Klopp Defends Stance On FA Cup Replays

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures from the sidelines during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Shrewsbury Town and Liverpool at the Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium in Shrewsbury, north-west of Birmingham in England on January 26, 2020.  AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is adamant he has to take a stand over the clash between the midwinter break and FA Cup replays or nothing will ever change.

The German boss has drawn criticism for announcing that neither he nor his first-team players will be present for the fourth-round replay at home to Shrewsbury next week as it falls within their scheduled Premier League break.

Instead, the club will send out a youth team led by Under-23s coach Neil Critchley.

“If we react how we always react and find a way to do it, then nothing will change,” Klopp said. “I have to make decisions that aren’t popular, based on the situation we are in.

“Because we plan long-term I cannot plan when there is a real decisive period coming up. I decided three weeks ago we would have a mid-season break based on a letter we got in April 2019.

“The FA tried to move games to midweek to decrease the intense period. Whoever was involved in that — may be from us — they forgot to say no.”

Liverpool, who play West Ham in the Premier League on Wednesday, are closing in on their first English top-flight title for 30 years and are also through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

A Liverpool side led by Critchley lost 5-0 to Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-final in December while the first team competed in the Club World Cup in Qatar, a competition they went on to win.

 Fixture frustration 

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he could understand Klopp’s frustration and still regrets United’s decision to pull out of the competition 20 years ago.

Solskjaer, whose side beat Tranmere 6-0 on Sunday to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup, was part of the United squad that pulled out of the tournament in 2000 to play in the FIFA Club World Championship.

“I think we all regret maybe not going for it in 2000 when we went to the World Club tournament in Brazil and it’s never nice not to be participating,” said the United boss.

“It’s supposed to be a break and if we’re going to help the English clubs, they need a break.

“But that’s up to Jurgen and Liverpool to make decisions. Jose (Mourinho) and Tottenham, they’ve got a replay. We’re just happy we didn’t get a replay ourselves because it was playing on our mind.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola supported Klopp’s stance, saying: “We accept the schedules and the competitions, games every two or three days, but don’t tell the managers which players to pick.”

Klopp said forward Sadio Mane would likely only miss another two matches after tearing a muscle in last week’s match against Wolves.

“Sadio will not be involved for West Ham and probably not Southampton,” said the Liverpool boss.

“After that, he will be back on track. He has a small muscle tear which is serious enough. We were lucky with it, though, it wasn’t too serious.”

AFP

Liverpool Not Selling Any Player In January, Says Klopp

 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has no intention of allowing any of his players to leave the club in the January transfer window as he closes in on the Premier League title.

Klopp’s side are 13 points clear of defending champions Manchester City with two matches in hand and look certain to be crowned English champions for the first time since 1990.

Unbeaten Liverpool face Wolves away on Thursday, seeking their 22nd win out of 23 Premier League matches this season.

Sevilla and Roma have made tentative approaches regarding a loan deal for Xherdan Shaqiri, who is currently unfit, but Klopp said there was no plan for any departures.

“We had the majority of December and January with a bench full of kids,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference. “Wonderful kids, but kids, so how could we think about giving a player to anybody? I don’t understand that.

“It’s not about Shaq, it’s about pretty much everybody. We just have to keep them for sorting our situation and not the situation for different clubs.”

Klopp said despite his team’s rampant form, they could still get better, highlighting the need for better concentration.

“There’s a lot of space for improvement,” he said. “What can we do in situations like that (the 2-0 win against Manchester United on Sunday)? How can we help ourselves? How lively can we stay even without creating constantly?”

“We need to find a common way in these situations to still dominate the game in a slightly different manner,” he added.

Klopp hailed goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who provided an assist for Mohamed Salah in the dying seconds of the match at Anfield.

The Brazil international has not conceded a goal in the Premier League since late November and Klopp said he had “exceeded expectations” since joining the club in 2018.

“As a goalkeeper, we knew what we were getting,” said the Liverpool boss. “OK, yes he has made steps which are normal in his life and in the training he gets. As a person, he has exceeded expectations. He’s an outstanding guy.”

“We knew we were getting a really good goalkeeper,” Klopp added. “His character is calm and it helps us a lot. His goalkeeping techniques improve, making the difficult things look easy but you have to stay like this.

