EPL

Klopp not ruling out more Liverpool signings as impressive Elliott stakes his claim

By Sports Desk August 08, 2021

Jurgen Klopp could still add to his squad before the transfer window closes but insists Liverpool benefit from some advantages that money simply cannot buy.

The Reds have added Ibrahima Konate during the offseason, the centre-back joining from RB Leipzig to provide further competition at a position decimated by injuries last term.

There has been speculation Liverpool could look to add a midfielder, too – Florian Neuhaus and Saul Niguez are two names to be linked – while there are rumours of potential departures to reduce numbers.

However, other top-flight clubs have been busy, too. Both Manchester City and Manchester United have completed big-name signings, while Chelsea are reportedly close to completing a deal to get Romelu Lukaku from Inter.

Klopp made clear after the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday that further arrivals could be possible at Anfield, albeit the club has intangibles that can help them compete with their rivals.

"I'm very happy with the squad," Klopp said.

"That doesn't mean we don't look at the market. But as long as nothing happens, I'm more than happy with the squad I have, more than happy with the players I have.

"We have so many things which you can't sign: you cannot sign pressing, you cannot sign counter-pressing, you cannot sign atmosphere, you cannot sign togetherness, you can't sign the atmosphere we can create in the stadium, you can't sign Anfield, you can't sign our anthem, you can't sign a lot of things. And that's what we have to use, obviously.

"There are different approaches obviously out there and we have no influence on that. Our situation is like it is.

"We have a big squad and there might still be something happen until the end of the transfer window, but I can't say anything about that in the moment."

Klopp may have found an added dimension to his midfield from within: Harvey Elliott has done well in a central role during pre-season, the teenager taking his chance to impress after a hugely successful spell out on loan at Championship club Blackburn Rovers.

For the Liverpool boss, flexibility is key as he aims to get them challenging for the championship again.

On the possible role for Elliott, Klopp told the club's official website: "He can play different positions, there's absolutely no doubt about it.

"But in the pre-season, we wanted to see him just in a deeper role because for a young player you have to learn a lot of things when you are a bit more outside and you get the ball from time to time.

"We wanted to have him more involved. And I think he made a big step in this pre-season. If Harvey stays fit, then the football world can be really excited about that."

Liverpool's final friendly fixture sees them take on Osasuna at Anfield on Monday.

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    On the face of it, that may have seemed an unexpected response to a crushing win with a clean sheet, but Klopp was right to point to Liverpool offering up golden chances to their Anfield visitors.

    Goalkeeper Alisson saved well from Armando Broja and Adam Armstrong, and Liverpool were arguably flattered by their victory margin as they reached 39 goals from their opening 13 games of the Premier League campaign.

    In terms of expected goals, the metric that assesses the quality of a team's chances, Liverpool finished the game with an advantage of 2.67 to Southampton's 1.34. Those numbers indicate Liverpool impressively over-performed in terms of capitalising on opportunities, while Southampton should have done better.

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    Liverpool have now scored two or more goals in 17 consecutive games across all competitions, making them only the second ever English top-flight club to achieve this feat after Sunderland in 1927 (17).

    They could set an outright record on Wednesday in the derby against former Reds boss Rafael Benitez's Everton team.

    There was plenty for Klopp to enjoy, and he hailed Diogo Jota as "a perfect signing" after the Portuguese forward, acquired from Wolves in September 2020, snatched two close-range goals early in the game to put the hosts in charge.

    "A good subject to talk about," Klopp said. "Diogo: exceptional player, exceptional boy. It was for us two years ago, one-and-a-half years ago, a perfect signing because he has everything that a Liverpool player in this squad needs.

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    Jota is set for an increasingly important role as Liverpool prepare to lose Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to Africa Cup of Nations duty in January.

    Klopp would love Liverpool to be able to call on Mane and Salah up to and including the Premier League clash with Chelsea on January 2.

    Asked whether it was known yet whether they would be available to face the current leaders, Klopp said: "Not really, it's early for that, we're still talking. Yes [we are hoping]."

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    Duvan Zapata netted the decisive goal midway through the first half, taking advantage of sloppy Juve defending to hammer in his ninth league goal of the season.

    Paulo Dybala was inches away from rescuing a point in stoppage time with a wicked free-kick that hit the crossbar, but Juve ultimately suffered a fifth league defeat of the 2021-22 campaign.

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    Berat Djimsiti's pass caught Juve's defence napping and, having been played onside by Matthijs de Ligt, Zapata lashed a thumping effort in off the bar.

    Dybala spurned a swift chance to respond, though Juve could easily have been two behind by the break had Matteo Pessina capitalised on Wojciech Szczesny's dreadful clearance.

    Juve were dealt a further blow by an injury to Federico Chiesa, who did not return for the second half, and it was not until Leonardo Bonucci played in Weston McKennie before the hour that they crafted an opening.

    Djimsiti was on hand to block the midfielder's path to goal, with McKennie suffering a knock in the process, ending his involvement.

    Musso did brilliantly to steer Adrien Rabiot's effort beyond the post soon after, while Bonucci headed well wide from a corner.

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    What does it mean? Juve a shadow of their former selves

    The gulf in quality between Chelsea and Juventus in midweek will have been a chastening experience for Allegri, but if the Bianconeri are not careful, they might well be hard pushed to qualify for the Champions League next season, barring of course a remarkable run to glory in Europe this term – that seems unlikely, however.

    They sit eighth in Italy, 11 points adrift of league leaders Napoli and second-placed Milan, who both play on Sunday. Atalanta, with this triumph – their first Serie A away win at Juve in 25 attempts – are seven points above Allegri's men, in fourth.

    Zapata back to haunt Juve once more

    Since the start of 2017, Zapata has scored eight goals in 11 appearances against Juve across all competitions, more than any other player in the same timeframe.

    Anywhere but home for Juve

    Juve have now lost three of their first seven home games in Serie A this season. It equals their worst such total so early in a top-flight campaign, matching poor runs from 1956-57 and 1948-49.

    What's next?

    Juve have an ideal chance to recover when they travel to lowly Salernitana on Tuesday, while Atalanta host Venezia on the same evening.

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