Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Roberto Firmino has sustained a "serious hamstring injury" and is set for a spell on the sidelines.

Firmino was introduced at half-time in the Reds' 2-0 Champions League win over Atletico Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday, but was forced off in the 78th minute.

When the striker will return to action is not clear, but Klopp expects the Brazil international to be out for at least four weeks.

"Bobby is not good news with a serious hamstring injury, really unfortunate," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "We don’t know exactly how long he will be out, but it will be not now after the international break directly. We have to work on that."

Klopp reiterated the significance of the 30-year-old's absence in his pre-match news conference ahead of a Premier League meeting with West Ham on Sunday:

The German boss said: "Losing Bobby Firmino is a blow. I don't think I need to say how big it is. It's a serious injury.

"We talk about weeks - more than four I consider as a serious injury. Then we have to see. Bobby is a quick healer."

Joe Gomez (calf) and Curtis Jones [eye] are also out of the Reds' trip to London, but Klopp expects both to return after the upcoming international break. 

Klopp was less sure about Naby Keita and James Milner, but hopes they will be back in action before long as they recover from thigh injuries.

"Curtis is a completely different story [to Firmino], he was very unlucky in training – he got a finger that scratched the eye," Klopp continued to Liverpool's official website. 

"I had a lot of injuries to players in my career, that was not [one]. He is on the way back but we have to see how long exactly. 

"He will be back after the international break, for sure, but in the international break we have to see when he can start doing proper stuff again. And Joey, hopefully, after the international break as well.

"We will see [about Keita and Milner]. For them, I have hope for after the international break but I don’t know exactly. We have to wait. That’s two weeks and a few days from now on, so that’s what I would really wish for but I cannot promise that. But that’s what we are working on."

Jurgen Klopp does not expect Naby Keita to be involved in Liverpool's Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday after sustaining a hamstring injury.

The Guinea midfielder had to be withdrawn just 19 minutes into Saturday's 2-2 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion, for which he had been a doubt after being clattered by Paul Pogba in last weekend's 5-0 hammering of Manchester United.

Klopp could not offer much information about Keita's condition immediately after the match, simply confirming it was a hamstring injury and that he "can't say more".

But at the very least, it appears Klopp will be preparing to face Atletico at Anfield without Keita as the Reds look to seal top spot in Champions League Group B with two matches to spare.

Klopp told Liverpool's official website: "He told me, he showed me [the] hamstring. So, I don't know, we will see; obviously [Sunday] or the day after he will have a scan and then we will know [the extent of the injury].

"But if somebody feels the hamstring, it would be the first time that he is ready for the next game. So, I can't see that."

A lengthy spell on the sidelines would not only be a blow for the Reds, who are already struggling for numbers in midfield, but also for Keita himself amid arguably his best run of form in a Liverpool shirt.

Injuries have been a regular frustration for the central midfielder, whose 16 Premier League starts in his first season (2018-19) remains the most he has managed in a single campaign since joining from RB Leipzig.

In 2020-21, Keita played just 10 league games as five different injury problems restricted his impact severely, but he is already up to seven appearances this term.

His off-the-ball tenacity has been a real asset to Liverpool as well, with Keita's 4.0 tackle attempts per 90 minutes second only to Alexis Mac Allister (4.9) among those to have played at least 180 minutes in the Premier League this season.

He is also averaging 2.5 successful tackles each game, with only Mac Allister (3.7) and Todd Cantwell (3.2) winning the ball back with greater regularity.

Mohamed Salah maintained his scintillating form with a hat-trick and Paul Pogba was sent off as Liverpool hammered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's shambolic Manchester United 5-0 at Old Trafford.

Liverpool humiliated their fierce rivals to pile more pressure on Red Devils boss Solskjaer, with Jurgen Klopp celebrating 200 wins as manager of the Merseyside club in dream fashion.

