Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp played down reports that Mohamed Salah is set to commit his long-term future to the club, but said contract talks are ongoing ahead of their Champions League quarterfinal first-leg tie at Benfica on Tuesday.
Salah is close to agreeing a contract which would see him finish his career at Anfield, according to a report in the Sunday Mirror.
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Salah’s existing contract runs out in June 2023 and the 29-year-old previously said he wants to extend his stay at Liverpool but claimed his future “is not in my hands.”
When asked about the situation at a news conference on Monday, Klopp replied: “I’m happy with it because there’s nothing new to say.
“It is just good. The decisive parties are talking to each other and that’s all I need.”
Since returning from AFCON, Salah has scored just five goals in 11 games for Liverpool but Klopp said he is not worried about the forward’s form.
“For me, the performance level is important, how he brings players together,” he added. “It’s a tough period for Mo and Sadio [Mane], coming back from international duty and being available again. We see him every day — there is nothing to worry about.”
Liverpool head into the match against Benfica having not conceded a goal away from home since January and defender Virgil van Dijk is delighted the defence is starting to be appreciated.
“Before the international break, in January, I did care a little bit that it was going unnoticed,” he told a news conference. “I felt a bit taken for granted, coming back from a long-term injury, that everything was sort of ‘normal’, that everyone expected the same.
“I said it in an interview that I felt taken for granted. But after the break I didn’t and maybe that helped the performances. Everyone is playing their part.”
Despite being only third in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Benfica have already caused a couple of upsets in this year’s Champions League, first eliminating Barcelona from the group stage and then taking out Ajax in the round of 16.
“We respect them but we don’t fear them. We know the quality they have.
“I don’t think it’s only their midfield, they have an extraordinary team and fantastic players. We will do our best to match them.
“This is a different Liverpool to the one I faced when I was playing in England. They have been playing together for more than five years. This team is stronger. Their individuality is top quality. We have a good attack as we have shown in previous games and we will try to test them.”
Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.