The Reds forward was upset at missing out on the armband for his side’s Champions League game with Midtjylland earlier this month
Jurgen Klopp has revealed he spoke to Mohamed Salah over the Egyptian’s frustration at missing out on the Liverpool captaincy for a game earlier this month.
But the Reds boss says Divock Origi is the player who really should have been upset with his decision.
Salah caused something of a stir when stating, in an interview with Spanish publication AS last week, that he had been “very disappointed” not to be handed the armband for Liverpool’s Champions League game away to FC Midtjylland on December 9.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, six years his junior, led the team out in Denmark, becoming the third-youngest captain in the club’s history, while Salah was on target in the Reds’ 1-1 draw.
Salah’s former international team-mate Mohamed Aboutrika followed that by saying that Salah was unhappy at Anfield and that he could be sold.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with West Brom, Klopp was happy to clarify that there was no issue between himself and Salah.
“I was captain for a long time during my career, and I often thought what a heck of a job it was,” Klopp said. “There were not a lot of benefits, just a lot of work with all the things around it.
“So I don’t feel the importance of being captain. Yes, we need one like Hendo [Jordan Henderson], that’s clear, but being captain for a game, I didn’t realise how important that can be for players. In this world, we make a big fuss about everything, and I didn’t realise it was that much a story for Trent or whatever.
“The rule here is, we have a players’ committee. Hendo wears the armband, and if he’s not playing then it’s Milly [James Milner]. If those two are not playing then it’s Virgil [van Dijk] and if all three are not playing, it’s Gini [Wijnaldum].
“If they all cannot play, then it’s usually the player who is longest at the club. And that was how I saw it in my understanding. Trent got it because he was longest at the club – professionally, not just his youth career.”
He added: “Somebody afterwards told me it would have been Divock Origi, but Div was on loan and stuff like that. That was my fault. I didn’t make it that complicated. It was just, ‘Trent is longest at the club, so he has the armband’.
“Of course I spoke to Mo about it afterwards. When I realised it didn’t work out that well [for him], I clarified it, and then he spoke about it again in the interview, which is not a problem for me.
“Yes, he was disappointed, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I just did what I did, and if I made a mistake then it was that Divock Origi was not the captain that day!”
Klopp appeared bemused that Salah’s comments to AS had caused such a response in England and was happy to address other issues raised in the interview – such as the fact the 28-year-old refused to rule out a possible move to Real Madrid or Barcelona in the future.
“When Mo answered the question, it was just that these clubs might be interested, and he wouldn’t rule it out,” he said.
“Imagine, if you ask any player in the world who isn’t playing for Barcelona or Madrid, and you ask them, ‘Can you imagine playing for them one day?’ and they say, ‘No, not for them, Spain is s***!’ or whatever.
“Why would he say that? All [Salah] said is, ‘We will see’ and that it’s in the club’s hands. That’s true, 100 per cent. It’s about the future.
“It’s really all fine. You obviously have not a lot to talk about, and that’s why we make a long story about one interview. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make it more important to me. Mo is a very important player for me, obviously, but the story around isn’t!”
Asked if Salah’s single-mindedness – he also spoke of wanting to break “all club records” at Liverpool – made him difficult to manage, Klopp said: “It’s challenging, I would say, in a good way. That’s my job.
“The thing with footballers is they need to be extremely confident to play their best football. And being extremely confident, yes that makes you a special person, and not always the easiest to deal with every day.
“That’s the job. So far [with Salah] there was no problem, and I can’t see any problem in the future.
“Mo’s motivation level is really, really, really high, he keeps himself in a sensational shape, he works incredibly hard around his sessions – first in, last out, that kind of stuff. There’s nothing you can blame him for, to be honest.
“He knows exactly what he needs if he is to have a chance to break records. It’s all fine. These kind of interviews, which I heard now about, you make a lot of it, to be honest! It’s fine, but on a daily basis we don’t feel it.”
Liverpool could welcome back Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri to their squad for Sunday’s game with strugglers West Brom. The pair have resumed full training at Kirkby after muscle injuries.
Thiago Alcantara was also pictured training with his team-mates this week, but the Spaniard will not be risked this weekend as the Reds take all necessary precautions after his knee problem, which has kept him out for more than two months.