Jurgen Klopp exclusive interview: Luis Diaz’s special long-range threat and Mohamed Salah’s development ahead of Man Utd trip

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Mohamed Salah returned from his summer break with a new trick.

“I think he found a right foot on holiday,” laughs Jurgen Klopp during an exclusive sit down with Sky Sports ahead of Liverpool’s big Monday Night Football clash at Manchester United.

“He always develops. It’s really crazy. I know a few years back he arrived and usually when a player comes from outside inside they use the inside of the foot to spin the ball and all of a sudden he had the full throttle – the Chelsea goal is a pretty remarkable one.

“This year he arrived with crosses with his right foot.”

Salah may be renowned for his remarkable goal scoring stats but he has always had the ability to provide opportunities for others.

That has gone to a new level recently, with the Egyptian following a 2021/22 season in which he recorded career-high assist figures with a personal-best tally of eight chances created in Liverpool’s draw with Crystal Palace.

Salah is a superstar performer for Liverpool. But his increased creativity is a reflection of his drive to keep on improving.

“He’s obviously a top professional and he really tries to add on things into his game,” said Klopp. “He is a top, top, top striker and with the numbers he had, not only scoring-wise but assisting-wise as well, it’s big.”

Man Utd will be particularly wary of what Salah could come up with at Old Trafford.

Last season’s golden boot winner opened his account for this campaign with a late equaliser at Fulham. After scoring five times against Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s squad last season, he will be itching to add to his total of nine goals against Liverpool’s arch rivals.

One more and he’ll become the outright top scorer in this standout fixture.

“I’m pretty sure he knows that,” smiles Klopp.

“I didn’t know it but I’m pretty sure Mo knows it, so good news!”

Monday 22nd August 6:30pm Kick off 8:00pm

For all of Salah’s efforts, it was a stunning second-half strike from Luis Diaz which earned 10-man Liverpool a point against Palace on Monday.

The Colombian hit the ground running after arriving at the end of the January transfer window and has started this season quickly too.

That quick adaptation isn’t always the case for players coming into the Premier League but Klopp puts his seamless transition to England’s top flight down to Diaz’s quality.

“He had to play immediately because two boys were at the Africa Cup of Nations, so that helped him settle in,” said Klopp.

“That gave him immediate confidence. It’s his quality, his talent, his skillset. He’s a really good player. We knew it before and when you’re really good it’s easier to settle in.

“He has this special thing: He can score from outside the box, which for a striker is really important. He’s very, very important for us.”

Image: Luis Diaz has been one of Liverpool’s top performers since he joined from Porto

Klopp’s reference to Diaz as a striker is an interesting one, especially given Liverpool must make do without £85m frontman Darwin Nunez against Man Utd, following the Uruguayan’s red card on his Anfield debut.

With Diogo Jota also sidelined with injury, that suspension places extra responsibility on Salah and Diaz to deliver in front of goal, although Roberto Firmino is fit again and could come straight back into the team.

There are also selection issues in defence and midfield.

Given the injuries and suspensions affecting Klopp’s line-up options, the Liverpool boss is taking nothing for granted ahead of the trip down the M62.

He stops short of any discussion about last season’s 5-0 win there, which left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the brink and his team embarrassed. He says the shock 4-0 defeat for Erik ten Hag’s side at Brentford last time out makes it difficult to predict how the Dutchman will approach this contest.

“I don’t think about these kind of things,” he says in reference to last October’s victory.

“It makes life not easier when you arrive there now. It’s already a very, very, very important game – as if it wasn’t important enough before – for United and for us as well, we are not over the moon about our start.

“When you do the [pre-game] analysis you try to figure out what an opponent might do. We played them in pre-season and we’ve seen them playing twice. But I don’t know how many changes he’ll make, I don’t know if he’ll change the approach.

“But it’s early in the season, it’s always like this, you never know. For example, last week Crystal Palace played once before with a five at the back and now they play against us with five in the back. Interesting!

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Crystal Palace in the Premier League

“We don’t know. You have to prepare for pretty much everything. But 100 per cent it will be a very intense game and it has to be. You need good officials and stuff like this so it stays normal. It’s early but already really important.

“We give the players all the information they need but in the end it’s all about what the boys bring on the pitch. In all the media, everywhere, everyone will remind United about the results we had last year. But I knew last year they wouldn’t help for next year.

“We know what’s at stake and I’m pretty sure we’ll be ready.”

Man Utd’s approach may be hard to anticipate but with Salah and Diaz’s own unpredictability, that element of surprise could lead to another win on enemy territory to kick-start Liverpool’s season.

Watch Manchester United vs Liverpool live on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm; kick-off 8pm

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