“With goalkeepers, you make one little mistake and the ball is in the goal. That is the life of goalkeepers.”

Liverpool Hit By Multiple Injuries Ahead Of Everton Clash

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp sends on Liverpool’s Belgium striker Divock Origi during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sheffield United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 2, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he has some tough decisions to make ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup meeting with Everton after the injury toll mounted for the Premier League leaders.

Midfielder Naby Keita became the latest player to be added to the injured list, having sustained a groin problem before Thursday’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United, which restored Liverpool’s 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

With defenders Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne, midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and forward Rhian Brewster all out, Klopp finds himself down to just 12 senior outfield players, plus new signing Takumi Minamino and a number of youth team members for the Merseyside derby.

“I won’t tell Carlo Ancelotti my line-up, but I will do what I think is right to do,” said Klopp, who fielded a youth team in the League Cup quarter-final defeat at Aston Villa last month as his senior side were in Qatar winning the Club World Cup.

“Some things I can decide by myself, and some things the medical department will tell me.

“I don’t know what the line-up will be at the moment, but it will be the best possible for us at the moment.

“I’m pretty sure Carlo won’t make a lot of changes. He has started already really well and this is an opportunity for Everton to win at Anfield for the first time in a few years.”

Everton, who suffered their first defeat under new manager Ancelotti at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday, have not beaten Liverpool at Anfield since 1999.

Everton ‘opportunity’

Ancelotti, an FA Cup winner with Chelsea in 2010, on Friday urged his players to seize a “fantastic opportunity” in the third-round tie.

“It is a fantastic challenge but also a fantastic opportunity,” said the Italian, who is the only manager to get the better of Klopp this season.

“We are going to play against the best team in this moment, they are world champions so congratulations to them, but this is a fantastic challenge for us.”

Ancelotti guided Napoli to a 2-0 Champions League victory over Liverpool in September and took a point from a 1-1 draw at Anfield in November before he was sacked by the Italian club.

Asked the secret to beating Klopp, the 60-year-old offered a shrug and a smile. “Score more goals,” he said.

“Everyone knows how Liverpool play,” he added. “They are a fantastic team, fantastic on the counter-attack, fantastic in transition and in recovery of the ball and quick attacking. You have to do the perfect game to beat them.

“You cannot defend for 90 minutes and we do not want to defend for 90 minutes. We want to have the possibility to play our football.”

AFP

Liverpool’s ‘Brilliant’ 2019 Just A Building Block For Klopp

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp takes part in a press conference at the training ground on the eve of a UEFA Champions league quarter final football match against Porto on April 8, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists the European champions must build on a “brilliant” 2019 to turn a 13-point lead at the top of the table into a first Premier League title in 30 years.

Klopp’s men were not at their flowing best and needed the help of two VAR reviews to continue their relentless march towards the title with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday.

Liverpool have now won 18 of their first 19 league games of the season and lost just once in the calendar year in the league, on top of winning the Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

“2019 was brilliant but it’s not important because we count seasons, not years, so the 2019/20 season is not over,” said Klopp.

“We are halfway there, we still have 19 games to play and probably 18 or 19 of them will be like this tonight, for different reasons.

“Who cares about points in December? We just created a basis which we will work with from now on, that’s all.”

Fuming at VAR

Wolves were angry even before the VAR controversies as the Premier League Christmas scheduling meant they travelled to Anfield just 45 hours after a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester City.

In the match they were left fuming at the two calls that went against them in quick succession towards the end of the first half.

Mane swept home his 14th goal of the season from Lallana’s knockdown with his shoulder and referee Anthony Taylor’s initial decision was overturned.

However, Wolves were unhappy that another claim for handball against Virgil van Dijk earlier in the move was not checked.

Wolves’ frustration was compounded in first-half stoppage time when Pedro Neto’s equaliser was ruled out.

Jonny was adjudged to be offside by the tiniest of margins in the build-up to add to a number of Premier League goals over the past two days ruled out for the most marginal of offside calls.

“Anfield is amazing but they were celebrating a non-goal. It doesn’t make sense. The referee should sustain his decision,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

“The VAR referee is miles away taking decisions on a lot of things happening here. Who is inside the game? Who feels the intensity and the flow? The referee here.”

