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Last Updated: 26/07/19 3:44pmRoberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have not had much rest
Liverpool’s front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have had a busy summer and are in need of a rest but what can Jurgen Klopp do? Adam Bate on the problem facing the Reds boss at the start of a hectic season with little margin for error…
Divock Origi, Ben Woodburn and Rhian Brewster have all been on target for Liverpool during pre-season but after defeats to Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, Jurgen Klopp can hardly hide the fact that he would prefer his first-choice front three to be ready for the new season. Unfortunately, that will be tricky after yet another summer of international exertions.0:40 Get ready for a bumper new football season with Sky Sports Get ready for a bumper new football season with Sky Sports
Liverpool's star trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have each played in major tournaments for their countries. While Salah's Egypt were eliminated early on despite enjoying home advantage at the Africa Cup of Nations, Mane's Senegal reached the final, and Firmino's Brazil won the Copa America in front of their own supporters.
The result is that while Klopp wants to ramp up Liverpool's preparations for a season that starts with the Community Shield at Wembley next weekend, and also takes in a trip to Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup just one week into the Premier League campaign, he knows he must be cautious about overworking his key men. Clearly, it is far from ideal preparation.
"We sit here and it sounds like I'm having a moan," Klopp says. "It is just the situation, in the long term, is not acceptable. It's not like after three days you can say to them, 'Hey! Come on! Let's start running again!'. They have had a tough summer programme. It's football. It's not riding a bike, so you lose a little bit. It will all come back but it will be a tough start."Just how overworked are they?
Mane's workload is particularly alarming. Since scoring for Liverpool on the opening day of the 2017/18 season, he has made 110 competitive appearances for club and country. For an explosive player so reliant on his sharpness, it has been an extraordinarily demanding schedule that has barely included a break of any kind in that two-year period.Mane has played almost constantly for club and country over the past year
The Community Shield against Manchester City comes just 15 days after the Africa Cup of Nations final. Not for him the rest and recuperation afforded others in June before building towards peak fitness again throughout July. Include pre-season matches and he has not gone longer than four weeks without a game in that time. It has been constant.
Salah bowed out of the competition almost a fortnight earlier, while Firmino's Copa America final was the following day, but with all three players having also featured at the World Cup the previous summer, the fear is that something will have to give. Unless Liverpool take precautions, it could be a dip in form or an injury at a key time during the season.Are Liverpool at a disadvantage?
Liverpool, of course, are not the only Premier League club affected. Sergio Aguero featured for Argentina in the third-place play-off at the Copa America, while Everton's Richarlison and Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus were in action in the final. Jesus' club team-mate Riyad Mahrez was part of the Algeria side that beat Mane's Senegal in Cairo.
It is that late conclusion of the Africa Cup of Nations that causes such a problem. Many top players were on international duty this summer, but the Nations League final between Portugal and Holland was on June 9 - almost six weeks prior to the game in Egypt.Sky Sports Fantasy Football is Back
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It is the identity of the players that matters too. Mahrez is a talent but he is hardly integral to City's side. With Mane, it is different. Indeed, the players whose pre-season has been disrupted most are particularly important to Liverpool - unusually so for a top team.Liverpool's reliance on big three
Salah and Mane were the joint-top scorers in the Premier League last season alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, underlining Liverpool's reliance on their star forwards. Add Firmino's goals and the trio scored 56 of Liverpool's goals in the competition last season, as well as a further 13 between them in the run to Champions League glory.
The statistics show that the three men scored 62 per cent of Liverpool's goals in the Premier League - a greater percentage than any of their rivals. While Manchester City can find goals from all over their team, Liverpool's system is built around their front three with little scoring contribution from the midfielders. Klopp needs his stars to be fit and firing.A greater proportion of Liverpool's goals are scored by their front three
It is worth pointing out that Origi provided emphatic evidence that he can step up last season. As well as scoring in the Champions League final, he had a decisive role in the semi-final comeback against Barcelona, and also netted memorable late goals against Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League. The hope will be that Klopp can lean on him again.
