, let alone Salah, would want to leave Liverpool at this time.
“We could all look for something else if we wanted to, but for me the only reason to leave Liverpool right now is the weather!” he smiled.
“What other reason could there be? It is one of the biggest clubs in the world. We pay the money, maybe not the most in the world, but we pay well, we have a sensational stadium with great supporters all over the world. Our colors are red which is the prettiest color anyway, so where is the reason?
“You can’t force people to stay. We never did, by the way. It’s all about timing, the right time. We’re making changes and bringing in players, and if a player wanted to go, we wouldn’t stand in the way. It’s just that I don’t understand why they would want it.
When asked if Salah’s determination – he also spoke of wanting to break ‘all club records’ at Liverpool – made him difficult to deal with, Klopp said: “It’s difficult, I would say, in the common sense. It’s my job.
“The problem with footballers is that they have to be extremely confident to play their best football. And being extremely confident, yes, that makes you special, and not always the easiest person to deal with every day.
“It’s work. Until there [with Salah] there was no problem and i see no problem in the future.
“Mo’s motivation level is really, really, really high, he keeps himself in amazing shape, he works incredibly hard around his sessions – first in, last out, that sort of thing. There’s nothing you can fault him for, to be honest.
“He knows exactly what he needs to have a chance to break records. Everything is fine. Those kinds of interviews, which I’ve heard about now, you do a lot, to be honest! It’s good, but on a daily basis, we don’t feel it.
Liverpool could welcome Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri back to their squad for Sunday’s game with wrestlers West Brom. The duo resumed full training in Kirkby after muscle injuries.
Thiago Alcantara was also pictured training with his teammates this week, but the Spaniard will not be at risk this weekend as the Reds are taking all necessary precautions after his knee problem, which kept him from go out for more than two months.