Nuno was booked among the Wolves protestations, but the Portuguese coach’s decision to start with top scorer Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore on the bench meant he had weapons up his sleeve come the second half.

Traore’s pace was unleashed on the hour mark and Jimenez followed shortly after, but only after Diogo Jota’s fierce strike forced Alisson Becker into a smart save.

The visitors had lost just once in their previous 14 league games to move into contention for a top-four finish and they did not go down without a fight in the final stages.

“If it would be easy to win that number of games a lot more teams would have done it,” added Klopp.

“It is not easy and you have to fight with all you have. Sometimes we have more and sometimes less and the boys do that all the time, so I couldn’t be more proud of what they did again. To get that result over the line is just impressive.”

Jimenez had the best chance to claim an equaliser, but was denied by a block from Joe Gomez before Joao Moutinho, Romain Saiss, Ruben Vinagre and Traore all fired off target.

Klopp Insists He Never Lost Faith In Firmino

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (R) embraces Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (L) as they celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Liverpool at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on December 26, 2019. Liverpool won the game 4-0. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he had never lost faith in Roberto Firmino when the Brazilian was worried by a lack of goals before scoring four in three matches including the Club World Cup final.

Firmino, known affectionately to Klopp as Bobby, met with Klopp after a worrying run of one goal in 16 appearances.

But the German told Firmino he was in the side for more than just his goals, since when he’s been on a spree.

FHe followed up his goals in the semi-final and final of the Club World Cup with a Boxing Day double in the Premier League leaders’ 4-0 rout of nearest challengers Leicester City.

Firmino’s goals against the Foxes led to an embrace with Klopp on the touchline at Leicester’s King Power Stadium.

“Journalists told me he hadn’t scored for a while, but the thing about Bobby is that I don’t think about scoring,” Klopp explained.

“I think about how important he is, so we had a little talk and I told him. For the first time he was a little bit concerned about that fact (he had not scored in so many games), and I told him I was not interested in that number.

“He is the connector for our team, he is so important for us. He is the only one who can play the position, and he plays the position in a very special way.

“He doesn’t have to come (for a hug) with every goal, but this time we had a little thing where, after being calm enough to leave him on the pitch in games that I never thought about (his lack of goals), he thought he would say thank you.”

Liverpool, bidding to be crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years, are 13 points clear at the top after thrashing Leicester.

They have now extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 35 matches, with Liverpool’s last loss in the top flight a 2-1 defeat by Manchester City on January 3.

AFP

Liverpool Target Premier League Trophies After Club World Cup Triumph

Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) lifts the trophy after winning the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup Final football match between England’s Liverpool and Brazil’s Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on December 21, 2019.
KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

Liverpool have made winning trophies a habit in 2019 and Jurgen Klopp’s side return to England and to their push for the Premier League title galvanised after being crowned world champions in Qatar on Saturday.

It is an honour the Anfield side had never before claimed but which is now theirs after Roberto Firmino’s extra-time goal secured a 1-0 victory over Flamengo in a hard-fought Club World Cup final in Doha.

The latest piece of silverware is Liverpool’s third in little over six months after they won the Champions League in June and began this season by winning the UEFA Supercup on penalties against Chelsea.

“The year 2019 for the club has been outstanding,” said defender Virgil van Dijk.

“But we shouldn’t be satisfied with it. We should keep going, keep striving for more, and keep wanting more trophies.”

READ ALSO: Liverpool Beat Flamengo To Win Club World Cup

Van Dijk returned against Flamengo after illness kept him out of the 2-1 semi-final victory against Monterrey and that determination to be back playing summed up Liverpool’s attitude towards the competition.

The Club World Cup is not held in the highest regard in Europe, coming in the middle of a busy club season.

That is in contrast to South America, with Flamengo’s huge support in Doha showing just how much Saturday’s game meant to them.

“It might have been different had we got beat, then maybe some people would have said we were wasting our time or whatever,” acknowledged Andy Robertson.

“But for us even if we did lose it was all worthwhile because we had a chance to win a trophy that the club had never won before.”

He added that “2019 has been incredible, we have won three trophies and hopefully in 2020 there is a couple more for us.”

Liverpool will continue their defence of the Champions League with a last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid in February, and host local rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round on January 5.

However, the Premier League is the one they really have in their sights as they seek a first English title since 1990.

