Mohamed Salah has said he feels “special motivation” for Liverpool’s first Champions League encounter with Real Madrid since their defeat in the 2018 final.
Next Tuesday’s quarter-final pits Liverpool against Zinedine Zidane’s side for the first time since Kyiv, where Sergio Ramos’s grab on Salah, Loris Karius’s mistakes and Gareth Bale’s stunning overhead kick shaped a highly eventful game.
In an interview with Marca, Salah played down talk of avenging Ramos over the incident that forced him out of the 2018 final with a shoulder injury. But he admitted the events of that night had not been forgotten.
Liverpool’s leading goalscorer said: “Let’s just say that I have special motivation to win the tie and go through to the semi-finals. What’s going to happen now isn’t going to change the result of the final in Kyiv. That’s in the past.”
On facing Madrid’s captain for the first time since Kyiv, Salah claimed: “That game is in the past, so I don’t think about it. I’m thinking about the team. Everyone is focused on their team and everyone wants to win. That’s it.”
Salah admitted Liverpool’s poor defence of the Premier League title, which he attributes to misfortune and the fact that “lots of things happened at once”, had heightened the determination within Jürgen Klopp’s squad to transform their campaign with another Champions League triumph in Istanbul.
The Egypt international, giving his second interview to a Spanish sports daily this season, was inevitably asked about leaving Liverpool and moving to La Liga in the future. “I hope to be able to play for many more years. Why not?” he replied. “No one knows what’s going to happen in the future, so maybe one day, yes.”
As for the prospect of moving this summer, he added: “It’s not up to me. We’ll see what happens but I prefer not to talk about that now.”
RB Leipzig, meanwhile, have claimed the sale of Ibrahima Konaté is “not an option” this summer after the France Under-21s defender was linked with a move to Anfield. Liverpool have drawn up a shortlist of central defensive targets following this season’s damaging injury problems and Konaté, who has a release clause of about £34m, is believed to be among them.
But the Leipzig sporting director, Markus Krösche, insists the 21-year-old, under contract until 2023, will not be following the Bayern Munich-bound Dayot Upamecano out of the club.
“I think that this is not an option for Ibu,” said Krosche. “He has a long contract with us and he knows what we mean to him and what he means to us. He was unlucky last year as he had a long-term injury but this year he is developing well and he is an extremely important player that has a lot of potential. We want to help him to develop further, and we play in Europe and have a very good team, so I don’t see a reason for him to leave us.”