Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp: Mohamed Salah winning Player of the Year 'a nice boost' for his career
LIVERPOOL, England -- Jurgen Klopp said on Monday that Mohamed Salah winning the PFA Player of the Year award will be a "nice boost" for the player, but stressed that the Egypt international is very much aware that the season is not over yet ahead of Liverpool's Champions League semifinal with Roma.
Salah's record-breaking Liverpool debut season, which was seen him score 41 goals in 46 appearances so far in all competitions, was recognised by his peers at an awards ceremony in London on Sunday as he beat Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane to the prize.
The 25-year-old returned to Liverpool on Monday for final preparations ahead of Tuesday's first leg with Roma -- the club he left in the summer to join Liverpool.
"I'm really happy for him," Klopp said at a news conference. "He can be really proud of that. It's a fantastic achievement. I think if all the other players vote for you, [then] that means the most to all players.
"I didn't speak to him after because he was obviously in London yesterday, but he will be back today and I can tell him what I want to tell him face to face."
"It's great but he knows the season is not finished so far. [There are] a lot of things to come. I'm sure it's a nice boost for him. I really have to say in a season like this when Kevin De Bruyne plays a season like he played, it makes it even more special.
"I would have to say if anybody else would have voted, not the players, then I think it's different. But the players know how difficult it is to score that many goals and to be involved in that many goals. I really think it's well deserved."
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson attended the PFA awards on Sunday night at the Salah's request, as he wanted to share the honour with his teammates.
As Liverpool look to reach their first Champions League final in 11 years, Henderson is confident that Salah wants to create history at Anfield and will be a Liverpool player for the long-term future.
"He's a fantastic player and up there with the world's best," Henderson said. "There will be other clubs that want to maybe take him away. But I feel as though he's in a great place, with a great set of lads, great team and a great manager going in the right direction.
"We want to create our history, win things here. I think that will be very special and I'm sure Mo will want to be part of that. He's a very big part of it now and I'm sure he will be for many years to come."
Salah had two seasons at Roma after joining from Chelsea at the start of 2015-16 after having spent part of the previous season on loan at Fiorentina.
"It's actually a normal game, but yes, it feels quite special because you know much more about the other than you usually know," Klopp said about Salah facing his former side. "You are more interested in the other team than you usually are because I'm pretty sure Mo follows the whole season of Roma.
"He had a fantastic time there. He became the player who we have now here -- big, big credit to all the staff and players at Roma because they are all part of his development.
"I'm pretty sure Italian defenders are famous for not having friendly games, so I think Mo will feel pretty early that they are not his teammates anymore and then he can strike back in a football way."
Liverpool reached the semifinals of the Champions League by beating Premier League champions Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate, and Roma dramatically overturned a 4-1 deficit from the first leg of their quarterfinal tie with Barcelona to go through on away goals.
Klopp believes Liverpool and Roma both deserve their place in the semifinals and also share similarities at being underdogs in Europe and in their respective domestic leagues.
"I'm really not interested in what people think about the game, but I do understand probably a lot of people thought this semifinal would usually have been Barcelona against Manchester City," Klopp said.
"But it's not because it's football. Roma made it possible and we are here now as well. Both teams deserve it and that's really true.
"I came up the stairs at Manchester City and somebody told me that Rome won 3-0. I thought in the first second that it was not possible because the opponent is Barcelona. I love that game because it is possible.
"We did something similar at City. They played an outstanding season, but in these two games we deserved to win. Now we play against each other and maybe our situation is similar in the league.
"You have Juventus, Napoli, we have City, [Manchester] United -- big challenges, big competitors. That's all not important because, first of all, it's really important that we can enjoy our own football."
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.