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What happened between Mo Salah and Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool touchline?

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It was supposed to be a fairytale ending for Jurgen Klopp in his final season as Liverpool manager.

The Reds were in the thick of the most exciting Premier League title race in recent memory as March arrived, and were amongst the favourites to win the Europa League as the competition reached the quarterfinals.

Then, in the span of two weeks, it unraveled in spectacular fashion. League defeats to Crystal Palace and Everton coupled with a European exit at the hands of Italian side Atalanta came together to blow up Liverpool’s season and ruin Klopp’s swansong.

As the end of the season nears and the Reds have nothing to show for their efforts, things continue to spiral out of control. A Premier League draw with West Ham in late April saw Liverpool drop even more points, and a touchline bust-up between Klopp and star forward Mohamed Salah only served to sour the run-in even further.

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Mohamed Salah’s late-season struggles led Jurgen Klopp to bench the Egyptian star against West Ham on April 27th, three days after Salah went the full 90 minutes in the damaging Merseyside derby defeat.

With the match deadlocked at 2-2 in the final 15 minutes, Klopp elected to bring Salah on in the hopes of securing a late winner and springboarding the club back to a much-needed positive result.

Before Salah even managed to make it onto the pitch, however, the two had a scuffle that was emblematic of Liverpool’s collapse over the last month. Standing next to the fourth official who was just about to officially introduce Salah to the match, the player and manager began demonstratively exchanging words, and only the intervention of Darwin Nunez served to end the heated verbal spat.

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While the incident could have easily been downplayed and swept under the rug, Mohamed Salah’s short quip after the match only served to indicate that the heated squabble was potentially the tip of a much bigger iceberg behind the scenes.

After the match had concluded and the two clubs shared the points, reporters waited in the mixed zone for Salah to speak on the incident and his late-season struggles. Instead, Salah walked by reporters refusing to speak — which is well within his right — but he gave a small nugget of emotion which served to ignite further speculation of a rift between the Egyptian and his manager.

As he walked by, Salah refused to stop and talk with reporters, explaining that he did not wish to take questions because “there’s going to be fire today if I speak.” When one reporter asked “fire?” Salah continued walking and said “yes, of course.”

Clearly still on an emotional high from the incident, Salah’s small morsel of frustration feels like an indication that all is not well down the stretch of a taxing season.

While Salah’s postgame comments added fuel to the fire, his manager attempted to douse the flames in his post-match media availability.

“No,” Klopp responded succinctly to domestic broadcasters TNT Sports after being asked if there’s a prevailing issue between the two. “We spoke already in the dressing room. For me, it’s done.”

Asked again about the incident in his post-match press conference, Klopp repeated, “We spoke about it in the dressing room so it’s done for me. That’s all. That’s it.” The German was then asked a follow-up to clarify if the situation is resolved between the two, to which he replied, “That was my impression, yes.”

If there’s any indication of a lingering issue between the two, it seems to be coming from the player and not the manager. At the very least, it’s the manager who is attempting to downplay the issue publicly to allow time for the two to come to a more amicable reckoning.

Mohamed Salah has had a brilliant career at Liverpool, winning both a Premier League and Champions League title with the Reds and logging a prolific tally of goals and assists in the process.

However, the 2023/24 season is unraveling quickly, and Salah’s struggles down the stretch and potential rift with club management could hasten his exit.

The 31-year-old missed significant time due to injury from late January to early March, and since returning to full-time action against Man City on March 10, he has just two goals and no assists in eight Premier League appearances, plus just one goal across the two Europa League games against Atalanta which led to their quarterfinal exit.

Salah will be 32 by the time next season begins, and his current contract expires next summer. It feels likely that a parting of ways is coming, given the club would likely have to work out a new contract with the Egyptian this summer to keep him from leaving. Seeing Salah depart on a free transfer would be far from ideal, as he still retains significant transfer value.

With the interest from Saudi Arabia unlikely to dampen in the coming months, Salah could be headed for an inauspicious exit from the club which brought him to global prominence over the prime of his illustrious career.

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