Liverpool playmaker Thiago Alcantara has not considered a return to Barcelona, insisting he is "100 per cent' happy with his choice to move to Anfield.

Thiago has not had it easy with injuries since his transfer to Liverpool from Bayern Munich in 2020.

The Spain international contracted COVID-19 shortly after his arrival, before suffering an injury due to a tackle from Everton's Richarlison during his full debut in October last year.

He played just 24 league games last season, starting 20 of them, scoring once.

More niggling injury issues have restricted the 30-year-old to eight appearances across all competitions so far this term. However, he does seem to be rediscovering something close to his best form, at least from a creative standpoint.

Per 90 minutes played, Thiago creates on average 2.2 chances, tied with Mohamed Salah for third place in Liverpool's squad behind Trent Alexander-Arnold (3.2) and Konstantinos Tsimikas (2.7), while 305 of his 345 attempted passes have found a team-mate (an 88.4 per cent accuracy).

Following Xavi taking over from Ronald Koeman at Barca, however, there had been reports linking Thiago with a return to his former club, with the Blaugrana's new coach reportedly keen to reunite with his old team-mate.

Thiago, though, says he is perfectly happy at Anfield.

"As always, I am a guy who plays football," he told a news conference ahead of Liverpool's Champions League meeting with Porto on Wednesday.

"I am not focused on the rumours, I am focused on the duty I have with my team, the years that I have on the contract and I just want to know about this new adventure that I have here in the Premier League, trying to win all the trophies that I can with this team."

"One hundred per cent I made the right choice, the right move," he added when asked if he had any doubts over his move to the Premier League due to the amount of injuries he has sustained.

"The injuries stop the frequency to play, and to know how the team performs on the pitch.

"You can watch football and all the time it's awesome but putting it into practice is even better. It's a pity football has [injuries] but it's part of football, part of life, when we are fit we have to put in as high performances as we can.

"I think the first year was very interrupted because of the COVID situation, injury. I had a quick adaptation. We struggled last season, for many reasons.

"This year, you know much better your team-mates, the runs that they make, the way they prefer to receive the ball, the way they defend, how they attack. To me the most important thing is to try to win in the way we want to win."

Thiago has collected four LaLiga titles, seven Bundesliga crowns and three Champions League winners' medals across a glittering career, working under some of Europe's top coaches, including Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola, Hansi Flick and, now, Jurgen Klopp.

"First of all, I had the luck to play with great players, great teams. I remember the time with Pep was different to Ancelotti and time with Tito [Vilanova] was different to Pep also," he said when asked to compare playing under Guardiola and Klopp. 

"With these two coaches [Guardiola and Klopp] we can see, they both have the same charisma. Also, they have the group in their hands, they make them perform better. The similarities are there. 

"The difference is how the teams play. One is much more possession. It's great both are doing what they want in the greatest way football can bring."

England manager Gareth Southgate has said he is confused by comments from Jurgen Klopp about his treatment of Liverpool players on international duty.

Klopp has previously raised concerns about Southgate's use of Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield, as well as his justification for leaving Joe Gomez out of the England squad on the basis of a lack of game time at club level, while Manchester City's John Stones has continued to be picked despite spending much of the season on the bench.

Southgate has selected Liverpool duo Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson in his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.

"I don't quite know why he keeps having a swing, you'd have to ask him," Southgate told reporters.

"I think we've always got on reasonably well. I've noticed quite a few articles and quite a few comments, which is always interesting to see."

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."

Any hopes of Paul Pogba remaining at Old Trafford appear to be fading. 

The Manchester United stalwart has halted contract talks with the club. 

Multiple European clubs are said to be interested in the 28-year-old. 

 

TOP STORY – POGBA ENDS MAN UTD TALKS

Paul Pogba has ended talks over a potential new contract at Manchester United amid an apparent row with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Sun reports. 

The France international will be out of contract in June and appears likely to move on. 

The Sun reports he apologised to his team-mates but did not speak to Solskjaer after being sent off 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool. 