Leicester Beaten

As well as the trophies in 2019, Klopp’s team have not lost a league game since their very first outing of the year, at Manchester City. They have won 25 and drawn one of their last 26 in the Premier League.

There was more good news for them on Saturday as nearest rivals Leicester City lost 3-1 at Manchester City, leaving Liverpool 10 points clear at the top with a game in hand.

Klopp’s squad have little time for celebrations, however, as they return to England to prepare to visit Leicester on Thursday.

But while a week in Qatar might have seemed like an unwanted distraction for some in a busy schedule, Klopp was keen to point out that his team have still played the same number of games as their challengers.

“If we hadn’t played here tonight we would have played at West Ham, so the same number of games, the same situation, and the difference is the climate, even if it was not as warm as probably Europeans would have expected at the moment,” said the German.

“It is still something we have to adapt to. But that is the only thing that is special, so it’s all good, and we need to make sure that we come home safely, and recover in the plane already, and then prepare the Leicester game.”

With several players already out, however, the downside was seeing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain go off hurt in the second half against Flamengo, and the midfielder may be set for another spell on the sidelines.

“When he was landing he got a kick and rolled over. It is far away from being perfect, but we will see if the ligament is only stretched, or ruptured partly,” Klopp said.

“It’s a big shadow again but that’s how it is in a contact sport.”

AFP

Liverpool Hopeful On Van Dijk Fitness For Club World Cup Final

 

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between FC Porto and Liverpool at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on April 17, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Virgil van Dijk will be fit to play in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against Flamengo after the Dutchman missed their semi-final.

“Virgil was part of training today so we will see how it looks at the end,” Klopp said at a press conference at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, where Saturday’s game will be played.

Van Dijk had played in every match this season for the Anfield club, with the exception of the League Cup, before sitting out Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Mexican side Monterrey.

With Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren also absent, Jordan Henderson dropped into central defence to partner Joe Gomez in that game.

Fabinho is also missing for the Premier League leaders, while Georginio Wijnaldum — who travelled to Qatar despite picking up an injury in last weekend’s win over Watford — again sat out training.

“We have no new injury concerns,” Klopp added. “We played on Wednesday and now it’s Friday so we are using each hour for recovery and then we will see who we can line up tomorrow.”

AFP

Jurgen Klopp Agrees New Deal With Liverpool Until 2024

Liverpool’s German head coach Juergen Klopp reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between RB Salzburg and Liverpool FC on December 10, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria. BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp has agreed a contract extension with Liverpool until 2024, the runaway Premier League leaders announced on Friday.

Klopp, who moved to Anfield in 2015, guided Liverpool to Champions League glory in June and they are currently eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.

“For me personally this is a statement of intent, one which is built on my knowledge of what we as a partnership have achieved so far and what is still there for us to achieve,” the 52-year-old Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.

“When I see the development of the club and the collaborative work that continues to take place, I feel my contribution can only grow.”

A statement from owners the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) said Liverpool had taken “giant strides in re-establishing themselves as one of world football’s powerhouses” under the German.

During Klopp’s first campaign at Anfield, Liverpool reached the finals of both the League Cup and Europa League but ended the season empty-handed.

They lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League final but regrouped and became European champions for a sixth time after a 2-0 win against Tottenham in Madrid this year.

Liverpool lost just one match in the Premier League last season, racking up 97 points — the best in the club’s history — but missed out on the title by a solitary point to Manchester City.

Premier League charge

So far this season, Klopp has overseen Liverpool’s surge to the top of the Premier League, where they currently sit eight points clear after 15 wins from their opening 16 matches.

They are chasing their first English top-flight title since 1990, and their 19th overall.

Klopp, who won two Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund, said success on the pitch was not the only measure of progress — he had also seen commitment from the owners.

“When the call came in autumn 2015, I felt we were perfect for each other. If anything, now I feel I underestimated that. It is only with a total belief that the collaboration remains totally complementary on both sides that I am able to make this commitment to 2024.

“If I didn’t I would not be re-signing. This club is in such a good place I couldn’t contemplate leaving.”

Assistant managers Peter Krawietz and Pepijn Lijnders have also agreed deals keeping them at the club until 2024.

Principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and FSG president Mike Gordon said in a joint statement: “We are absolutely delighted we have been able to reach an agreement with Jurgen, as well as Peter and Pep, on extending their time with the club.

