UCL qualification is a must for Liverpool – Salah

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah Liverpool star Mohamed Salah

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah has told his teammates that qualifying for the Champions League is “not optional” and shrugged off reports he could leave the club at the end of the season.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have only lost once in the Premier League since late October, sitting third in the table, two points behind second placed Manchester United.

The race for Champions League qualification will be ferocious over the closing weeks of the season, with 11 rounds remaining.

But Salah – Liverpool’s top goalscorer with 23 league strikes this season – says the Reds cannot afford to be the team that misses out.

“We must finish in the top four, it is not optional, we have to work hard and fight for it,” Salah told Sky Sports.

“We have fantastic players, manager and fans, everyone deserves it.”

Egypt international Salah has been linked with a move to Real Madrid or Bayern Munich at the end of the season, having thrived at Anfield after joining from Roma in June.

But the 25-year-old, christened the “Egyptian King” in a song sung by supporters, says he is settled on Merseyside.

“The atmosphere is unbelievable,” said Salah. “When I was here four years ago, I played [for Chelsea] against Liverpool and I said, ‘One day, I have to play here.’ The fans are fantastic and that is what I can say.

“From day one, I feel the support and that they like me, so I have to give more to make them happy. Every day I see and feel that, even in the warm-up, so it is a fantastic atmosphere.

“I am happy to hear that every game [the supporters’ songs] and feel the love of the fans. I am happy about everything right now.

“Since I left the Premier League the first time, I wanted to come back. I love to play in the Premier League, I enjoy the football.

“I did not have a chance to play at Chelsea, but when I had the chance here, I am trying to show everyone my football. But I honestly learned a lot at Chelsea, it was not an easy time for me, but I am here now and happy about that.”

Salah credits Liverpool’s tactical fluidity under Klopp for his sensational goalscoring form, with only Spurs striker Harry Kane having scored more Premier League goals this season.

“We change the system every game, so sometimes I play second striker and sometimes I play on the right and sometimes I play on the left,” said Salah.

“So he [Klopp] helped me to improve myself and to do what I am doing now, so I am happy about that. I have the freedom to do whatever I want, but we are 11 players, so I have to defend, do my work, attack, defend, everything!

“I always start on the right, and we change during the game. Sometimes we play 4-4-1-1, 4-4-2 and I play second striker or I play striker. So it depends on the game and what the manager wants.”

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