LIVERPOOL, England — Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool should be in no mood to celebrate this season’s achievements ahead of the final Premier League game of the campaign.
Liverpool need a point at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
But in the build-up to Anfield encounter, Liverpool held their annual end-of-season awards on Thursday night, with Mohamed Salah in attendance before he jetted off to London to pick up his Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year crown.
“He [Salah] deserved all the awards he got, but I am absolutely not in the mood to praise anybody for the last few months. I am really in the mood to think about Sunday,” Klopp told a news conference on Friday.
“Everything that he did was fantastic, otherwise he couldn’t have scored that many goals and played like he played. But it’s all about Sunday. It’s difficult for a player, there are so many challenges constantly.
“The next challenge [for Salah] was from the journalists. I know it’s a very important award, so they take him to London on Thursday before our last game to celebrate, to party. We are not partying, the journalists should come here to give the award.
“You want to be really focused. The season is ended for most teams in the league, but not us. We have to work. Now it’s about playing the game Sunday.”
If Liverpool fail to finish in the Premier League top four on Sunday, they can still qualify for next season’s Champions League by beating Real Madrid in this year’s UCL final in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26.
“We need to be completely focused,” Klopp added. “Yesterday, we had our LFC awards — good timing!
“But a lot of people wished me luck for the 26th, while maybe two or three people said good luck for Sunday. That’s the next challenge, the boys face so many of them and we need to show it again. It’s a big one.
“There are many moments where people can be happy or proud of this team, this club, but on Sunday we all have to deliver again, all of us.
“It’s not a farewell thing on Sunday, it’s a proper competition against a good football team — and having no pressure can be very helpful. We will try everything to make sure we play Champions League next season.”
Meanwhile, Klopp is hopeful that Adam Lallana can play some part against Brighton, who are safe from relegation after last Friday’s victory over Manchester United.
Lallana has only made 13 appearances — just three of them starts — this term due to numerous injuries, but the midfielder, who turned 30 on Thursday, has completed a full week of training.
“Long time without football, but Adam is Adam so he looks quite OK,” Klopp said. “The perfect thing now would be to have minutes, we will see if we have the opportunity to do that. But as fit as he can be, I would say.”
However, Emre Can continues to be sidelined with his back injury, while there is no fresh news on his future as his Liverpool contract expires at the end of the season.
“Nothing new, in both parts,” Klopp said. “Still treatment, still rehab. That’s it. You would have known if we’d have agreed anything. It’s all like it was before.”
Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.