football

Paul Merson says: Liverpool would rather lose Mohamed Salah than 'priceless' Jurgen Klopp

Paul Merson says Jurgen Klopp is so important to Liverpool that the club would rather lose Mohamed Salah than the German.

Liverpool began the long goodbye to Klopp in style as Virgil van Dijk's header in the final moments of extra-time secured Carabao Cup glory for a threadbare Reds side at Wembley, an achievement the German described as the most special of his career.

Klopp was without 10 first-team players at kick-off and that increased to 11 by the 28th minute as Ryan Gravenberch was carried off on a stretcher, adding to the significant absences of Salah, Darwin Nunez, Dominik Szoboszlai, Diogo Jota, Curtis Jones and Trent Alexander-Arnold, as well as goalkeeper Alisson.

Only five Liverpool players from their 4-1 win over Chelsea at Anfield less than four weeks ago started at Wembley, while the bench contained six academy graduates aged 21 and under. When the match finished, 18-year-old Jayden Danns, 19-year-olds James McConnell and Bobby Clark as well as Harvey Elliott (20) and Jarell Quansah (21) were out on the field for Liverpool. Conor Bradley (20) had started in defence.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Merson described Klopp as "priceless" to Liverpool and believes if they had a choice, they'd rather keep him at the club beyond the end of the season over talisman Salah, who has scored 205 goals for club and helped them win seven major honours since joining in 2017 from Roma.

If you are Liverpool, you'd rather lose Salah than Klopp.

Don't get me wrong, Salah is one of the best players in the world. He's arguably the best in his position.

However, you just have to see what happened at Wembley on Sunday to see Klopp's importance to Liverpool. He's phenomenal.

I was at Wembley and said right after the final whistle that it was the greatest achievement Klopp has ever had in football. Later on, he came out and said it.

You can't have anything but massive respect for Klopp.

He doesn't care about himself at all. He is just worried about the football club and his team. That is all he is worried about. Having a manager that is only concerned about the club, that is priceless.

To put those kids on at Wembley in a cup final against Chelsea, who have a World Cup winner and £100m-plus players, for Klopp to have done what he did and trust those kids, it was amazing. It was mind-blowing.

No other manager would have done it. He wasn't worried about winning. It wasn't about him at all and he just put his full belief in those kids.

That will be massive for those young players and every one of them was outstanding. They all contributed to that win.

Some of those players have only played one or two games and now they are being thrown in at Wembley in a final.

Klopp trusts them and now, for them to have won a trophy, played at Wembley and had that experience, it's up to them to go and kick on.

The problem for them is that Klopp isn't going to be at Anfield next season. That's the biggest shame for those youngsters.

He believes in those players, but a new manager will come in and he may not trust them. How many managers do you see give chances to kids? Not many.

You see it at Chelsea. They don't trust their young players. They have gone out and spent £1bn on players when their best players are actually from the academy in Conor Gallagher and Levi Colwill.

I'm sure there will be talk around whether Liverpool can or will try to persuade Klopp to stay on at Anfield.

However, he has earned enough respect from everyone associated with that club for them not to do that.

He has made his decision and that will be respected.

The admiration and respect for him is too much.

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