Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah has not finished in his efforts to rewrite the Liverpool goalscoring record books after the Egyptian international took his tally for the season to 40 goals in a 3-0 Premier League victory over Bournemouth.
But the German manager also insists that Salah will not be distracted by his quest for the Golden Boot award, for the Premier League’s leading scorer, as Liverpool seek to end a memorable season by winning the Champions League.
Salah, in his first season at Anfield, became the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush in 1986-87 to reach the 40-goal mark and only the third from the club ever to reach that landmark after Rush and 1966 England World Cup winner Roger Hunt.
But Salah has reached his 40 quicker than either of his predecessors and, with potentially seven games remaining for his team, may yet challenge the all-time club record, currently held by Rush who scored 47 goals in a blistering 1983-84 campaign.
“Really it’s 31 years? He doesn’t look that old. He must have been 14 when he scored his 40 goals,” joked Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp about Rush, when told Salah had become the first Liverpool player since the Welshman to hit 40.
“But Mo knows what this means and the way we play suits him. For him, for the boys, it’s fantastic and today he certainly didn’t look like he doesn’t want to score in the next few games.
“It’s all about him, all about us and how we finish the season. Normally, in that situation, to be top of the goalscoring list at the end and win the Golden Boot, or whatever it’s called, means you have been successful as a team, but we can’t force it. But it’s good, impressive. What a number. Wow!”
There was certainly a “wow” factor about the manner in which Salah claimed his 40th, and the 30th in the league this season, after 69 minutes.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hanging cross into the Bournemouth area allowed Salah to peel away from his marker Nathan Ake and flick the most perceptive of finishes with his head over keeper Asmir Begovic.
Either side of Salah’s goal were efforts from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, taking their respective Liverpool tallies for the season to 25 and 17, meaning the prolific front three have now combined for an astonishing 82 goals between them this season.
Firmino’s 90th minute third goal made it 300 for Liverpool in well under three seasons since Klopp took over, but he insisted they can still improve in attacking areas by not always looking for Salah.
“What a number we’ve scored as team over the whole season,” added Klopp.
“That’s really good and we have to carry it on for a few games to come. I have seen the boys looking for Mo but we have to mix it up a little bit.
“He’s the threat but it’s good to analyse it with the boys afterwards, we show them and they listen. A lot of times we are in a position shooting and they cannot always give the ball to him. So we can still improve in this situation to use his threat and pass the ball somewhere else.”
With Anfield in the mood to celebrate the superb midweek Champions League victory over Manchester City, Mane gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he met a seventh minute cross from Jordan Henderson.
Begovic did well to save the initial header but Mane reacted quickly to blast in the loose ball.
And after Salah took centre stage, Firmino rounded off a fine afternoon for the hosts when he converted clinically from 18 yards after being picked out by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Bournemouth took four points from Liverpool last season, but having been swept aside in both meetings this campaign, Eddie Howe believes Liverpool’s improvement makes them serious contenders to win the Champions League.
“Comparing Liverpool to last season, they have really improved, grown as a team, as they have shown through the season,” said Howe. “Of course they can win the Champions League.”