“As we are sure our supporters would agree, it is truly wonderful news and we are all extremely thrilled, not only professionally, but personally too.”

Liverpool reached the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 2-0 win against Salzburg on Tuesday and will play in the Club World Cup in Qatar later this month.

AFP

I Never Doubted Keita’s Quality, Says Klopp

Liverpool’s Guinean midfielder Naby Keita plays the ball during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on December 7, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he has never doubted the quality of midfielder Naby Keita despite the Guinea international’s limited impact since his arrival at Anfield last year.

Keita has been confined to a bit-part role since his £52.75 million ($69 million) move from RB Leipzig in July 2018 and before Saturday had played just 14 minutes of Premier League football this season.

But the 24-year-old, whose Anfield career has been disrupted by injuries, gave a reminder of his ability with a goal and an assist on his first top-flight start of the campaign in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth.

Klopp, who has reassured Keita about his lack of first-team opportunities, admits the relentless form of his league leaders and a series of tight matches have made it difficult to give him minutes.

“Naby had injuries, the team is in really good shape, so then do you change?,” said Klopp.

“We are not flying, it’s not like we won all of the games 4-0, or 5-0, so we had to bring on a player who helps us with defending set-pieces.

“Then Naby is sitting outside thinking, ‘why don’t I play?’ I get all that. So we stayed in contact, we talked and we spoke a lot about it.”

Klopp said he never questioned the player’s quality.

“It was just unlucky and in life you need luck always,” he said. “He started (his Liverpool career) really well — everybody forgot that — then got injured. And again we had two really good seasons.”

Liverpool last lost a league game in early January but despite an eight-point lead over second-placed Leicester, Klopp is not getting carried away.

“I don’t know if it’s so special because we don’t think about it,” he said of the unbeaten run.

“We get confronted with our winning streak always after the game, that’s the only moment. From that moment on, nobody thinks about it.”

Klopp believes resting and rotating his players will be key to successfully negotiating a hectic December schedule, during which they are competing in multiple competitions.

“It was wonderful — maybe the best thing of the (Bournemouth) game — we didn’t have to use Sadio Mane,” said the German boss, whose team must avoid defeat against Salzburg on Tuesday to guarantee reaching the Champions League knockout stages.”

AFP

Liverpool Thrash Bournemouth Ahead Of Champions League Test

Liverpool’s English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain plays the ball during the English Premier League football match against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on December 7, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

 

Jurgen Klopp could hardly have asked for more as his Liverpool side eased their way to a comfortable 3-0 win at Bournemouth ahead of Tuesday’s decisive Champions League visit to RB Salzburg.

First-half goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita put the Reds in control before Mohamed Salah wrapped up the win early in the second half while a first clean sheet since September ensured there was no chance of a late scare.

Victory moved Klopp’s Premier League leaders 11 points clear of Leicester City, 24 hours before Brendan Rodgers’ team face Aston Villa, and added more pressure on Manchester City immediately before the Manchester derby.

It was the ideal preparation for the visit to Austria, where Liverpool need a point to guarantee their progress into the Champions League knockout stages.

Klopp made seven changes to the side that beat Everton 5-2 on Wednesday and the controlled manner of this victory meant his players were spared any unnecessary exertion before their European challenge.

And the manager could also draw satisfaction from the performance of Salah, who delivered the desired response after being withdrawn in the previous weekend’s unconvincing defeat of Brighton and rested for the Everton clash.

The forward provided an assist for Keita — impressive on his first Premier League start of the season — and tormented Bournemouth throughout.

The only flaw from Klopp’s point of view was that his side took time to get into their stride.

That all changed 10 minutes before the interval when the balance of the game shifted over the course of a minute, and ensured Liverpool could sign off their domestic duties in style.

– Bournemouth blow –

Nathan Ake, Bournemouth’s best defender up to that point, pulled up clutching his hamstring and it was clear the centre-back was unable to carry on.

The Dutch international was replaced by Jack Simpson, making his first Premier League appearance of the season, and with the Cherries yet to settle after being forced to reorganise, Liverpool forced the lead.