United were blown away as they went in at half-time four goals down for the first time in a Premier League game, making it all too easy for the Reds as Naby Keita and Diogo Jota were on target before Salah struck twice.

The magnificent Salah completed his hat-trick early in the second half, taking his goal tally for the season to 15, before substitute Pogba was dismissed for a poor challenge on Keita.

Salah has now scored in 10 consecutive games and Liverpool are unbeaten in 21 matches, while United are in disarray after the most chastening of defeats in their own backyard.

Keita silenced the United faithful when he capitalised on poor defending to slide beyond David de Gea with his right foot after being slipped in by Salah.

That strike in the fifth minute was the Reds' earliest at Old Trafford in the Premier League and they did not have long to wait for a second, Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross giving Jota a tap-in after a mix-up between Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

Liverpool, already without the injured Fabinho, lost James Milner midway through the first half but Salah put them out of sight with a double before the break after Alisson had denied Mason Greenwood.

The abysmal Red Devils were all over the place and the ruthless Egypt forward made them pay, finishing with his right foot when he was picked out by Keita and tucking home with his left from close range just before a half-time whistle that was greeted with loud boos.

Salah completed his treble five minutes into the second half, racing onto Jordan Henderson's incisive pass before beating De Gea with a clinical left-foot finish after Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for offside.

United's day took yet another turn for the worse when Pogba was dismissed for a reckless lunge on Keita following a VAR check, having initially been shown a yellow card on the hour mark.

Keita was unable to continue and the United players look like they would rather not, as only a brilliant save from De Gea prevented Alexander-Arnold adding a sixth.

Andrew Robertson's block sent the ball crashing against the crossbar late on to prevent Edinson Cavani from finding the back of the net and there were inevitably more boos at the final whistle to end a totally one-sided contest.

Mohamed Salah made history by scoring in a ninth successive match for Liverpool to earn the Reds a dramatic 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid, who had two-goal Antoine Griezmann sent off and a late penalty contentiously overturned.

In-form forward Salah opened the scoring inside eight minutes in Tuesday's breathless Champions League tie before Naby Keita volleyed in a second five minutes later as the visitors took complete control at Wanda Metropolitano.

That was the earliest Atletico had gone two goals down in a Champions League match, though they hit back before half-time through Griezmann's double.

Griezmann was sent off early in the second half for a high boot on Roberto Firmino and Liverpool made the man advantage count when Salah scored a second of his own from the penalty spot.

Liverpool, who were given a late reprieve when a penalty awarded for Diogo Jota's shove on Jose Gimenez was overruled following a check of the pitchside monitor, now hold a five-point lead over Atletico and Porto at the top of Group B.

At 29 years and 130 days, Liverpool fielded their oldest starting line-up in a match since September 1953 and their experience showed in a fast start that saw them open the scoring early on.

Salah's left-footed shot from outside the box took a deflection on its way past Jan Oblak and was later credited to the Egypt forward after some initial confusion over who the final touch came off.

Atleti continued to be pushed back and they found themselves two goals behind soon after when Felipe's poor defensive header fell nicely for Keita to thump home with a dipping first-time shot from 18 yards.

But the home side soon settled and were back in the game thanks to a slight touch from Griezmann to help Koke's shot into the bottom-left corner, the goal allowed to stand after a lengthy VAR check for a possible offside in the build-up.

Griezmann was then denied by Alisson when played clean through on goal, but the France international made amends by taking Joao Felix's pass in his stride and coolly slotting past the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Alisson and Oblak continued to be called into action in a frantic end-to-end match, but momentum shifted back in Liverpool's favour with 52 minutes played with Griezmann's straight red card.

Jurgen Klopp's side made a spell of pressure count 12 minutes from time as Mario Hermoso barged into Jota inside the box and Salah, who missed a penalty against Milan in Liverpool's opening group match, buried the spot-kick.