His former club Juventus could be an option, while Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have shown interest. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona would prefer to have Jurgen Klopp take over whenever they sack Ronald Koeman, says Sport. Klopp is under contract with Liverpool through 2024. 

- Newcastle United are prepared to offer Alex Ten Hag £6million a year after taxes if he leaves Ajax for St. James' Park, reports the Mail. 

- Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in Barcelona's Spain international Sergi Roberto, says Fichajes. 

- Inter have had talks with Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby's agent over a potential move, claims Calciomercato. 

- River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is drawing interest from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Aston Villa, says Calciomercato. 

Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah has the ability to match the sustained level of performance Cristiano Ronaldo has managed to achieve.

Salah's Liverpool visit Ronaldo's Manchester United in the Premier League's headline fixture on Sunday.

The Egypt forward has been in sensational form this season, scoring 12 goals in all competitions, with seven of those coming in eight top-flight matches.

Salah's tally includes brilliant individual goals against Manchester City and Watford in his last two Premier League outings and, while Ronaldo hit the ground running in his second spell at United in terms of goalscoring, the 36-year-old has been part of a disjointed Red Devils attack.

At this moment, Salah's all-round game seems to be at its peak. He has provided four assists from 25 chances created and has outperformed his expected goals (xG) value by some way (12 goals from an xG of 9.0).

 

Klopp insists he has never thought to compare Salah and Ronaldo, though he believes the professionalism and commitment of the duo is one area in which the players are very similar.

Asked if Salah could hit the levels of continued success that Ronaldo has enjoyed late into his career, Klopp said: "You need luck, because things can happen with injuries and so on, but I think the professionalism of both Mo and Cristiano is the one thing you can compare 100 per cent.

"It is probably the same. Mo is incredibly professional. He is really the first one in and very often the last out of all the players.

"He is constantly interested in all the things he can do and has to do to keep or improve the standard. I think he still has a lot to give, 100 per cent.

"It helps him for sure and the team he is playing for then as well and I hope it is for us [in the future]."

Salah scored another fantastic individual goal in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid in midweek, becoming the first player in the club's history to score in nine consecutive matches across all competitions.

"It's true that I have been blessed with incredible players during my time but, no, when the ball went over all players in that situation and Mo had to already run pretty quick to get it before the sideline and then he turns, it didn't look for me like a proper goalscoring opportunity to me," Klopp added.

"But challenge by challenge it developed into that. That's the situation and that is the difference between a moment when momentum is not on your side and when momentum is on your side.

 

"It is all about the quality of Mo in this moment to do it, to try it and you can imagine how much all the players of Atletico knew about this ability and wanted to defend it desperately and still couldn't do it.

"That is pretty special, pretty special. I am really happy and more than fine with the players I could watch during my time, and being quite positive when they got the ball, that something special will happen."

Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season (two in the FA Cup, one in the Premier League) – no Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive games at Old Trafford.

Liverpool head to Manchester unbeaten in 18 league games, the longest current run in the top four tiers of English football (W13 D5).

Away from home, Liverpool have scored at least three goals in each of their last five Premier League games (17 in total), with only United last season having a longer such run in the competition (six).

Jurgen Klopp dismissed suggestions Manchester United's languid first-half showing against Atalanta on Wednesday would be encouraging for Liverpool.

United fell two goals behind against Atalanta after just 29 minutes – the earliest they have been two down in the Champions League at Old Trafford since October 2012.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo scored in his third straight European game to cap a remarkable turnaround as the Red Devils came from behind to win.

Ahead of Liverpool's trip to United, who have won just one of the last 10 top-flight meetings with the Reds, Klopp insisted United's performance was not as bad as some made out.

"I was watching the game and there was not one second where I was rubbing my hands together," Klopp responded at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"There was no reason for it if you watched the game, Atalanta caused United some problems but even then United had three clear chances in the first half.

"With the quality they have, they can cause any team problems and the second half was a demonstration of United going for it - I am preparing the team for a tough game against a really tough opponent.

"United versus Liverpool is a massive game. Man United are not overly happy with their results but they are able to do incredible stuff. We will focus on ourselves."

