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‘Salah is a human being’ – Klopp explains why Liverpool star was benched against Benfica

10:14 BST 15/04/2022
Mohamed Salah Bernardo Silva Manchester City Liverpool 2021-22
The German tactician explains his decision to bench the 29-year-old Pharaoh in the Champions League fixture at Anfield

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has come out to defend his decision to leave out forward Mohamed Salah in his starting XI for the 3-3 Champions League draw against Benfica at Anfield on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Egypt international moved to the bench in the return leg fixture but was introduced in the 65th minute for Luis Diaz as the Reds eased to a draw to reach the semi-finals comfortably on a 6-4 aggregate win.

Klopp has explained why he benched the former AS Roma player, who has so far in this season managed 20 Premier League goals from 29 appearances.

“It’s my responsibility, right or wrong. So the reason for Mohamed [Salah] not starting against Benfica is easy - yes, because we play Manchester City [in the FA Cup semi-final] but also because we have 12 games after that,” Klopp said as quoted by Mirror.

“Nothing to do with anything, else, no story to anything. Just the necessity. Salah played in January and February six times in 120 minutes, so we can’t just close our eyes and say ‘who cares?’”

“Even he [Salah] is just a human being and that is why it is clear there will be games where he can’t start, there will be games where we take him off - he hates that! But it is clear. People might wonder what am I actually doing all day, but it is to think about these kind of things when these things are really, really necessary to do, and that was clearly the case with Salah.

“That is why Salah didn’t start, and what I just hope is that the boys can play at the highest level as often as somehow possible. Because the boys are really highly trained athletes, they don’t need a lot of time for recovery…but no time for recovery, that doesn’t work. That is why I made the decision.”

Klopp has also defended his decision to rest seven players by stating: “If seven players who started three or four days ago didn’t start last night and are fresh. Great. Seven more players got some rhythm. Great. We are in the semi-final - outstanding.

“It is not conscious, Salah doesn’t feel it, (tiredness) but it is just logical - if you sleep four nights in the week only two hours and you think ‘oh I’m fine’ but the fifth day you get a knock. The intensity of the game showed it was right to change seven players.

“If you play a few minutes in this game and then the day after you have a nice session, it is not even close to the intensity of the other game. And that is what we have to do because we want all the boys to be at the highest possible level for the next 12 games.”