There was still time for more drama in the Spanish capital, with referee Daniel Siebert pointing to the spot for Jota's challenge on Gimenez, but the decision was controversially overturned before substitute Luis Suarez could step up and take the penalty.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund and Norway sensation.

If Haaland leaves Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit have a replacement in mind.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND OUT, CHIESA IN AT BVB?

Borussia Dortmund see Juventus forward Federico Chiesa as a replacement for in-demand star Erling Haaland, according to Calciomercato.

Haaland is tipped to leave Dortmund at the end of the season amid links with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

Should Haaland depart, Dortmund are eyeing Juve and Italy star Chiesa, who has previously caught the attention of Chelsea and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Juve, Inter and Milan are interested in Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who has been linked with a January exit.

- A contract extension for Liverpool's Naby Keita is not as close as previously thought, claims Bild. It comes as Liverpool reportedly eye Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham.

Tottenham will make a January move for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato. The Serbia international forward has also been linked with City, Arsenal, Juve and Atletico Madrid.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah sent Liverpool top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace as they stole a march on Manchester City. 

A shaky start eventually gave way to the anticipated Liverpool control, which did not yield a goal until Mane's close-range strike shortly before half-time, his 100th for the club in all competitions.

The Reds had to see out some dangerous forays forward from a Palace side that demonstrated plenty of attacking ambition. 

Yet moments beyond the opening minutes where Alisson was truly tested were rare, Salah making the game safe as Liverpool moved three points clear of City, who drew at home with Southampton, as well as Manchester United and Chelsea. Naby Keita added late gloss to the scoreline with a superb volley. 

Palace went agonisingly close twice in the first three minutes, Alisson scrambling to turn a goal-bound Wilfried Zaha effort onto the post after he had latched onto Conor Gallagher's lofted ball into the box, before Christian Benteke then headed against the left upright, although replays showed the striker to be in an offside position. 

Vicente Guaita was forced into a fine save at the far post from Liverpool's midweek Champions League hero Jordan Henderson, but the Reds initially struggled to make their dominance of possession count following Palace's bright start. 

Diogo Jota should have put Liverpool in front when the ball rebounded to him at point-blank range after Guaita repelled Thiago Alcantara's header, however, he blazed a seemingly simple chance high over the bar. 

Mane made no such mistake two minutes before half-time as he was alert to tuck home the rebound and break the deadlock following Guaita's diving stop from Salah's near-post header. 

The busy Guaita produced a double save to deny Keita and Salah while at the other end Odsonne Edouard was let down by his first touch with a gilt-edged chance to restore parity. 

And the Eagles' failure to find a leveller was punished 12 minutes from time when Salah settled matters by lashing home after Virgil van Dijk had flicked on Konstantinos Tsimikas' corner, with Palace's inability to defend another set-piece situation allowing Keita to add the finishing touch in some style. 

 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has declared Virgil van Dijk fit to face Leeds United on Sunday after the defender's injury scare on international duty.

The Netherlands captain picked up a slight knock in the 6-1 demolition of Turkey on Tuesday, which would have concerned Liverpool given Van Dijk's absence for most of last term.

However, the centre-back quickly calmed Klopp's concerns before returning to Liverpool, who are on the second-longest unbeaten run in England's top four tiers (13).

The Liverpool manager confirmed the £75million man's fitness.

"With Virgil [van Dijk], that was obviously a scary moment, you can imagine," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"I sent him a message after the game, 'Are you all right?'."

Klopp was immediately sent a message or reassurance, and he then asked whether Van Dijk was "100 per cent", and was told he was actually "200 per cent" healthy.

The Reds boss said he then sent a message that read: "Come on, send me a video of you without limping…"

"So he called me from the bus and said, 'Boss, I’m fine!'," Klopp said.

"I said, 'Why are you limping then?’. He said, 'My wife asked the same!'.

"So, yeah, that was a bit of a tricky moment but apart from that, no, all fine [for the international players]."