Liverpool are on an 18-game unbeaten run – the longest current streak in England's top four tiers – and have scored three-plus goals in each of their last five top-flight away games.

The Reds, following their 4-2 win at Old Trafford in May, could make it back-to-back away league wins against United for the first time since January 2002.

However, Klopp remains without midfielder Thiago Alcantara for the trip as the Spain international remains out with a calf injury, though Curtis Jones may return.

"What's clear is that Curtis will train today with us the full session, that's the plan," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"And Thiago not. So, these are the two things I know for the moment," before adding to reporters later: "Thiago is running, which is a good sign. Maybe he's back before the international break, but we will see."

Jurgen Klopp hailed Takumi Minamino as a "top character" after the Japanese forward fired Liverpool past Norwich City in the EFL Cup.

The Japan forward's two goals, either side of a header from Divock Origi, guided the Reds to a 3-0 win at Carrow Road.

Minamino's influence at Liverpool has not reached the levels some expected it might after he joined from Salzburg in January of last year, and he spent the second half of the 2020-21 season at Southampton.

For now he is back at Liverpool and keen to make an impression, and a smart turn and finish for Liverpool's opening goal was an example of his quality.

A recent minor knock set Minamino back slightly, but he looked sharp against the Canaries as both sides made sweeping personnel changes for the cup clash.

"Players need time to get back on track after an injury. But Taki is in a really good moment," Klopp said in a post-game news conference.

"He trained very well and deserved his two goals. For the first one he showed really good awareness, quick in mind and finished the situation off.

"He was really good in pre-season then he got injured, and now the rest of the season can start. 

"He was injured at the wrong moment. Coming back, it's sometimes not so easy, but he is a top character obviously and enjoyed the game tonight and that was important for him and important for us, so that will help him and it helped us."

Although Minamino caught the eye, his prospects of a run in Klopp's Premier League team look remote for now and it may be his appearances prove sporadic, spread across competitions.

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino returned to training on Monday, Klopp said, after a hamstring injury lay-off, and when fit he remains ahead of Minamino in the pecking order.

"It is not too far away when he will play again," Klopp said of Firmino.

Liverpool's manager watched on appreciatively as teenagers Tyler Morton, Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley helped Liverpool get the job done, all three making their first-team debuts.

"I'm really happy for the boys, it was a big one for all three," said Klopp. "These boys are good and thank God they're ours."

Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann have hit out at FIFA's plan to stage the World Cup every two years, saying such demands were too much for players.

Liverpool manager Klopp and Bayern Munich head coach Nagelsmann are considered two of Europe's top bosses, and their stance is directly contrary to the position taken by FIFA's Arsene Wenger.

Former Arsenal manager Wenger is chief of global football development with the world governing body, and he has said the proposals are "the right solution for the modern way to organise football".

As well as the biennial World Cup, qualifying games would take place in extended mid-season international breaks, which would mean time spent away from clubs is concentrated into one or two stints in a campaign.

Wenger may find support for various aspects of his reform plans, but shifting the World Cup from its long-standing tradition of happening every four years is a step too far for many senior figures in the game.

Klopp said in a Liverpool news conference on Friday: "There's no other sport in the world with such a relentless calendar. [There are] more demanding sports, but they don't run all year.

"We know why it's happening. Whatever people say ... it's all about money. That's fine. We do it because we love it and get lots of money as well.

"At one point, someone has to understand that without the players we cannot play this. No one is more important than the players. A World Cup every two years, then every two years there is the Euros too.

"So every year, a top-class player plays an international tournament. A three-week break every year?

"The ideas about reform are always about more games. There are too many 'meaningless games' [they say] but if you only have competitions under pressure that's difficult. We never have time for pre-season with key players. They play without a break. That's not right."

 

Nagelsmann's verdict reflected that of his fellow German Klopp.

"A World Cup every two years, I don't like that," Nagelsmann said in Bayern's pre-match news conference.

"I'm not a friend of that idea. On one hand it's the strain on all the players and of course it just diminishes a World Cup if it's every two years.

