The goalscoring form of Liverpool striker Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah is currently at completely opposite ends of the goalscoring spectrum, but manager Jurgen Klopp is happy with both.
Mane’s two goals in the FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City at Wembley took his tally to four from as many games, while his team-mate has gone six games without scoring and the last in an open game was in mid-February. .
While Salah’s position on the right side of the attack is virtually guaranteed in every game, Mane saw winger Luis Diaz arrive in January, while he was away winning the African Cup of Nations, and make an immediate impact on the left flank, which has traditionally been the uncontested dominance of the Senegal international.
Klopp, however, believes Mane’s current resurgence has less to do with the £37.5m Colombian and more to do with Mane’s attitude and having recovered from a grueling six weeks with his national team.
“I’ve known Sadio for almost six years, to my knowledge he never needed any kind of competition to try to be the best version of himself,” he said ahead of arch-rival Manchester United’s visit.
“He played pretty much every game for a long time when he was fit and consistently performed at an incredibly high level.
“Bringing Luis in, I’m not sure it affected that part of his game, I don’t know. That was not the reason to bring Luis.
“No, I don’t think Luis is the reason why Sadio scored four goals, but in a way, maybe because Luis can obviously keep a pretty busy back line which then opens up gaps for other players.
“Sadio also had some physical problems since he came back (from the African Cup of Nations); he didn’t feel it, but we could see that he couldn’t use his immense physique week after week or every three days: that was the problem.
“I really felt before the game against City ‘OK, that one looks like Sadio physically’ and that’s why he was able to play the game he played.
“It was super difficult to defend and very useful and incredibly important in our defense because the first goal he scored, you can only score if you try to get there and he did and you only do this run if you feel fresh enough to do it.
Salah, by contrast, has looked tired at times and his usual sharpness in front of goal appears to have deserted him for now.
Klopp, however, is not worried as scoring responsibility has been taken over by Mane, Diogo Jota and also, somewhat unexpectedly, Ibrahima Konate with the central defender scoring the first goal in his last three matches.
“It’s a completely normal spell that Mo is going through. We’ve talked about all the physical demands he’s faced in recent months, so it’s completely normal.”
“I really liked the game against City, it was a very good football game, and it’s only a matter of time before I score as well.
“He was unlucky a couple of times and we all know that if you’re not lucky as a striker you don’t even try.
“He was close enough now for a couple of times. The time will definitely come. I am very happy with the performance he showed a few days ago.”
Asked if he had any reason to speak to the 29-year-old about his form, Klopp added: “Not really, it depends. You have to look at it and then I have to make a decision if it’s necessary if we talk or not.
“We had many conversations during the time we worked together, but at this specific moment there is no need for it.
“We talk about the situation, we talk about the normal things about what he has to do in the game, the game plan and how to expose the opponent, but it’s completely individual for all the players.”