With Brewster back from injury, Xherdan Shaqiri around, and the potential to tweak the system to accommodate Adam Lallana or the fit again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, there are other short-term solutions too. But Liverpool know from bitter experience after going head-to-head with City last season, that just one below-par performance could cost them.Liverpool's opening fixtures
Aug 4 - Man City (n) - Community Shield
Aug 9 - Norwich (h) - Premier League
Aug 14 - Chelsea (n) - UEFA Super Cup
Aug 17 - Southampton (a) - Premier League
Aug 24 - Arsenal (h) - Premier League
Aug 31 - Burnley (a) - Premier LeagueCan they afford to ease them back?
In the race for the Premier League title, they are taking on a City team that has picked up 198 points over the past two seasons. As a result, easing into the coming campaign is not an option. City's excellence has been so sustained, the levels are so high, that rotation, picking and choosing the games that the main men play, comes at a huge risk.
Liverpool beat every bottom-half Premier League team home and away last season, and it still was not enough. They know that when they host Norwich on the opening Friday, they will need to win. The first away game at Southampton after that midweek trip to Turkey for the Super Cup? They will have to win that too. But can they do it without their key men fully fit?Sky Sports Fantasy Football is Back
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Liverpool’s three-stop pre-season tour of the United States has come to a close, and here’s some things we noticed throughout their stay across the Atlantic.
The Reds spent nine days stateside as part of their preparations for the 2019/20 season which saw them take on Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Sporting CP in Indiana, Boston and New York respectively.
As ever, the focus was on preparing for the season ahead which meant multiple training sessions preceded the games, resulting in an uncharacteristic, yet expected, drop in intensity from Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Liverpool mightn’t have registered a win on US soil but there were signs of gradual improvement, albeit greater strides still need to be made as the days until the start of the new campaign continue to dwindle down.
Here’s six things that caught our attention as Liverpool went stateside to continue their pre-season preparations.Brewster’s Confidence Continues to Rise
The 19-year-old may have played just 88 out of a possible 270 minutes in America, but he made it abundantly clear that life in the first team does not intimidate him.
Rhian Brewster was the star during the Reds’ two domestic friendlies preceding the US tour having notched three goals, and he quickly added another with a confident strike from the spot against Borussia Dortmund.
He thrived against Sevilla having come on for the second half, excelling in one-on-one situations and showcasing exactly why many have tipped him for great things despite not finding himself on the scoresheet.
Confidence is key for any forward player and after spending the majority of last season in the medical room it is a welcome sight to see the youngster brimming with self-assurance.
May it continue long into the season.Wilson and Kent Not the Answer
In the absence of Liverpool’s prolific attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, as well as Xherdan Shaqiri through injury, the opportunity to stake a claim for a spot was presented to both Harry Wilson and Ryan Kent.
The pair both experienced successful loan spells with Derby and Rangers respectively last season, but they’ve shown they’re not at the quality Liverpool need when they are looking to seriously compete across several fronts next term.
Wilson, as expected with his age and experience, is ahead of Kent in the pecking order and while it is only pre-season and there’s no way you could expect the moon and stars from them, they have shown they are not the answer.
Proven more so by the fact Gini Wijnaldum shone in place of the pair against Sporting CP.
There’s no doubt they’ve each impressed in patches in the US, but Liverpool need an addition to the attack this summer whose quality isn’t such a dramatic drop off from the usual front three.It Was Hot… Really Hot
The Reds arrived in both South Bend, Indiana and Boston in the midst of a heatwave which saw the team play and train in stifling temperatures which reached as high as 34 degrees.
The meeting against Sevilla at Fenway Park coincided with Boston’s hottest day since 1991 and ensured the players’ energy was sapped almost instantly and that they felt the burn in more ways than one.
While the conditions were no doubt testing for the squad throughout their stay across the Atlantic, warm weather training is known to have a multitude of benefits.