"We have such a flood of games, a schedule that's difficult to cope with, specifically here in Germany and here in Munich.

"We have to have proper finances, make sure that we have a good squad. We need bigger squads, that means you have bigger costs. You need 24 players because you have to compensate for all the injured players because of this busy schedule.

"At some point it doesn't make any more sense. The footballers are there to entertain the masses, and to thrill the masses. But of course these are people who have health and fitness issues every once in a while who need a day or two to regenerate.

"This incredibly busy schedule isn't good for the quality of the games.

"And if the quality of the games decreases then there's going to be less money in future – people will not watch as much football if it's slow, if the players are injured and can't run anymore."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin this week claimed teams from Europe and South America may boycott the World Cup if FIFA presses ahead with its plan.

The Premier League, meanwhile, was among a group of major European leagues that came out "firmly and unanimously" against FIFA's proposals.

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since the inaugural edition in 1930, aside from 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War, while the women's World Cup has followed suit since it was first staged in 1991. The men's 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar.

Jurgen Klopp hinted that Liverpool will be without Roberto Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho for the trip to Leeds United on Sunday.

Firmino misses out through a hamstring injury sustained against Chelsea but the availability of Alisson and Fabinho remains in doubt after Brazil called on FIFA to suspend the players from playing this weekend.

Brazil requested the governing body to take action after the Premier League clubs agreed to not let their players travel to South America, amid quarantining fears on their return subsequently causing them to miss fixtures.

When asked for an update on the situation, Klopp told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference: "I know Bobby [Firmino] will not be available because of injury. About the rest, no.

"It’s a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs and players, especially.

"We should not forget the players wanted to play, the clubs wanted to let players go but it was not possible.

"It looks like the real punishment is on the players because they can't play and, of course, the clubs as well.

"That's really not okay, we didn't decide that the players could not go.

"Brazil played 1.30am this morning [UK] time, they won all 3 games and still there is a complaint.

"Before the last break I met [Arsene] Wenger and he showed me World Cup plans. In that moment I got the message from our guys 'no exemptions from government for our players'.

"Now we have that situation, we still don't know who we can line-up at the weekend.

"I've no idea when I can expect a solution, we will see. I don't know what moment I have to make the decision. I want to play them on Sunday but we will see."

Klopp's side travel to Elland Road on the second-longest unbeaten run in England's top four tiers (13), also winning seven of their last eight Premier League matches on the road.

Leeds are winless in their last eight top-flight meetings with the Reds, though they held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road last season.

The transfer window does not close. It slams shut, and on Tuesday, it slammed shut with a flurry of late activity.

LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid were heavily involved, with Antoine Griezmann re-joining the club on loan from Barcelona while Saul Niguez left for Chelsea.

It marked the end of a difficult window for Barca, who of course lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, who rounded off a stellar three months by not only keeping Kylian Mbappe, but also adding promising left-back Nuno Mendes.

Earlier in the day, Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return to Manchester United had been confirmed, perhaps putting the Red Devils right in the mix for the Premier League title, while Chelsea - buoyed by Romelu Lukaku's comeback - cannot be ignored.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the winners, and losers, of what has been a chaotic transfer window.

 

THE WINNERS

Paris Saint-Germain

Let's start with the obvious. Achraf Hakimi, Mendes, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georgino Wijnaldum and, of course Messi. Oh, and PSG kept hold of Mbappe, too, rebuffing three bids - the final one reportedly worth €200m - from Real Madrid for the 22-year-old superstar who is out of contract next year. Speaking of out of contract players, Ramos, Donnarumma, Wijnaldum and Messi were all brought in for combined fees of €0, although their wages are sure to be astronomical even by PSG's standards. In Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, PSG have, on paper, what could be the most feared attacking trident of the modern era, not to mention Angel Di Maria in reserve. Mauricio Pochettino's side look suspect defensively but have Ramos to come in, while Donnarumma will compete with Keylor Navas. If they do not win the Champions League this season, will they ever manage it?

