Klopp not wishing Salah ‘too much luck’ at AFCON

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has jokingly admitted that he did not wish Mohamed Salah ‘too much luck’ as the Egyptian star left for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Salah, who is the Premier League’s top scorer with 16 goals, will miss several games for Liverpool as he represents his country in the continental tournament, which runs from January 9 to February 6.

Klopp said he had a friendly conversation with Salah before he departed, but also expressed his hope that he would return as soon as possible.

“I said if I wish you good luck it would be a lie,” Klopp said ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round tie at Arsenal on Sunday1.

“He knows that. He is happy to be back but he is disappointed as well, massively so. We spoke about the tournament. He will deal with that of course.”

Salah’s absence is a huge blow for Liverpool, who are top of the Premier League table and also competing in the Champions League and the FA Cup.

Klopp said he has solutions to cope without Salah, but also acknowledged the difficulty of replacing his quality and impact.

“It is not the first time, it is a really very average situation that you lose your goal scorer. But we had it even worse in the past when both Sadio [Mane] and Mo left. We always came through it,” Klopp said2.

“We have solutions today and I hope we have that after Newcastle as well. It is not easy to replace Mo Salah, but we have to do it.”

Salah is not the only Liverpool player who will miss games due to international duty. Summer signing Wataru Endo, who has impressed in midfield, will join Japan for the Asian Cup, which starts on January 12.

Klopp said he respects Endo’s decision to play for his country, but also hopes that he will not be away for too long.

“We have to get through this. We know the Africa Cup of Nations appears and Mo has to go, and so we have to deal with it, that was always clear. Now with Endo we have a participant of the Asian Cup as well. We knew it and now we have to deal with it, and we will,” Klopp said3.

Salah and Endo are expected to play their last game for Liverpool before leaving for their respective tournaments against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Sunday. Klopp said he will field a strong team for the game, as he aims to win the domestic cup for the first time in his Liverpool career.

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