Surmising the tour after the final game, Klopp acknowledged that “100 per cent the weather” was the biggest challenge, saying: “I think we hit the two hottest days of the year, pretty much. When we played that was a big challenge and for the sessions as well as the games.
“Pitches are always a challenge in America; they are wonderful stadiums but they are usually not soccer stadiums, so it was a bit tricky.”
Muscles are more pliable, meaning the risk of a strain is reduced, while vitamin D can improve muscle strength and speed, and although dehydration and over-training are potential risks, the team will undoubtedly have been managed accordingly.
And although the players might have felt as though they might be close to melting at times, when the freezing winter months in England come around, they might wish for that feeling to return.Team Comradery on the Up and Up
With the nucleus of the side having played alongside one another for a few years now and the shared success of a European Cup, team spirit is rightly as high as it has ever been.
Klopp fosters an environment which centres around unity and togetherness, and the three-stop tour in America again shone the spotlight on the team’s cohesion and the genuine enjoyment of being in each other’s company.
From Van Dijk ensuring his teammates were lathered in sunscreen to players talking about their delight overseeing Gomez and Oxlade-Chamberlain back in the fold from the off and commending the youngsters for seizing the chance to impress.
There’s no better time to be a Red and it is a delight to see the players enjoying and sharing the moment with each other, here’s hoping it paves the way for another successful season.Lallana Still Struggling to Break the Cycle
It’s become all too predictable, hasn’t it?
We’ve grown accustomed to Adam Lallana being unavailable having watched on as he made a total of just 31 appearances, only nine of which was in the starting XI, across the last two seasons.
His absence means he has been well and truly been bypassed in the pecking order and the fact he played just 14 minutes in America having missed two of the Reds’ games with a dead leg has done nothing to help support his case for a more regular role in the matchday squad this coming season.
He did feature in Liverpool’s two domestic friendlies this summer playing as the deepest midfielder, but it seems his opportunity to find his feet in the role has largely passed him by.
Admittedly, it was a minor injury and one which the club were no doubt cautious over, but it’s hard to see how he will break out of his seemingly never-ending cycle of injuries.No Need for Alarm, but Reds Need to Improve
Liverpool took a 28-man strong side across the Atlantic but remained without the likes of Naby Keita, Salah, Mane, Firmino, Shaqri and Alisson due to injury or a post-season break following international commitments.
Their absence coupled with the delayed start from Jordan Henderson, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Wijnaldum and Van Dijk ensured there were teething issues across midfield and defence in addition to the lack of firepower in attack.
It made for a mix of sloppy defending across the three games – with seven goals conceded – and further questions to arise as for the need for extra bodies to be acquired in the transfer window.
There should be no alarm bells at this stage but the transition from defence to attack and the team’s overall organisation need to be ironed out in the coming weeks.
After fielding what was his strongest possible starting XI against Sporting, Klopp is likely to continue in the same vein against Napoli as he looks to establish some rhythm in his side before the rest of his players make their return to training.
Overall, while Liverpool failed to be convincing in any of their games, youngsters continued to be exposed to life in the first team and senior figures were handed valuable minutes on the field.
Virgil van Dijk has vowed to help Liverpool to “do a little bit better” than they did last season when 2019/20 kicks off, with the centre-back “not satisfied” yet.
JACK LUSBY in New York
Few players have slotted back into action for the Reds this summer as effortlessly as Van Dijk, whose return for the pre-season tour of the US has been immaculate.
The Dutchman glided across pitches in South Bend, Boston and New York, and though results were not up to the standard set in the previous campaign, the target was fitness and fluency.
It was Van Dijk’s second tour with Liverpool, and speaking to This Is Anfield after the 2-2 draw with Sporting CP on Wednesday night, he applauded the reception he and his team-mates received.
“The support, the reaction we got in all the cities was amazing,” he explained, in an interview on the Yankee Stadium concourse.
“All of us wanted to get fit and get minutes in our bags.