Klopp will have been briefly sweating on his star defender's fitness, given Liverpool missed Van Dijk's leadership and defensive attributes last term, with only one Premier League defender (Burnley's James Tarkowski: 199) bettering his 191 aerial wins during the Reds' title-winning campaign of 2019-20.

Despite the encouraging news on Van Dijk, Klopp will be without Roberto Firmino for the trip to Elland Road as the forward suffered a hamstring injury against Chelsea.

However, Harvey Elliott is back to full fitness after withdrawing from England's Under-21 squad. Prior to the international break, Elliott became the third youngest Liverpool player ever to start against Chelsea, after John McLaughlin in 1970 and Raheem Sterling in 2012.

Klopp also confirmed Naby Keita's safe return from Guinea, having managed to leave his home country after a military coup.

"Naby is fine," said Klopp. "Yesterday he was not here [at Liverpool's training ground] but he was in Liverpool again."

Lionel Messi has spent his entire career with Barcelona. 

That bond will not sway Barca's off-season plans, though.

The Spanish giants have reportedly turned their eyes to a younger option. 

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PREFER HAALAND TO MESSI STAY

Barcelona are so desperate to lure Erling Haaland to Camp Nou that they would be willing to let superstar captain Lionel Messi walk away if they can sign the Borussia Dortmund star, according to The Sun.

Barca's financial situation would make it difficult to pay both players, and the report claims Messi might see his wages cut in half if he stays with the LaLiga powerhouse amid links to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City

Numerous clubs are circling for Haaland, including City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, PSG, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Raul is favourite to take over as Madrid head coach next season if Zinedine Zidane leaves. Madrid great Raul is chasing promotion with the club's Castilla side.

Barca are set to complete the double free transfers of City star Sergio Aguero and Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to Sport.

Arsenal and Martin Odegaard have a mutual interest in extending the Norway international's loan stay at the Premier League, according to Football London. He has two goals in 18 appearances in all competitions since arriving on loan from Madrid.

- Diario AS reports PSG are set to swoop in for Sergio Ramos by offering the Madrid captain and soon-to-be free agent a two-year contract. Ramos has also been linked to United.

- Though Juventus may be facing an exodus if they miss out on Champions League football next season, the Bianconeri are interested in Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, says Calciomercato. 

United may shore up their midfield with a bid for Getafe's Mauro Arambarri, Diario AS reports. The 25-year-old is under contract through 2023. The Mirror, meanwhile, says United remain keen on Atletico Madrid star Marcos Llorente.

Atletico are interested in Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, claims the Daily Star. Keita has struggled for form and fitness since moving to Anfield from RB Leipzig in 2018.

Jurgen Klopp has made clear Naby Keita remains part of his long-term plans at Liverpool, despite the midfielder enduring another stop-start season at the club.

Injuries have hampered Keita ever since he joined from RB Leipzig. The Reds showed patience to finally get one of their primary transfer targets, completing a deal in August 2017 that saw the player spend one final season in Germany before heading to Anfield.

There have been flashes of his obvious talent since arriving, but Keita has seemingly been stuck in a frustrating cycle of fleetingly good moments followed by spells out of the team.

This campaign has been no different: Keita has made just nine starts in all competitions, the last of them coming in a 3-1 Champions League defeat at Real Madrid that saw the Guinea international substituted before half-time.

"It was not about Naby, but I did it and now I'm not happy about it because we talk like it's Naby's responsibility. It was not. It was tactical," Klopp said about the change.

The German coach has not started the talented 26-year-old since, a decision he revealed ahead of Sunday's clash with Manchester United was due to the need for stability in selection, particularly with the upheaval in defence.

With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all out, there has been a rotation of different options used at the heart of the back four, including midfield duo Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, who is now sidelined himself.

"A lot of things have been tricky this year. We've had to change so often and then you have to in the moment try and go for stability, that's what we really need," Klopp told reporters while previewing the trip to Old Trafford.

