Klopp considers Liverpool squad to be best he has worked with

The Reds boss tasted Bundesliga title wins and European success with Borussia Dortmund, but claims he never boasted his current depth of talent

Jurgen Klopp considers Liverpool’s star-studded class of 2017-18 to be the best squad he has ever worked with.

In a previous post at Borussia Dortmund, the German coach tasted Bundesliga title triumphs and reached a Champions League final.

He had the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan at his disposal, but claims he never boasted the squad depth he now has at Anfield.

Liverpool have competition for places across the board, with Klopp in the enviable position of being able to rotate as he sees fit without fear of depleting the quality in his starting XI.

He told the club’s official website on those at his disposal: “It’s really hard in the moment to make the squad.

“Wow, I’ve never had a situation like that with the quality of the players not being in the squad.

“They all have made really big steps. Dom Solanke was not in the squad but is in outstanding shape at the moment. Ragnar Klavan, unbelievable. Ben Woodburn makes steps and is really close to everything.

“It’s difficult, it’s getting more and more difficult, but that’s good for us of course.”

Among those to have further bolstered the Liverpool ranks over recent weeks is Danny Ings, with the England international back in contention following a frustrating run of injuries.

The 25-year-old made his Champions League debut off the bench in Liverpool’s 5-0 mauling of Porto in the first leg of their last-16 encounter and is being backed to figure prominently over the remainder of the campaign.

Klopp added: “It’s a wonderful story. Danny made it, he came on and it was nice to see.

“He needed time. A few months ago it was different, but a player like him when they come back they think ‘I am under pressure’ and they want to come in immediately and get game time.

“Danny went the hard way. He played a lot of games for the under-23s.

“That he is back now is very important for us and fantastic for him.”

Source: www.goal.com

Liverpool reclaim Champions League record after just one day

Pep Guardiola’s men set a record on Tuesday that lasted just 24 hours before it was topped by Jurgen Klopp’s high-flying Reds

Manchester City set a Champions League record with their 4-0 thrashing of Basel on Tuesday. It lasted one day.

The four-goal win for Pep Guardiola’s side was the largest margin of victory ever for an English team away from home in the Champions League knockout rounds.

But on Wednesday, Liverpool did them one better with a stunning 5-0 victory at Porto in the first leg of a Champions League last-16 tie.

Jurgen Klopp’s side breezed to the win at the Estadio do Dragao, behind the strength of a hat-trick from Sadio Mane – the fourth Liverpool player to score a Champions League treble (Michael Owen, Yossi Benayoun and Philippe Coutinho are the others).

The Reds also became the first English side to score five goals in an away Champions League knockout match.

The five-goal margin tied Liverpool for the largest away Champions League knockout win for any side, levelling Bayern Munich (5-0 over Sporting in 2009) and Real Madrid (6-1 over Schalke in 2014).

Liverpool have scored more goals (28) than any other side in the Champions League so far in 2017-18.

The Reds will have the chance to add to that total in the second leg against Porto on March 6, with progress into the last eight of the tournament all but assured.

Jurgen Klopp’s side return to Premier League action on Saturday with a match against West Ham. 

Salah can be Liverpool’s next Fowler or Owen – McManaman

The Egyptian forward has been a revelation since arriving at Anfield and is now being backed to become a regular contributor of 25-plus goals

Mohamed Salah is capable of emulating Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen at Liverpool by becoming a 25-goal-season forward, says Steve McManaman.

The Egypt international has already bettered that return this season, with 28 goals plundered across all competitions.

Records have been sent tumbling by the 25-year-old, with an immediate return offered on the £36.9 million investment in his talent.

Plaudits have rained down on Salah as a result, and a man who operates from a wide berth rather than a central striking role is now being backed to join an elite group of forwards at Anfield.

Former Reds star McManaman told the club’s official website: “He looks like he will score goals for a long time.

“You looked at Harry Kane three years ago and you thought, ‘wow, he’s scored 25 this year’ and you always expected him to go on the following year and score another 25 because he is one of those centre-forwards.

“It was like when Robbie [Fowler] played or Michael [Owen]; you always expected them every single year – because of the movement and the goals they scored – to score another 25, no problem.

“And he [Salah] looks as if he will do it every single year now. If he keeps on settling in and improving, you fancy him to score all the time.

“Every single game he just seems to be scoring and surprising everyone, and even when he is missing chances he is in the right position.”

Of Salah’s impressive haul this season, 21 of his goals have come in English top-flight competition.