“We wanted to get results, we could have done better in certain situations but the most important thing is to get fit, stay fit, and obviously I’m happy that most of us came out of it healthy and well.
“Obviously our thoughts are with Clyney and hope he will get a speedy recovery. The rest of us will get back now and focus on Sunday.”
Nathaniel Clyne has joined a long list of players to suffer injuries during the Reds’ pre-season, with the right-back facing at least six months on the sidelines after rupturing his ACL.
This leaves Liverpool’s increasingly short for the season opener against Man City in Community Shield on August 4—a warmup Van Dijk described as “a game we want to win.”
“We’re not far away now from the Community Shield game and that’s when [the season] gets started really,” he continued.
“The important thing is I played 75 minutes, that was the most important thing for me personally.
“Now time to head back, see the family for one day and then we go back on the road.”
The Liverpool squad flew back to Merseyside directly after the clash in New York, but as Van Dijk revealed, they are set for a tight turnaround as they head to Edinburgh this weekend to play Napoli.
The arrival of many of last season’s most important players gives the Reds a different complexion ahead of their trip to Wembley next month.
“Everything we did last season doesn’t count this season,” the 28-year-old told This Is Anfield.
“We will get respect from certain teams but at the end of the day we have to show it on the pitch, the quality that we have.”
Van Dijk certainly doesn’t appear short of fitness following a brief break during the off-season, and his contributions at the back will be vital if Liverpool are to improve on the last campaign.
“Hopefully [we can] do a little bit better than we did last year,” he concluded.
“We know it’s going to be tough but the only thing we can do is work hard, try it, and it sounds pretty simple like that but that’s the aim.
“We’re not satisfied, but obviously we can be proud of what we achieved last season.”
Van Dijk’s attitude is, of course, what should be expected from a top-level professional, as resting on his laurels would be damaging.
The new season will be taken step by step, and while our No. 4 rejected the suggestion victory in the Community Shield would ensure a mental advantage over City, starting the campaign with silverware would be very welcome.
We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Thursday, following the Reds’ 2-2 draw with Sporting CP in New York.
Simon Mignolet produced a howler against Sporting, allowing Bruno Fernandes’ long-range effort to squeeze past him rather embarrassingly, putting the Portuguese side 1-0 up.
The Belgian’s Liverpool future is still in doubt, with some claiming he is open to leaving and others stating he will likely remain as Alisson‘s backup.
The 33-year-old has been a stalwart for the Clarets over the last six years, also winning three caps for England during that time.
He would be a solid second-choice ‘keeper to bring in, but any potential move will depend on what happens with Mignolet.
It’s a move that would make sense if Mignolet does push for a move away.Ox Tackling Calf Problem
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been one of the most vibrant figures during pre-season, producing the dynamic performances that were on show before his cruciate ligament injury in 2017/18.
The 25-year-old was seen limping slightly during Thursday’s clash with Sporting and Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Oxlade-Chamberlain is battling a calf issue.
“He has been a bit unlucky with a calf problem,” said Klopp.
“It is not a tear but something he has it from time to time when the intensity gets too high for him.”
“He had to get through the first 20 minutes (against Sporting) when he was really involved and then he felt it.
“Then he was not part of the game anymore, which is not too cool for the others if there is someone on and off. Apart from that he has made all the sessions, which is unbelievably important. That is very positive.”
It still has to be a case of handling Oxlade-Chamberlain intelligently this season, with an overuse of him potentially disastrous in the long-term.Matip Positive After “Intense” US Tour
Although Liverpool failed to win in three attempts during the tour of America, the Cameroonian is still in positive spirits.
Speaking to LiverpoolFC.com, Matip said improvements are required before the Reds host Norwich on August 9, but they are getting better all the time:
“It was an intense period with good opponents and we worked hard to get a better fitness level and to get back in the mood.
“We still have a lot of work to do and we are working hard. I’m looking forward and we are confident.
