Jurgen Klopp says next week’s Champions League second leg clash against Real Madrid had no influence on his decision drop Sadio Mane against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Senegalese forward has played a key role in his side’s successes over the last two campaigns, but has struggled to maintain the high standards he has set for himself.
Indeed, Mane has scored only one goal in his last eight games in all competitions and the return to form and fitness of Diogo Jota has forced Klopp’s hand.
Jota hit the ground running after his summer transfer move from Wolves but missed three months with an injury.
The Portugal international scored a brace coming off the bench in last week’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal and was rewarded with a place in the starting XI.
They will look to overturn a 3-1 deficit when they entertain Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday, but Klopp was adamant Mane’s demotion had nothing to do with giving the player a rest before that fixture.
Asked if the match against Real played a part in his selection, Klopp said: ‘No, not it’s pure coincidence that you brought up at that moment.
‘Well not you personally, but the media brought up Sadio didn’t score for so many games.
‘It’s a situation you have a look at who is performing how and stuff like this, how does it work together? Where can Bobby play and Mo obviously and Diogo, what can they do?
‘How can we set-up our midfield what is the right level of aggression? But also football-wise we are playing in the right spaces, all these kind of things that is what you consider when you think about the line-up. ‘I didn’t have to do it (drop Mane) but today I did it.’