Jordan Henderson delivered a long ball from deep inside his own half into the path of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had surged forward into the space between centre-back Chris Mepham and right-back Simon Francis, and the England international directed the ball past Aaron Ramsdale with a controlled volley.

Up until that point Bournemouth had appeared just as capable of taking the lead as Klopp’s league leaders.

But the double blow of losing Ake and falling behind sapped belief from Eddie Howe’s side who remain without a league win since the start of November.

And Liverpool took full advantage, adding the second a minute before the break after a clever exchange between Salah and Keita.

Keita played the ball into the Egypt international and continued his run forward to collect Salah’s backheeled return and finish easily past Ramsdale.

Bournemouth’s English goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale dives as a free kick goes wide of the post during the English Premier League football match against Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on December 7, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

 

After an unconvincing start to the game, Klopp could be satisfied his side were perfectly placed to close out the game.

And their position was further strengthened when Keita repaid Salah’s earlier favour by setting up his team-mate for the 54th-minute third after collecting Simpson’s misplaced clearance.

Salah had threatened in the first half and this time he made no mistake, slipping the ball past Ramsdale.

There was little in the way of a response from the home side and Liverpool’s margin of victory would have been even greater but for the efforts of Ramsdale, who capped his afternoon with a fine save to deny Henderson’s free-kick in the final seconds.

AFP

Van Dijk Deserves Ballon d’Or, Says Klopp

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk and his wife Rike Nooitgedagt (L) arrive to attend the Ballon d’Or France Football 2019 ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on December 2, 2019.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Virgil van Dijk would have been a worthy winner of the Ballon d’Or but understands why Lionel Messi lifted it for a sixth time.

The Dutch captain came second to the Argentina forward despite playing a huge role as Liverpool won the Champions League last season, overcoming Messi’s Barcelona in the semi-final.

“I see it slightly different and a lot of people see it slightly different but that’s absolutely no problem,” said Klopp.

“Lionel Messi, I’ve said probably 500,000 times in my life already, is probably the best player I saw in my lifetime.

“But I cannot remember a more impressive season from a defender ever. Honestly. So it would have been right if Virg won it. I heard it was pretty close.”

On Wednesday, runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool host Everton in the 234th Merseyside derby, with the relegation-threatened Toffees looking to break a winless streak on the ground dating back to 1999.

Marco Silva’s position is under huge threat but while Klopp had sympathy for his counterpart he said he did not feel sorry for the Portuguese.

“Of course I have sympathy because I know how difficult the life of a manager can be,” he told his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“But the last thing Marco needs now is that I feel sorry for him — I don’t. But I am really on his side because I know about the job.”

Klopp ‘Not Worried’ Over Salah’s Fitness Ahead Of Napoli Match

A file photo of Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he has no concerns about Mohamed Salah’s fitness ahead of their Champions League clash with Napoli.

Salah was an unused substitute in the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday after missing training with an ankle problem.

“Mo Salah looks really good,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “I’m not worried about it.”

Klopp also provided an update on the fitness of defender Joel Matip, who has been sidelined with a knee injury.

“Joel is improving but is some time away. There will be a scan this week and then we will see how it is.”

Klopp said he had plans to cope with Liverpool’s fixture pile-up over the next few weeks.

Their involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, plus their progress in the League Cup, mean Liverpool have been forced to play two games within 24 hours of each other, over 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometres) apart in mid-December.

“We have plans for everything, as you can imagine, and we change them constantly. I have two smartphones and when one of them is ringing it is really rare it is good news,” said Klopp.

“You only get the messages when a player is not fine, so then we have to make new plans and we don’t know exactly how many players we’ll have to train.

“We know in the long term what we have to do, we know that’s all set. The athletic part of the sessions, we try to adapt to the specific situation of the players. The tactical things depend on the games we play.”

Victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s side on Wednesday would ensure defending champions Liverpool finish top of Group E with a game to spare but Klopp said he could not afford to look past the match.

Napoli are the only side to have beaten Liverpool this season but are currently seventh in Serie A.

“The biggest mistake we could make is that we have won it already and what would happen if we win it,” Klopp said.

“These things are not in our mind. Of course we try to win the game, it would be massive for us after the start we had. Napoli are a dangerous opponent.

“There are two weeks between tomorrow night and the Salzburg game (final match of the group) and we have three games in between. Why should I think about the Salzburg game now?”