Jurgen Klopp has seen Mohamed Salah hit 50 Premier League goals, but the Liverpool boss concedes he could have had even more if “I hadn’t played him on the right wing so often”.
The Egyptian forward, who landed the Golden Boot last season, reached a half-century of goals in the English top-flight during a dramatic meeting with Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Of that haul, 48 have come in the colours of Liverpool and two during a previous stint with Chelsea.
Just 72 games have been required to join an illustrious list of prolific marksmen, with only three players getting to a notable mark quicker.
Klopp admits he has been blown away by a player acquired from Roma in 2017 to fill a wide support role in the Reds attack, with the German joking that he has held the 26-year-old back at times.
He told reporters after seeing Salah bag a brace in a 4-3 win over Palace: “Exceptional achievement from a world class player.
“He made a few steps in the last couple of months, in the right direction!
“Wow, an outstanding number [5 goals in the Premier League].
“I heard the names of the other players who got there a bit quicker– Alan Shearer, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole – good strikers as well, eh.
“Maybe he would have scored more and earlier if I hadn’t played him on the right wing so often. My fault!
“But no, not bad. Helped us a lot. It’s a typical win-win situation. He benefits from the style of play, and the boys benefit of course from his scoring desire. It’s cool.”
Salah’s efforts proved crucial on his latest outing at Anfield, as he helped Liverpool to recover from a slow start.
Efforts from fellow members of a fearsome forward line were required though to stretch the Reds’ lead at the top of the table to seven points, with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane also getting in on the act in a fixture which saw Klopp’s side finish with 10 men following the dismissal of James Milner.
“Nobody should be surprised about the character of the boys. If something was really here before I came in, it was character,” added Klopp.
“I have known the boys since 2015 and I have found boys with outstanding character. The work rate has always been unbelievable and you have to mix that with a few other attributes. Confidence, self belief, it’s important, but the boys are ready to fight, that’s clear.
“It’s not the first time this season we had to do it, but today it was pretty special and I really liked it.
“It was not too easy for the crowd to get the first half, we did OK but you’re 1-0 down and I’m pretty sure a lot of people thought today was the day we would lose it. We were not like this, I told the boys we had to stay positive and we were not allowed to lose our nerve, there was no reason for it.
“We needed to improve a few things and do things again and again. Of course we had to protect the left wing extremely well, to win the ball back there, and the boys did it. You always need a bit of luck in football, but the boys deserved these three points in a very difficult game.”