He has become the fastest man to hit 20 Premier League goals for the Reds in a single campaign, and there is the promise of more to come as he continues to battle with Tottenham’s Harry Kane for the Golden Boot.

I miss Coutinho – Salah on Brazilian’s switch to Barcelona

The duo starred in the Kops’ Fab Four, but for a short while as the Brazil international got his dream transfer to the Camp Nou

Mohamed Salah has revealed that he misses his friend and former Liverpool teammate, Philippe Coutinho following his big-money move to Barcelona in January.

Salah who was signed from Roma prior to the 2017-18 season struck a good relationship with the Brazil international, whom at the back of a disappointing summer where he was denied a move to the Catalan giants continued churning out stellar performances – in tandem with the former Chelsea star, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

But a club-record £142 million deal was agreed for the ex-Inter Milan player to transfer to the Spanish giants in the winter transfer window.

And the Egypt winger, proud to have been on the same team with him, admitted that he misses his friend.

“I miss him anyway!” Salah told Marca .

“He was my friend, a very nice guy. I wish him all the best in Barcelona because he is an incredible player, with a lot of quality.

“As a person, he’s very calm. I’m proud to have played by his side.”

While Coutinho has not set the Spanish League alight as expected, his friend, Salah is still enjoying the rich vein of form he was before he left Anfield.

The 25-year-old’s brace in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday took him to 21 goals in 25 English Premier League appearances this season.

Kane hits back at Van Dijk over dive accusation

The Tottenham striker went down in the late stages of the clash with Liverpool to earn a spot-kick and dismissed criticism from the defender

Harry Kane has rejected Virgil van Dijk’s claim that he dived to win a penalty in Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs were awarded two penalties at Anfield, when Kane went down in the box under a challenge from goalkeeper Loris Karius in the 87th minute and for a Van Dijk foul on Erik Lamela deep into injury time.

Although Kane missed his first attempt from the spot, his second sealed a point for his side and took his Premier League tally up to 100 goals in his career and 22 for the season.

But the 24-year-old was criticised afterwards by Reds defender Van Dijk, who insisted Kane dived to win the first penalty and that the second was undeserved, too.

The England international dismissed the notion, however, saying he was definitely fouled and assistant referee Eddie Smart was correct to flag for the trip on Lamela later on.

“Yeah. [Karius] has dived, he has got in the way and I’m a player, I’m not going to jump out of the way because it’s football,” Kane said of the first penalty incident.

“I’ve definitely felt contact and I’ve gone down. For Lamela’s one, I thought the linesman showed amazing character to give that because a lot happened for the first one about the linesman so to give that penalty was massive and it was a penalty.

“It was a roller coaster of emotions. Obviously getting the first penalty you are thinking ‘I’m going to score the winner’ and then miss it and then it goes down the other end. I’ve got the team down and get another one (penalty) and now I’ve got to step up again. I was delighted to score it and get my 100th goal and delighted to get something out of the game, which I thought we deserved.”

The striker was disappointed to see his initial attempt saved by the home side’s goalkeeper, but there was “never a doubt” that he would convert his next shot.

“The first one was essentially what I wanted to do, go down the middle,” he added. “I have a routine, I went through it and the keeper just stood there and saved it.

“Sometimes that happens so as a striker you just have to deal with it and hope the next one will come soon. Thankfully it did and I was able to put the second one away.”

After reaching another milestone, Kane is already looking to complete another century of goals as he aims to continue his development and become one of the best in the world.

“That has to be the aim – and hopefully quicker than I got to 100,” he said.

“It is nice, I am going to enjoy the moment, but let’s see how many I can get this year and go from there.

“Hopefully I can get better and better. I am 24 years old, that’s not young but it’s not old so I’ve still got a lot of learning to do. I feel I am getting more experience year by year and I feel I am getting stronger and more physical and hopefully that just continues. I will always keep trying to work hard and get better and hopefully that will be the case.

“That is what separates good players from great players: can you do it consistently year after year? Can you get better and better when people don’t expect you to? That’s what I’ve done so far and that is what I will continue to strive to do. That is always my mindset to never let up. It is a short career and I’ll try to do as much as I can in it.”

Valverde: Coutinho could make his Barcelona debut next week

Philippe Coutinho may make his Barcelona debut against former club Espanyol in next week’s Copa del Rey second leg at the Nou Camp.

Barcelona finally brought one of the biggest transfer sagas over much of the past year to an end earlier this month after agreeing to pay a club-record £142million fee to Liverpool for the Brazilian playmaker.

A thigh injury sustained prior to his move has kept Coutinho sidelined but he could make his Barcelona bow against the club for whom he featured 16 times while on loan from Inter Milan for a few months in 2012.