“We know it’s a long way to go and we still have a lot to improve, but we’re on a good way.”
Opinion will be split on who starts out of Matip and Gomez moving forward, but the former has to be pole position currently.Reds Apply to Trademark the Name “Liverpool”
Liverpool FC have submitted an application to the Intellectual Property Office to trademark the name “Liverpool”.
That’s according to BusinessLive, who claim the move is to “protect the club and supporters from ‘inauthentic products’.”
The club have stated that it is “only in the context of football products and services”, promising that any revenue generated will be channelled back in and reinvested on transfers and improving Anfield.
A report in the Liverpool Echo says that Liverpool would then be able “to take legal action against organisations selling products or services suggesting they are official LFC products because they feature the word ‘Liverpool.”
It’s all a bit wordy, but you get the gist!Match of the Day Under Threat
Match of the Day has been a footballing institution in England for over half a century, with Saturday nights often spent watching highlights from earlier in the day.
Now, the legendary BBC show is reportedly under threat, with the Daily Mail claiming that Sky are planning on putting free three-minute Premier League highlights on YouTube straight after games finish this season.
Should the move go through, Match of the Day’s viewing figures would likely take a hit, possibly threatening its future.
The report does state that Sky believe “fans who watch highlights on their smart phones represent a different demographic to the traditional Match of the Day audience”, which is a fair point.
While the show has its critics, certainly in terms of the analysis from some pundits, it would be a shame to see it go.
A mix of competitiveness and hilarity are on show as four Liverpool players lock horns in the LFC Hip-Hop Quiz 2019.
Daniel Sturridge took home the prize last season, but the striker has left Anfield this summer, meaning a new champion would be crowned.
The Liverpool quartet sat down during the tour of America and what unfolds is a hilarious watch for any Liverpool supporter.
With quizmaster Susannah Collins putting them through their paces, the four Reds favourites battle for supremacy.
The bickering begins immediately in the general knowledge round, due to an incorrect spelling by Gomez, while Van Dijk is laughed at for one of his early answers.
Gomez is ridiculed by his teammates for forgetting the lyrics to a world-famous Drake song, while the naturally funny, much-mocked Brewster has a nightmare of his own in the album round.
It’s Van Dijk who trails after three rounds, however, with Oxlade-Chamberlain admitting it is the first time he has seen the centre-back “flustered”.
Predictably, it’s Brewster who provides the biggest laugh for those around him, leading to hysterics when he incorrectly guesses Cardi B, a woman, when shown a photograph of a male rapper as a youngster.
He and Van Dijk are eliminated, leaving Gomez and Oxlade-Chamberlain to fight for the ‘prestigious’ prize.
In the end, it’s Ox who ends up the victor, taking Sturridge’s crown in the process and dedicating his victory to Liverpool’s former No. 15—whose squad number Oxlade-Chamberlain has now inherited.
As is the case with so much of the content the club releases these days, this further highlights the team spirit that exists in Liverpool’s squad.
There is nothing fake about the friendships on show and Klopp has created an environment where a group of hugely likely individuals are pulling in the same direction.
Liverpool FC can confirm Paul Glatzel has successfully undergone surgery after an injury suffered in the pre-season friendly against Tranmere Rovers.
The 18-year-old will now commence his rehabilitation at Melwood at the request of manager Jürgen Klopp.
Glatzel was making his debut in the Liverpool first team when he sustained damage to a knee ligament during the second half of the game at Prenton Park on July 11.
The striker captained the U18s to FA Youth Cup victory last season, scoring the decisive penalty in the shootout that decided the final. He also broke into the U23s by the end of the campaign.
Neil Critchley, manager of Liverpool U23s, said: “Paul will receive all the support he needs from ourselves as an Academy and from the medical staff at Melwood during what will be a tough period of rehab.
“Luckily, we know Paul has the strength of character to overcome this setback and we look forward to seeing his talents back out on the pitch.”
Klopp enjoyed the greatest night of his managerial career on June 1, clinching Champions League glory and European Cup number six for the Reds.