"For example, take Manchester United, where the last line [of defence] has played together for nearly 20 games now. Then you can make changes everywhere because you have a proper base.

"We never had that. On top of that, making two or three changes in midfield just doesn't work out. People say to try it, and I would if I could only be nearly sure that it would work out, but you need stability in a football team.

"Other teams are just too good for you to make eight or nine changes. That has hit a few players this year, some of them have been injured and coming back."

Keita has played 683 minutes in all competitions this season. There have been just seven league starts, and in five of those he was taken off.

A positive coronavirus test in October forced him to isolate, while thigh and knee injuries have kept him away from the first team too.

There been no goal involvements amid such limited opportunities, but he has created 10 chances at an average of 1.32 per 90 minutes, a rate just below regular Roberto Firmino (1.38) and better than both Diogo Jota (1.06) and Curtis Jones (0.88), two potential rivals for spots in the first XI.

Circumstances outside his control have worked against him, but Klopp has no intention of seeing the Liverpool cut their losses with Keita, who was a club-record signing at the time his move was confirmed.

"Naby trains really well, I have to say. Really well. Like a lot of other players, he looks really good in training," the Liverpool boss said.

"But this year we need stability. We will make changes from time to time, definitely, but it's not like we can take out seven, eight or nine players to change and say maybe we can win like this.

"The long-term future of Naby Keita, from my point of view, is here."

Jurgen Klopp selected Diogo Jota in attack and dropped Roberto Firmino to the bench for Liverpool's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Real Madrid.

Jota came on with the game goalless and netted a brace in Saturday's 3-0 Premier League win at Arsenal.

Although Firmino was initially on the field along with Jota, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane at Emirates Stadium, the Brazil forward had to be content with a place on the bench in the Spanish capital.

Jota's brace took him up to 12 goals for the campaign in his debut season at Anfield, level with Mane and double Firmino's six, despite injury restricting him to 1,269 minutes on the field.

Firmino has played 2,661 minutes, meaning he averages a goal every 443.5 minutes, with Jota's one per 105.75 minutes the best ratio among all of Liverpool's forwards. Salah's 26 goals in 2020-21 have arrived at one every 128.7 minutes.

Naby Keita has endured another injury-impacted season with the Reds, but Klopp gave him the nod in midfield alongside Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum, with ex-Barcelona man Thiago Alcantara among the substitutes.

Liverpool were set to confront a patched-up Real Madrid back four in a rematch of the 2018 final, with Raphael Varane's positive COVID-19 diagnosis putting him on the sidelines with skipper Sergio Ramos and right-back Dani Carvajal.

Lucas Vazquez, Nacho and Eder Militao were chosen as the men to step in alongside first-choice left-back Ferland Mendy.

Naby Keita may make his Liverpool return in Saturday's Merseyside derby but Fabinho remains absent against Everton.

Guinea midfielder Keita has not featured since the Reds' 7-0 mauling of Crystal Palace on December 19 due to an ankle injury but was back in training this week.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will take another check on Keita before the meeting with the Toffees at Anfield, though the German confirmed Fabinho – who missed the Premier League loss to Leicester City and Champions League win over RB Leipzig with a muscular issue – will sit out again, meaning captain Jordan Henderson is likely to partner Ozan Kabak once more in defence.

"Naby trained yesterday with the team, so we have to see what we make of it," Klopp told a news conference.

"Fab was not in training, all the others not as well. Nothing new.

"They all get closer – Fab gets closer, Millie [James Milner] gets closer and Diogo [Jota] gets closer, but not close enough for the weekend."

Klopp explained Keita could have been in contention to face former club Leipzig in midweek, a Champions League last-16 first-leg match played in Budapest that Liverpool won 2-0, only for illness to interrupt his recovery.

"Naby could have been in the squad against Leipzig, but it didn't make sense because he'd only trained two days with the team. So, we said stay at home, train two days of proper training sessions, but unfortunately Naby got ill a little bit and couldn't train these two days," he added.

