Klopp names biggest problem at Liverpool right now; suggests Salah struggles are the fault of two players

Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah

Jurgen Klopp admitted Mohamed Salah is “suffering” this season and hinted his struggles are a direct result of two players, while the Reds boss also echoed a common complaint when describing what the biggest issue at Liverpool is right now.

Liverpool began the season as genuine title contenders in most people’s eyes, though at the half-way mark, they’re struggling to simply finish inside the top four.

They’ve already bowed out of the League Cup and face a tricky fourth round tie in the FA Cup away at Brighton. The Reds have beaten Brighton just once in their last six meetings including drawing and losing in the two league clashes this season.

The Champions League is unlikely to offer respite given a Round of 16 clash with reigning European champions Real Madrid awaits. All in all, it’s been a sobering season at Anfield.

Mohamed Salah has done what he does best, top scoring for the club with 17 goals across all competitions.

However, the Egyptian has cut a frustrated figure since the World Cup especially. That’s coincided with a notable dip in his output too, with Salah scoring three and providing zero assists in Liverpool’s eight matches since domestic football returned.

Ahead of the Brighton clash, Klopp admitted his talismanic forward is “suffering”, and pointed to the break-up of their “well-drilled” frontline as the primary reason why.

Sadio Mane was sold to Bayern Munich last summer, while Roberto Firmino has missed Liverpool’s last eight through injury.

Salah toiling without familiar forwards

“Of course he is suffering,” said Klopp (via the Guardian). “It was a well-drilled machine the front three; everything was clear what we were doing.

“Everyone suffers. It is specific, offensive play that requires a lot of work and a lot of information, and not always obvious information.

“You create a feeling about a lot of these things, about where your teammate is and where to pass the ball, no look or whatever.

“That is not cool but we cannot expect just to be back to our best and win 5-0 and go to the next game. We have to work hard. No one wants to hear it but they have to do it.

“In two or three weeks we hope to have a couple more options and we can mix it up. Now we have Cody [Gakpo], a really important asset, a connector; he can play the wing and the centre as well.

“When Darwin is playing there he is obviously more high up, going in behind. We never played with a ‘9’ before – even when Sadio was there he was dropping in moments and that is not Darwin’s game. He wants to have other balls at his feet and he is a real handful there.

“It is all good if they would all be in and we could build something but we couldn’t do that.”

Klopp turns spotlight on biggest Liverpool issue

Mane’s loss is unquestionably a sizeable factor in Liverpool’s decline this season. However, the common consensus is that an even bigger issue of their flaky midfield.

Many of Liverpool’s current options in the engine room are either off-form or aging. Jamie Carragher has been particularly vociferous in his criticism of the Reds midfield this season.

Their inability to effectively press allows opposition ball carriers time and space to exploit the high defensive line.

Furthermore, the inability to win the ball back quickly has drastically reduced the number of snap chances provided to their forwards in transition.

Klopp went on to admit the midfield issues have plagued Liverpool this season, stating they don’t have a “real basis to build on” anymore.

“Mo has scored hundreds of goals in recent years and when you don’t score the first thing people think about is that, but that is not our problem at the moment,” added Klopp.

“I am happy if he scores one and the next game someone else scores and we have a clean sheet.

“We started the season with Harvey [Elliott] in the half position, with Hendo [Jordan Henderson] it is different, and now it is Naby [Keïta].

“Usually you have a real basis to build on and that is what we don’t have.”

The first step towards remedying their midfield woes is expected to be taken in the summer window.

Jude Bellingham is the club’s primary target, though he and he alone cannot be expected to turn the tide.

If owners FSG are serious about backing Klopp, multiple midfield additions must be sanctioned at season’s end.

FA CUP PREDICTIONS: One less competition for Arsenal to worry about; groundhog day for Liverpool; Man Utd rout