After a questionable recent record in finals it was a huge moment for the German, as well as the players and fans.
Although the memorable evening against Spurs is not yet two months old, Klopp wants to move on from discussing it.
Speaking to the media after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Sporting CP in New York, the 52-year-old says it’s time to look towards the future:
“After this trip nobody should talk to me too often anymore about the Champions League trophy, that’s now finished, we don’t carry it with us all the time still, so we really can start writing a new book or chapter or whatever.”
Klopp’s words are encouraging, considering he could easily bask in the glory of being a European champion and allow Liverpool to stand still.
Instead, he is looking ahead to bigger and better things, building on the success rather than seeing it as the peak for this side.
The Reds’ pre-season tour of America is now over, with no victories recorded in the three matches against Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Sporting.
Klopp was still in a positive mindset regarding the trip, however, but admitted he is looking forward to the next stage of the summer preparations and hinted as to his lineup plans for the next two friendlies:
“It was an intense time, an intense week, three games in a pretty short period after a couple of days’ training in Liverpool. For the boys who were in from the first day, it was absolutely OK; for the others it was maybe a bit too much, but we had to do it anyway for different reasons.
“So, all good. It was nice to meet all the people who are obviously with us. Tonight it was an outstanding atmosphere, we were stuck a bit in traffic [travelling to the stadium] and I think probably all the people as well who decided to come here. And to show up in the kind [of way] they showed up was nice. That’s really good.
“From a sports point of view I’m happy to go back because a different time zone, you need a couple of days to adapt to it and now we are in it, now we leave.
“But it’s all OK, we have an important week ahead of us; we go to Evian in France and have a proper training camp there.
“Before that, we have a very tricky game against Napoli. The game against Lyon we pretty much organised only because of the boys who came back, hopefully they can all feature for some minutes in that game, it would be really important.”
Further discussing aspects of Liverpool’s time in the United States, the Reds manager touched upon why his team have struggled at times.
He made a concerted effort to laud the supporters who have cheered on their heroes, however, and looked ahead to getting key men fit again:
“In Notre Dame and Boston it was 100 per cent the weather. I think we hit the two hottest days of the year, pretty much. When we played that was a big challenge and for the session as well as the games.
“Pitches are always a challenge in America; they are wonderful stadiums but they are usually not soccer stadiums, so it was a bit tricky. Tonight it was really funny because the pitch was not symmetric, but everybody did a really good job to make it happen.
“[The stadium] was really good and I liked it a lot. It is not allowed for me to say too many good things about the Yankees because we are obviously Red Sox, but from a professional point of view they were really nice to us. It was a very good experience, especially for the young boys.
“It was really nice to be here, but it is good as well to go back because we play in England and Europe, so [to go back to] train and play in conditions we are used to.”
There is still time to get fully up and running before the campaign starts, though, and a few players clearly need more minutes—and perhaps a more forgiving environment to feature in.
Additionally, the entire strikeforce and goalkeeper Alisson are yet to return, while a couple of seniors remain sidelined through injury.
“Everything is fine. We have had injuries, especially with Clyney now and Paul Glatzel, a young kid, but apart from that we came through so far, that’s really important to us.
“Now we get back, hopefully, six players when we get home: Naby Keita should be ready to train hopefully, Shaqiri should be ready to train and then hopefully to play. Mo [Salah], Bobby [Firmino] and Ali [Alisson], and then a week later Sadio Mane as well.
“They are obviously really important players for us. So far, so good, but we have things to improve and we have to make sure we are ready for the start and then continue. That’s it.”
Liverpool will now prepare to face Napoli at Murrayfield on Sunday evening, as the Reds swap America for Edinburgh.
Then it’s a trip to Evian for a training camp, as Klopp alluded to, with the Premier League opener at home to Norwich (August 9) fast approaching.
The media were of the view that Liverpool showed signs of improvement during their 2-2 draw with Sporting CP, but they are still a ways off being ready for the season opener.
