Naby Keita set to return as Jürgen Klopp assesses 'different solutions' in midfield

NewsNaby Keita set to return as Jürgen Klopp assesses 'different solutions' in midfield

Published 12th August 2022
By Sam Williams

Jürgen Klopp confirmed Naby Keita is set to return for Liverpool’s meeting with Crystal Palace while assessing the midfield options at his disposal.

Illness meant Keita missed the Reds’ opening-day draw at Fulham last weekend, a match during which Thiago Alcantara sustained an injury. 

Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also sidelined, leading Klopp to be asked whether he is considering entering the transfer market to reinforce his squad.

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“So, I’m happy with the strength, size and quality of my squad but we have injuries, that’s how it is,” the manager said on Friday.

“Now it is a question of how long will players be out and stuff like this and there are different solutions for it. There are plenty I would say and one of them is the transfer market, but the transfer market only makes sense if you can bring in the right player. The right player, not a player.

“It’s easy to bring a player in and that doesn’t help even [for] a week. If there is the right player then it would make sense but we always actually would have done that from the first day of the transfer window. From the first day of the pre-season, we would have done it.

“But it’s just in some cases not possible and in other cases extremely difficult. That’s why you don’t have to think a lot about it. If something is not possible why should I then constantly think about it? ‘But if not we cannot exist…?’ We can. 

“So, all the other solutions are inside the squad. Yes, we have now in the moment definitely too many injuries. A couple of boys are coming back: Naby will be back for Monday and Kostas will train today for the first time so he might be back as well. That’s the situation. 

“I understand your questions, really, but on the other hand side I don’t understand them as well because if there would be the right solution for us we would have done it already. We are not stubborn or whatever and say, ‘No! No way, we don’t bring in anybody.’ 

“It’s just about the right thing to do and when people told me in the beginning of the season that we will lack a specific kind of midfielder, I didn’t understand that because if you search for this specific thing then you always lack something. 

“If you have technical players then you miss the fighters, if you have the fighters then you miss the technical [players], just to name two things. So, it was always like this: if there would be a right player and there would have been the opportunity, we would have done it, we would do it. 

“But I don’t see it because we had a lot of conversations already and it doesn’t look like something will happen.”

Harvey Elliott signed a new long-term contract with the club on Thursday and Klopp insisted that the teenager is firmly in his thoughts for selection on Monday.

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“Always. He always is, he’s a fantastic boy. Super player and came on and had a real impact, played a really good pre-season, very helpful and yeah, of course,” he stated.

Klopp was also questioned on whether he sees it that an available midfielder, such as Elliott, now needs to ‘step up’ to fill the void left by injuries.

He replied: “Everybody just has to make the next step in their development. That’s normal.

“Harvey played already at an incredible level, then he got injured. That’s it pretty much, played a good pre-season, all the games when he came on, he was really decisive. He came on against City, played a really good game, came on [at Fulham], played a really good game.

“So, does he have to ‘step up’? Yeah, but like all the others as well. And ‘filling the gap’? Actually, when you start with eight or nine midfielders, they all have the same chance. If one is out, is it then a gap, or is it just the situation?

“We have injuries but I expect from the boys that over the time that we work together and of course rather sooner than later they fulfil their potential. That’s what I am looking for and Harvey is on a good way, that’s how it is.

“Fabio didn’t even start, he is on a good way as well, that’s cool. Millie looks sharp when he comes on. Does he have to ‘step up’? He showed already a lot. Hendo played good in the No.6 when we moved him inside last year.

“So with the players we have there is still competition for positions. It’s just that if the boys need that to be at their best that would be new to me, to be honest. That we have to motivate them by telling them, ‘If you are not at your best then he will play.’ We never worked like this. 

“In training I expect them all to be at 100 per cent here [mentally] and then I make a decision about who is ready for this week and who might be ready for next week. It’s not about stepping up, it’s just about being the best version of yourself or getting close to that and that’s what all the boys try, as far as I see it at least.”

Published 12th August 2022