Manchester United

It remains to be seen whether United really needed to go out and buy Ronaldo, but the temptation – and reportedly, the requirement to get one over on noisy neighbours Manchester City – was just too much. However, there is no doubting Ronaldo brings a focal point you could argue was still missing from the Red Devils' attack, though with so much quality at his disposal the pressure will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjer to deliver a trophy. United spent big on Jadon Sancho and also brought in a world class defender in Raphael Varane. A title tilt might not be expected just yet, but silverware in some form must be the goal now. After fan protests during the botched Super League proposals earlier this year, the Glazer family seem to have gone all out to prove they want success.

Chelsea

When it comes to Premier League title contenders, Chelsea have surely put themselves well in the running. The European Champions have brought in two major additions in the form of Lukaku and Saul, both players with a wealth of experience at the highest level, and both on the back of title-winning campaigns last season. The Blues did sell Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma, among others, but the strength in depth Thomas Tuchel has to play with is remarkable. A deadline day move for Sevilla's Jules Kounde did not materialise, but Saul adds another fantastic option in midfield to go alongside N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and the in-form Jorginho.

Tottenham

For a long while, it looked as though Tottenham would be one of the big losers from this window. A prolonged managerial search eventually resulted in Nuno Espirito Santo's appointment, but the main saga was over Harry Kane's future. City reportedly made one bid, during Euro 2020, which was dismissed out of hand. The champions never did return with an improved offer, despite huge speculation, and Kane ultimately stayed put. Older players such as Joe Hart, Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko were moved out, while Bryan Gil, Pierluigi Gollini, Cristian Romero and Emerson Royal – a deadline day arrival from Barca – arrived to fill the gaps. Serge Aurier's contract was terminated, while three wins from three means Spurs sat top of the league heading into the international break.

Atletico Madrid

While Saul was a deadline day exit, Atleti have given themselves a great chance of retaining their LaLiga title. With rivals Madrid failing to land Mbappe, as well as losing two of their stalwarts, and Barca seemingly in disarray, there has never been a better opportunity for Diego Simeone's team to really assert themselves as top dogs in Spain. Griezmann's arrival, on a season-long loan with the option for either club to extend the switch, has bolstered a fearsome attack that already included Luis Suarez, Angel Correa, new signing Matheus Cunha and Joao Felix - though the latter may now find chances to play in his preferred position, nominally off the front man, even harder to come by. Saul was struggling to nail down a regular spot in the first team, but Atleti showed greater desire to keep Kieran Trippier, who stayed despite interest from the Premier League. Rodrigo de Paul also arrived from Udinese.

 

THE LOSERS

Barcelona

The chickens have finally come home to roost at Camp Nou. Years of mismanagement, and the impact of COVID-19, has left the club's finances in a shambolic state. Barca had agreed to a new deal with Messi only to then announce the deal could not be completed due to "financial and structural obstacles". Barca ended the window by selling promising youngster Ilaix Moriba to RB Leipzig and shipping off Emerson to Spurs. Then, late on Tuesday, Griezmann, who cost Barca €120m in 2019, was sent back to Atleti. Luuk de Jong, a target man Ronald Koeman worked with during his stint as the Netherlands' coach, was drafted in from Sevilla as a replacement. Memphis Depay seems ready to step up after his arrival from Lyon, while Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero also came in on free transfers, though Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were among the players who took pay cuts in order for Barca to register their latest acquisitions.

Inter

Serie A champions Inter were dealt a blow when, just after ending their 11-year trophy drought, coach Antonio Conte left the club. Financial difficulties meant the Nerrazurri had to cash in on prized assets, and Hakimi and subsequently Lukaku followed Conte out of the door. Lautaro Martinez did stay, however, with Inter reinvesting some of the funds to sign Netherlands right-back Denzel Dumfries, Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Lazio forward Juan Correa. Hakan Calhanoglu, meanwhile, joined from rivals Milan on loan, though it is difficult to see that being enough for Inter to challenge on all fronts this season.