Jurgen Klopp’s side closed the curtains on their pre-season tour of the United States with a 2-2 draw against Sporting CP in New York, a game which saw a host of senior figures handed valuable minutes from the off as the new season draws closer.
It was Sporting who found themselves on the scoreboard first, however, after an individual error from Simon Mignolet saw Bruno Fernandes’ effort find the back of the net, before Divock Origi levelled later in the half.
Gini Wijnaldum edged Liverpool ahead moments before the interval only for Sporting to return the favour in the second 45 to ensure the Reds left the US without a win.
The Reds will now return to Merseyside before they face Napoli in Edinburgh ahead of their training camp in France.
Here’s how the media reacted to the draw at Yankee Stadium and Liverpool’s tour across the Atlantic as a whole.Journalists lauded the performance of Wijnaldum after thriving in an advanced role…
Wijnaldum was positioned in a more advanced role in New York and the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle was full of praise for the Dutchman who he felt provided “food for thought” for the boss:
The Dutchman stepped back in time to reprise the wide left role where he featured regularly earlier in his career.
It paid dividends when he was the furthest man forward to stretch the Sporting defence for the equaliser before netting the second himself.
An added option for Klopp or putting into context the alternatives? The Reds boss has been given some serious food for thought.
Similarly, ESPN’s Melissa Reddy thought Wijnaldum thrived in the role and provides another alternative in the position ahead of the new season:
He broke the lines well and continuously created space for himself, which gives Klopp another option in the position.
While Karl Matchett, writing for This Is Anfield, was not shy in voicing an “absurdly early” prediction for the midfielder:
Ready for an absurdly early new season prediction? The No. 5 will be scoring at least eight this season and perhaps even pushing double figures.
And for Liverpool.com’s Kristian Walsh, a host of other senior figures earned his admiration for their performances:
Henderson, in particular, is excellent, looking at his sharpest in one of the advanced midfield roles. Fabinho is not far behind him, literally and metaphorically.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is delivering like the world’s greatest mailman, and Origi is showing he still has that skill of being in the right place inside the penalty area.Reporters couldn’t overlook Mignolet’s blunder and also voiced concerns over the situation at full-back…
Writing for the Telegraph, Chris Bascombe thought Mignolet “resembled a mannequin” when he conceded the first goal, but did commend the Belgian for later redeeming himself with a double save:
He resembled a mannequin when conceding Liverpool’s opening goal. To give the error its full description, it is what is now technically called ‘doing a Karius’.
But credit the Belgian who was able to erase the blemish with a double reflex save to preserve Liverpool’s lead at half-time.
For the Mirror’s Mark Jones, there were two ways you could look at the error from Mignolet:
The first is that if you’re going to make such an error then you might as well do it in a pre-season friendly – and not, say, a Champions League final.
But the second is that if you’re going to make such a mistake when you get a rare chance to play then it probably shows just why your opportunities are scarce to begin with.
Doyle, meanwhile, was quick to focus on the lack of options at full-back following a plethora of injuries and the lack of action in the transfer window:
It was noticeable when Robertson was replaced that James Milner moved to left-back, a reminder of the shortage of full-back options brought into sharp focus by injuries on this tour to Yasser Larouci and Nathaniel Clyne.
And for Matchett it raised the question of if Liverpool should be looking to add to their ranks at full-back this summer:
And there the question shall remain: should the Reds be looking for an additional squad member to fill that particular gap in the squad?
Certainly they look short of full-back cover.
Doyle thought Liverpool showed signs of improvement against Sporting but felt there remains plenty to work on with just 15 days until the Reds’ league opener at Anfield:
While better than in defeat against Dortmund and Sevilla, there remains plenty on which Klopp has to work.
The continued absence of Liverpool’s key players must be taken into account, although none will have returned in time for the next friendly against Napoli at Murrayfield on Sunday.
