Jurgen Klopp has admitted being put under pressure to sign Mo Salah by his scouting department after he initially feared the winger might be too skinny to succeed in the Premier League.
It is advice the Liverpool manager is delighted to have listened to with Salah having already scored 19 goals this season.
He is the member of his Fab Four — along with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino — he is most reluctant to rotate.
Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool paid Roma £34million for Salah in the summer because he had scored only twice in 19 games in a previous spell in England, as a 21-year-old at Chelsea in 2014.
But he has proved the bargain of the season and was the Premier League player of the month for November after scoring seven times last month.
Certainly, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe will be making special plans for the 25-year-old today with the Anfield star competing with Harry Kane for the league’s Golden Boot.
Team-mates are in awe of Salah’s pace, with Coutinho judging him the quickest player at the club. ‘He is so fast, it’s crazy,’ he said.
Salah never settled under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea but rediscovered his mojo at Fiorentina and Roma and Klopp finally decided he was strong enough physically and mentally to have another crack at the Premier League.
‘His speed is his speed, it doesn’t depend on which league he’s in,’ said Klopp. ‘Of course we had to look at a lot of his games to see about other parts, physicality, being strong enough for challenges. But you see now, he is. He is a naturally fit player.
‘If you watch him only on television he looks quite skinny. The scouting department did a fantastic job around him. It was 100 per cent, he is ready, he is ready. At one point, we were all sure he was ready. And that’s how it looks now.’
Klopp says there are reasons we are seeing a different Salah this time. ‘He was a kid. Sometimes it takes time for a player to have a situation where everybody is helping him, and leaving him on the pitch even if he are not at his best. He has this time.’
Klopp is under pressure after two home draws but tried to turn the tables on Howe’s team, who are 16th. ‘Bournemouth are under pressure, of course,’ he said.