Football

‘I make the decisions’ – Klopp defends choice to take off ‘tired’ Salah in Chelsea defeat

The Egyptian forward came off earlier than he ever had with the Reds in a home Premier League start against the Blues

Jurgen Klopp has defended his decision-making after he removed Mohamed Salah for Diogo Jota in the 62nd-minute of a 1-0 home loss to Chelsea on Thursday – a substitution that led the forward to shake his head as he walked off the pitch.

Klopp said he makes the “decisions that I think are right in the moment”, though he admitted he could have removed either Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino instead of the Egyptian forward.

With the defeat, Liverpool have now lost five straight matches at Anfield for the first time in their history. They’ve scored just once across those games.

How did Klopp explain the Salah sub?

The manager told BBC Sport that Salah “looked like he felt the intensity tonight” before defending his call to take him out of the firing line.

“I didn’t want to risk it,” Klopp said. “It is all fine, I make decisions that I think are right in the moment.”

“I just brought on flesh legs,” Klopp added to Sky Sports. “[Salah] looked like today he suffered a bit, he played a lot of games.

“I could have taken off Sadio [Mane] or Bobby [Firmino], that is all clear but at that moment it looked like Mo. [James] Milner we bought on to wake them up a bit and keep them in the game because we needed one situation.”

What did Salah’s agent tweet?

Shortly after Salah was taken off earlier than he ever had in a home Premier League start for Liverpool, his agent posted a mysterious message on Twitter.

It’s unclear whether the single punctuation mark was connected to Klopp’s substitution, but the gesture did generate social media buzz.

What is the history between Salah and Klopp?

Salah’s time at Liverpool has mostly been a dream for all parties involved. Just last week, Klopp said he hoped the attacker would be an important player for the Reds for “a very long time”, and the manager has generally been a vocal supporter of his top scorer.

The one shaky moment this season was a controversial interview in which Salah said he was “very disappointed” to have been snubbed for captain in a Champions League dead-rubber game against Midtjylland. He was benched against Crystal Palace soon after, but the incident has since seemed to be resolved, at least publicly.

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