But as the Reds embark on their long journey home, Klopp knows his team aren’t firing just yet.
Those views were echoed by Bascombe, who was also of the mind that the Reds were finally starting to look “more like Klopp’s Liverpool”:
Despite another winless encounter in front of a partisan crowd, there was an improvement against Sporting Lisbon.
It was a bit more like Klopp’s Liverpool even if miles from the real deal – the unusual features being defensive carelessness and obvious lack of a killer instinct without the familiar front three.
For Reddy, the lack of sustained intensity in Liverpool’s performances throughout the tour is “no surprise” considering the focus on training prior to each fixture:
The friendlies have been an extension of training according to the manager and considering the club have had two sessions on the eve of an encounter as well on the morning of the fixture, it is no surprise that the players have not shown their trademark high intensity.
Despite failing to win a game on US soil, Walsh was of the view that it should no pose as a problem as both players and their rhythm will return in good time:
No US win, but it should be no problem. The front three and Alisson Becker will return soon. Players will find their rhythm. Those gaps will start closing, those mistakes reduced.
Last Updated: 25/07/19 2:55pmJurgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho will not be coming back this summer
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ruled out bringing Philippe Coutinho back to Anfield this summer, saying it is not the year for a "big-money signing".
Coutinho, 27, has endured a difficult 18 months in Barcelona since joining from Liverpool for £146m in January 2018, and he faces an uncertain future at the Nou Camp with the Spanish champions said to be offering Paris Saint-Germain £90m plus players in a bid to bring Neymar back to the club.
Kia Joorabchian, Coutinho's agent, told Sky Sports News in July that Barcelona have been sending mixed signals regarding their plans for the Brazil international, but ruled out a move to any of Liverpool's direct rivals.
Now it appears Coutinho is unlikely to return to the Premier League, at least this summer, because Liverpool are tightening the purse strings after a big summer of spending 12 months ago.
"In general, Phil Coutinho helps each team in the world, still - 100 per cent," Klopp told ESPN FC.Coutinho could be used in a swap deal for Neymar
"It's not about that. I like Phil, I think he's a fantastic footballer and all that stuff, but it would be a big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big-money signing and it's not our year for that.
"It's just not possible. As I said, having him would make each team better - us included - but I really hope that he finds his luck at Barcelona.
"Or maybe he found it there. We have contact, but not that close contact that I know exactly how he is doing, but the rest is only newspaper talk and stuff like that.
"If everything was true what newspapers write about me - wow! If it's similar to what they write about me, I would say he's completely happy at Barcelona and wants to sign a new six-year contract or whatever."'Clyne injury will not influence our transfers'
Speaking after Liverpool ended their US pre-season tour with a 2-2 draw against Sporting Lisbon at the Yankee Stadium, Klopp gave an update on Nathaniel Clyne after he suffered a cruciate ligament injury.0:56 Klopp says Nathaniel Clyne's injury will not impact Liverpool's transfer dealings Klopp says Nathaniel Clyne's injury will not impact Liverpool's transfer dealings
"Clyney himself thought it was a knock at the time," said Klopp. "Nothing else. It looked a normal situation.
"Of all the injuries you can get, ACL is the one you don't want. But if you are going to get an ACL, he has the best one to be honest.
"His is isolated, it's not 100% ruptured, but he will need surgery and it will take time. I don't think it will have a big influence on his career, but it's not a good moment for the player or for us as a team.
"You can prepare as much as you want but there are always problems. This is one of them.
Asked if it will have an influence on Liverpool's transfer dealings, Klopp added: "None whatsoever."Fantasy Football: Liverpool headache?
Coutinho may not be in Jurgen Klopp's plans, but Sadio Mane (£11.5m), Mohamed Salah (£12.2m) and Roberto Firmino (£10.9m) certainly are, with Champions League final scorer Divock Origi (£9.3m) keen for the chance to impress this season, too. Which forward will make your Sky Sports Fantasy Football side?Sky Sports Fantasy Football is Back
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