"Yesterday we reintegrated him again. I just don't know, but we don't hold him back or whatever. Of course, after the injuries he had, we don't want to force him in or something like that, but it would be nice to have him.

"Is he able to play a few minutes on Saturday? I don't know. If he's not, if we speak about it and it's better to rather not play a few minutes then it is better to stay away from the team and just train proper, proper.

"Being around, on the bench, are not the most intense things and he needs to get used to the intensity again. No decision made yet, but he is not injured anymore and now we have to figure out how fit he is to play how many minutes."

For Naby Keita, Liverpool's Champions League tie with RB Leipzig could have offered a chance to show his old club what they are missing.

Travel restrictions put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic have blocked the first leg from taking place in Germany, so Budapest will instead stage the opening match of the last-16 showdown on Tuesday. Keita, however, will not be there.

Rather than head to the Hungarian capital with the rest of the squad, the Guinea international has remained back on Merseyside to continue his recovery from the latest injury setback in a Liverpool career that has flattered to deceive so far. 

There have been bright moments, occasional performances where he has demonstrated his class, but too often those high points have been followed by a prolonged spell on the sidelines.  

Keita made 43 league appearances in his first two years in England, but only 25 of them were starts. This season, there have been just seven outings, the last of them on December 19 in the 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace, back when everything looked far rosier in Liverpool's garden.

Jurgen Klopp provided a positive fitness update on the midfielder ahead of the Leipzig game, revealing: "Naby is no longer injured but he's not fit yet".  A reunion with his former employers could still come at Anfield in the return fixture, albeit the German manager is not known for being sentimental when it comes to team selection.

Liverpool were patient in the first place just to get him; having failed to agree terms for his immediate transfer, they instead struck a deal with Leipzig to have him join 12 months later for, at the time, a club-record fee.

"Until I join my new club, next summer, I will remain an interested supporter from a distance," Keita said when the impending transfer was confirmed. Sadly, too often he has been stuck watching on since. There have been hamstring, thigh, groin and knee issues, plus a spell out after contracting COVID-19. It has felt like one step forward, two back.

Still, his two seasons at Leipzig – during which he contributed 14 goals and 12 assists in 58 Bundesliga games – demonstrated why Klopp was willing to wait. Comfortable with the ball at his feet and capable of playing the killer pass when working in crowded spaces, he was seen as the ideal attacking threat that could lift the team to the next level. 

The Reds have duly raised their standards, but Keita has been a peripheral figure. He was ruled out of the Champions League final against Tottenham in July 2019 and, while he played – and scored – the night Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy just over 12 months later, it was one of only 14 starts in all competitions. 

His only other league goal during that title-winning campaign came at Bournemouth in the previous December, when he picked up possession in a pocket of space in front of the opposition defence, played a clever one-two with Mohamed Salah and then toe-poked the ball in.

Such moments of quality served to underline why he was identified and, eventually, signed. Liverpool have rarely made big-money mistakes in the transfer market, but Keita has yet to live up to the hefty fee, which covered his £48million release clause plus an undisclosed premium that sealed the deal. 

While seven goals and four assists in 45 starts is so far a disappointing return on that sizeable investment, exploring Keita's contributions in greater depth shows what he can produce when healthy.

No player who had over 20 dribble attempts for Liverpool in the 2019-20 league season had a better success rate than his 82.14 per cent, while his figure for big chances created per 90 minutes (0.55) was the best of the lot, too. Add in an average of 10.95 passes into the final third per 90 and you see the type of numbers that suggest he could have made a difference this term, particularly in games where Klopp's side have struggled so badly to break down opposing line-ups stuck in a low block.

There is still time to have a greater impact, of course, but rather than taking centre stage when Liverpool take on Leipzig, Keita is stuck as a spectator once again, a footnote to the storyline as the knockout stages of the competition begin.

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