 

Juventus

While Inter were weakened, it has to be said that Juventus – surely their closest rivals in the Scudetto hunt – also had a disappointing window. Like many European clubs, they have been hit hard by COVID-19, though appeared well set to challenge again after reappointing Massimiliano Allegri. However, Ronaldo decided he wanted out late in the window, and Juve did not stand in his way. An initial fee of £12.86m (€15m), payable over five years, was agreed with United, and Ronaldo left just like that. Moise Kean returned from Everton on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy as a replacement, while Manuel Locatelli was their other major acquisition and Weston McKennie's move from Schalke was made permanent. Based on the performance in Sunday's defeat to Empoli, however, Juve are far from the force they were during Allegri's last spell in charge.

Real Madrid

For a time last week, it really did look as though Madrid were going to end the window in sensational fashion. Three bids were lodged for Mbappe, but PSG did not buckle. Madrid did move for another French youngster – Edouardo Camavinga, who joined from Rennes on Tuesday – but overall it must be considered a poor window. Los Blancos allowed Ramos to leave on a free and sold long-time defensive partner Varane - just the eight Champions League winners' medals between them. Martin Odegaard was deemed surplus to requirements by Carlo Ancelotti and sold to Arsenal, though no buyers were found for fringe players Luka Jovic or Dani Ceballos. David Alaba's arrival on a free transfer from Bayern Munich at least softened the blow of Ramos' departure, and Mbappe may well be on board in 2022.

Manchester City

City broke the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, who in turn have made smart acquisitions such as Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia. While another attacking midfielder was more of a luxury than a necessity, City did miss out on Kane and then seemingly saw Ronaldo snatched from under their noses by United, though the club have claimed it is they who pulled out of the deal. Pep Guardiola went into the window wanting an out-and-out number nine following Aguero's departure, but for now the Premier League champions will have to carry on with makeshift forwards, it seems. Not that it did them much harm in 5-0 routs of Norwich City and Arsenal last month. Meanwhile, wantaway playmaker Bernardo Silva is still at the club, though he will remain a first-team regular.

Liverpool 

Unlike their league rivals, Liverpool never seemed focused on spending big. The Reds instead turned their attention to tying down the futures of key players, with Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Fabinho and Andrew Robertson signing new deals. Ibrahima Konate came in from RB Leipzig to boost the defence – a clear area of weakness last season during an injury crisis – though Jurgen Klopp's squad does seem weaker. They have started the season well, but it remains to be seen how they cope without Wijnaldum and even Xherdan Shaqiri should injuries trouble them again.

Liverpool centre-back Nat Phillips has penned a new long-term contract with Jurgen Klopp's side.

Phillips came to the fore last term, appearing 20 times for the Reds in all competitions as they suffered a defensive crisis with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk both long-term absentees.

The 24-year-old played an integral part in Liverpool's Champions League qualification, starting 15 top-flight games and keeping seven clean sheets to secure a third-place finish.

Indeed, the Liverpool defender impressed as a stand-in and only lost two Premier League games in which he started, boasting a remarkable 73.3 per cent win rate that dropped to 39.1 per cent without him.

Phillips, who now sees Klopp's defensive options return to take his starting place, recorded a league-high 7.92 successful duels per 90 minutes among defenders and ranked sixth on the list for most duels contested per 90 minutes (13.05).

On signing his new deal, he told the club's official website: "Obviously after last year, it’s really nice to get that reward from the club.

"I’m happy to be sticking around and being available if the club need to call on me again. I’m excited for the next chapter and just to see what that brings.

"It is nice that the club has shown me that recognition and hopefully I can bring more of the same with whatever opportunities come my way."

Harvey Elliott has been handed a first Premier League start for Liverpool against Burnley, while captain Jordan Henderson returns to action for the Reds.

Henderson suffered a groin injury in the derby defeat to Everton at Anfield in February and has not featured for Jurgen Klopp's men since, though he was involved in England's Euro 2020 campaign.

Elliott became the youngest player to make an appearance in Premier League history in May 2019, making his debut for former club Fulham when aged 16 years and 30 days.

The 18-year-old now gets the chance from the outset after appearing twice as a substitute during the 2019-20 campaign for Liverpool, with Andy Robertson is also fit again to return to the bench.

