Jurgen Klopp has explained his controversial decision to substitute Mohamed Salah during Liverpool's 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea on Thursday, saying the forward simply 'didn't look fresh'.
Salah has been Liverpool's player of the season so far, topping the Premier League scoring charts and netting 24 goals in all competition despite the Reds' desperate form.
It was a surprise, then, when he was sacrificed on the hour mark, as Klopp's team trailed to Mason Mount's stunning first-half effort.
Salah made way for Diogo Jota, and didn't appear pleased as he took to the bench. There has been some fallout to the decision - Klopp has been criticised for bringing off one of his most potent attacking threats, while the Egyptian's agent Ramy Abbas Issa got people talking with a tweet moments after Salah was replaced.
Yeah, it was literally a full stop.
Klopp said the decision was made to protect his player, who simply didn't look 'fresh' from the German's perspective.
“I’m happy when the boys look disappointed, that’s not a problem. I didn’t see it from Mo," he said, as quoted by The Guardian.
"The reason for the sub was he looked like he felt the intensity and I didn’t want to risk him. That’s all.
"It’s really rare and usually Mo looks surprisingly fresh until the end. I thought he didn’t look fresh any more. The last two or three years have nothing to do with that.”
Journalist Matt Critchley explained that Klopp was screaming at Salah to track back and help out defensively beforehand, but wasn't getting the response he wanted from his top scorer.
Liverpool as a whole were poor as they fell to yet another Anfield defeat, but there was a particular lethargy to Salah's play, as he lacked his usual intensity and eagerness to do the hard yards in order to pull his team out of the mire.
The Reds will aim to end their poor home run against Fulham on Sunday, before looking to finish the job against RB Leipzig in the Champions League three days later.