Jurgen Klopp believes beating Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne to the PFA Players' Player of the Year award shows just how "special" Mohamed Salah's debut Liverpool season has been.
De Bruyne had been considered the favourite for the award for much of the campaign given his remarkable form for runaway Premier League leaders City, scoring eight and setting up another 15.
But Salah ultimately pipped him to it on Sunday, with the Egyptian's incredible first season at Liverpool earning the respect and votes of his peers.
Signed from Roma in pre-season, Salah has equalled the Premier League record for goals in a single 38-game season with his haul of 31 and still has three games to surpass it.
But Klopp has demanded the Egypt star keeps his focus, as he prepares for a date with his former club Roma in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday.
Klopp has arrived #LFC— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 23, 2018
On PFA POTY Mohamed Salah: “It's fantastic, I’m really happy for him. It’s a fantastic achievement [but] the season is not finished yet. I really think it’s well deserved.”
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"Fantastic, really happy for him," Klopp told reporters at his news conference. "He can be really proud of that – a fantastic achievement. If all the other players vote for you it means the most to players.
"I didn’t speak to him after, but he will be back today. It's great, but the season is not finished so far. There are a lot of things to come, but I'm sure it's a nice boost for him.
"When Kevin De Bruyne plays a season like he plays, it makes it more special. The players know how difficult it is to score that many goals and be involved in that many, so I think it's well deserved."
Klopp was quick to credit Tuesday's opponents Roma for Salah's impact in England, highlighting the role they played in his development.
Though he also warned Salah to expect some rough treatment, hopeful the attacker can "strike back".
"It [changing club] is pretty normal in football," Klopp said. "Players and managers change club, like I did with Dortmund about two years ago.
"It's a normal game, but it feels quite special. You know more about the opposition than usual, and you're more interested in them than they usually are. I'm sure he follows them still.
Klopp on Salah playing against his former club: "It's pretty normal in football, players and managers change clubs - I had it when we played Dortmund. But yes it feels quite special." #LFC— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 23, 2018
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"It's a big, big credit to all the players and staff at Roma, because they're part of his development.
"I'm pretty sure Italian defenders are famous for not having friendly games. He will feel early in the game that they are not his team-mates any more, then he can strike back in a footballing way."
22. Januar 2019
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