The Scotland left-back suffered ankle ligament damage in a pre-season friendly with Athletic Bilbao and while Saturday's clash has come too soon to start again, it appears he could be ready for the Chelsea game next week.

Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners in their Premier League opener against Norwich City, in which Elliott tasted seven minutes of action off the bench, but they now host a Burnley side who ended their 68-game unbeaten home run last term.

Mohamed Salah netted once, his record-breaking fifth consecutive goal on the opening day of a Premier League campaign, as well as providing two assists against the Canaries.

A brace against the Clarets would see the Egypt forward reach 100 Premier League goals in 160 appearances. Only four players have ever achieved that feat in the competition before: Alan Shearer (124 games), Harry Kane (141), Sergio Aguero (147) and Thierry Henry (160).

Burnley, in contrast, got their campaign underway with a 2-1 loss at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. They could win consecutive away league matches at Anfield for the first time since 1894-95 and 1896-97.

Fabinho has signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool, the Premier League club have confirmed.

The Brazil midfielder's fresh terms are widely reported to run until June 2026.

Fabinho joined Liverpool from Monaco for £43.7million in May 2018 and quickly established himself as an integral member of Jurgen Klopp's side.

He finished his first season at the club as a Champions League winner, while the Reds ended their 30-year wait for a top-flight title by storming to Premier League glory in 2019-20.

Fabinho is expected to revert to his pivotal role at the base of the midfield in the forthcoming season, having filled in at centre-back for long spells last term amid long-term injuries for Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.

"These last three seasons I've been really happy here. I learned a lot with the manager, with all the staff, with the boys as well," the 27-year-old, who has made 122 appearances for Liverpool, told the club's official website.

"We achieved things together and for me I think it's the best place to be, the best place to keep growing, to keep learning from the staff, from the boys.

"Hopefully we will keep achieving good things."

Liverpool also won the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup during a record-breaking 2019-20, only to meekly cede their domestic title to Manchester City last time around.

Nevertheless, Fabinho believes the best is yet to come from himself and Klopp's squad.

"In my game I have improved, I think I'm a bit more experienced now and now I'm 27 – I arrived at the club [at] 24," he added, speaking to Liverpool's official website.

"When you play on this level, of course it's natural you will grow, you will learn a lot of things.

"I don't want to stop here, I know where I can be better, I can help the team to be better as well. I will try to do my best for this team."

Fabinho has committed his future to Liverpool after the midfielder signed a new long-term deal.

Jurgen Klopp paid a fond tribute to "Liverpool legend" Georginio Wijnaldum after the midfielder's move to Paris Saint-Germain was confirmed.

The Dutchman has agreed a three-year deal with Mauricio Pochettino's side ahead of the expiry of his Reds contract at the end of June.

The news officially brings the curtain down on Wijnaldum's five-year stay at Anfield, which saw him win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

And that has prompted Klopp to highlight the 30-year-old's contributions to a glorious era in Liverpool's history.

“As a team we said our goodbyes to Gini at Anfield after the final game of the season. There was the public farewell on the pitch with the guard of honour. But then a more private occasion also,” Klopp told the club's official website.

"It was difficult for all of us because of how much this astonishing person means to the group. He's been a big part of our lives for so long. There is nothing I won't miss about him."

Wijnaldum made 237 appearances for Liverpool across all competitions, scoring 22 goals.

"I will miss the player he is like crazy – highest-quality ability, one of the smartest players I have ever had the privilege to coach. His contribution was off the scale, a manager's dream," Klopp said.

"But as a person he'll leave just as big a hole. A more giving individual you could not wish to meet. Gini is very strong and opinionated, but his motivation is only to help the team – always. His team-mates adored him and respected him in equal measure.

"His smile lit up our workplace. He was a huge part of our beating heart. Of course, he is now someone else's and on behalf of the team we wish him great success in France with PSG.

"It is no surprise he's joined such an amazing club. Knowing his personality, he will fall in love with the city and the team – and they with him. Farewell, Gini: you came, you saw, you won the lot. You're a Liverpool legend now and forever."

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