Espanyol hold a surprise 1-0 lead from Wednesday’s first leg but Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde, while hoping to include Coutinho in his matchday squad for the first time, is hesitant to ink in the 25-year-old’s name for Thursday’s return fixture.

He said in quotes published on AS: “I’m reluctant to put an exact date on a start for Coutinho, but the progress of the injury is very positive. He had a small muscular problem in his quadriceps which is a particularly sensitive zone when striking the ball with power, but I hope he’s soon with us.

“Thursday is possible and I hope that today he can train with the rest of the squad.”

Valverde has more pressing concerns as he and Barcelona switch their attentions back to LaLiga, with the Catalan giants nine points clear at the top of the standings before the latest round of fixtures.

Barcelona travel to Real Betis on Sunday hoping to stretch their winning sequence in the league to six matches.

Valverde said at his pre-match press conference: “The players won’t be distracted by the second leg against Espanyol next Thursday. Ultimately, LaLiga is the competition that they are always most strongly focused on.

“The idea is to keep this winning dynamic going and to do as well as we did in the first half of the season. But Betis will not be an easy opponent to start against.

“Betis like to get the ball into the opposition’s half, and try to dominate possession. So one of the keys to the game will be dealing with the pressure that they create. It’s going to be an interesting, difficult encounter.”

Betis have won three of their last four in the Spanish top flight to move up to eighth, a position which manager Quique Setien believes affords his side some comfort ahead of the visit of Barcelona.

He told the club’s official website: “It is true that we are at a time when we are all very even in the intermediate zone of the table, a victory or a defeat will raise many positions or take them away.

“Our situation right now is one of confidence and optimism, we are facing this game at a good time that will allow us to take on everything we do and hope with great confidence, we will be brave because we have to be.”

 Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk


Michael Owen reveals he cried all the way to the airport when he left Liverpool for Real Madrid

Ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen has described how he was in tears all the way to the airport when he left his former club.

The former England international made his professional debut for the Reds in 1997, graduating from the youth ranks to become one of the clubs best-loved forwards.

However when Spanish giants Real Madrid came knocking in 2004, Owen claims that he knew it was time to move on, but it wasn’t an easy decision.

Speaking to the Daily Mail , Owen said, “When Real Madrid asked me to join them in 2004, part of me was flattered and part of me was in turmoil.”

At the time, Madrid boasted a wealth of top players such as Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, and Owen’s England team-mate David Beckham.

Owen was into the final year of his contract with Liverpool, and found his first team appearances increasingly limited under new boss Rafa Benitez.

But despite the lure of moving to the Spanish capital, Owen says it was still a tough call to make.

“Who wouldn’t want to play with them? But my mind chopped and changed and my thought process was going back and forth.

Liverpool vs Manchester City

The big one has arrived.

The Manchester City bandwagon rolls into Anfield this afternoon, as Pep Guardiola’s high-fliers look to extend their remarkable unbeaten record.

A win or a draw would make it 23 games without defeat to start the campaign. City can extend their lead at the top of the Premier League today, but Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will arguably give them their sternest examination yet.

Liverpool won this fixture last season, and having been on the wrong end of a 5-0 shelling when the sides met at the Etihad back in September, revenge will be in the air this time around.

Can the Reds show there is life after Philippe Coutinho? Can Klopp get one over his old adversary? Will Guardiola’s men rise to the latest challenge?

Man United to Go Head-to-Head With Liverpool to Sign Christian Pulisic

The Reds were unsuccessful in their attempts to sign Pulisic in 2016, with Dortmund turning down an £11 million bid before the teenager signed a new long-term contract the following year.

Pulisic has gone on to establish himself as the focal point of the United States national team, and a first-team regular at the Westfalenstadion.

This has seen speculation over a move to Anfield fade, but with Philippe Coutinho leaving for Barcelona this month an as-yet-unnamed replacement has been mooted.

And speaking as part of The Totally Football Show on Monday, German football expert Rafa Honigstein, who has connections with both Dortmund and Liverpool, hinted at another bid for Pulisic.

However, he also believes Jurgen Klopp‘s former club will not be willing to sell.

Antonio Conte calm despite Chelsea missing out on Virgil van Dijk

The 26-year-old’s £75m switch from Southampton to Liverpool was agreed on December 27, with the Dutchman finally sealing his switch to Anfield at the start of the January transfer window.

Conte, who insisted his club would attempt to continue strengthening their squad in the current transfer window, admitted Chelsea worked hard to acquire Van Dijk.