Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists Mohamed Salah is human and cannot be expected to lead the attack in every game.
Against Benfica on Wednesday, the Egypt international was rested for the third time this season, excluding cup matches, and one of those occasions came just a couple of days after returning as a beaten Africa Cup of Nations finalist.
Salah, who came off the bench just before the hour mark in the 3-3 Champions League quarter-final second leg draw that secured a quarter-final place against Villarreal, has already played 49 games for the club and the country.
There is a chance he could be required for a further 12 if Liverpool maintain their progress in Europe and the FA Cup, where they face Manchester City in a semi-final on Saturday, and that means his time will still have to be managed.
Klopp said the decision to leave him out against Benfica had nothing to do with his form, as Salah has not scored in open play since mid-February.
“The reason Mo didn’t start was easy. Even if Mo had scored four goals in the last game, he wouldn’t have started yesterday,” Klopp said.
“It has nothing to do with anything, there is no story to do, it was just a necessity.
“Mo played (for Egypt) in January and February six times for 120 minutes, so now we can close our eyes and say ‘Who cares?’
“Even he’s just a human being and it was clear there would be games where he can’t start, games where we take him away, and he hates that. But it is clear.
“People may think that what I’m doing all day is thinking about these things, but when these things are really a necessity, that’s clearly the case.
“I think the (Benfica) game showed that it was 100 percent correct to change seven times.”
Only goalkeeper Alisson Becker and centre-back Virgil Van Dijk have played more Premier League minutes than Salah this season, and he missed three games in January and February due to international commitments, in which he made seven full appearances, including four extra-times. consecutive. periods.
The super-fit 29-year-old’s workload has been massive this season, but Klopp doesn’t think he’s starting to catch up now in terms of his goal-scoring rate slowing down.
“Nothing conscious. It’s easy: If you sleep four nights a week only two hours, you think ‘I’m fine’ until the fifth day and you get hit, ”she added.
“They (the players) are completely in a tunnel, they want to play, play, play, play, be successful and win it all. That’s why I don’t ask players ‘Are you tired?’
“I have to make decisions without talking much, just make them and deal with it and go from there. My responsibility, right or wrong.
“Yesterday we were able to rest seven players who started three days earlier and that’s great. Seven more players got some rhythm.”
Salah is sure to return to the starting lineup for the Wembley match against City.
After last Sunday’s 2-2 draw, the second between them this season, when his team were poor in the first half, Klopp hopes to see a better version this weekend.
“I think City were really strong last week and we weren’t at our best, so I’d like to see a game where we’re at our best too. That would be interesting,” the Reds boss said.
“Let’s give it a try. Maybe that would be a surprise, suddenly we’re fine.
“The guys did a lot of good things in the game, but I really think at a couple of positions we can perform at a completely different level and I think we should give it a try.
“And it’s a cup match, a unique match, if it goes back to 2-2, it’s 120 minutes and if it stays that way it’s penalties and it would be crazy if it went all the way”.