Liverpool have left of a lot of their transfer dealings to the end of the window, and a number of those searching for game time are expected to depart in the coming weeks.
On the outgoing front, the club has bid farewell to Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Ovie Ejaria, Andy Lonergan and Nathaniel Clyne on a permanent basis, while youngsters Tony Gallacher, Morgan Boyes, Adam Lewis, Taiwo Awoniyi and Sheyi Ojo have all moved on loan.
But with the end of the summer transfer window nearing on October 5 – with domestic deals running until October 16 – the Reds still have a number of players to offload either permanently or on loan.
Here we run you through 14 players who we can expect to ply their trade elsewhere in 2020/21 – and beyond for some.Loris Karius
The 27-year-old spent the last two seasons on loan with Besiktas before terminating his deal early, ending a turbulent stint which saw him on the end of wages disputes and, at times, widespread criticism.
Karius trained with the squad throughout pre-season and remains at Melwood, but the position is he will be sold once a buyer is found as there is no short- or long-term future at Anfield.
Ligue 1’s Montpellier were credited with interest early in the window, but a £6 million price tag has not seen any potential deal move forward as of yet.Yasser Larouci
The left-back made his intentions known earlier in the summer after refusing to sign a new deal with Liverpool, which in part triggered a move for Tsimikas.
Larouci had been regularly involved with first-team training and made two senior appearances last season, but all parties agreed a permanent switch would be best.
The 19-year-old is in the final year of his deal and as such the club could be forced to accept a cut-price deal in the region of £2 million.
Brentford and Leeds are reported suitors.Nat Phillips
Phillips enjoyed a successful loan spell with Stuttgart last season, one which saw the centre-back feature 22 times for the German side as they secured promotion back to the Bundesliga.
At 23, regular senior football will be at the top of his agenda and despite ongoing discussions surrounding Liverpool’s first-team needs at centre-back, Phillips is not the solution.
He has, however, attracted widespread interest from the Championship and across Europe.
Nottingham Forest had headlined interest but a pursuit of defender Scott McKenna could scupper any deal.Xherdan Shaqiri
This one seems to be a case of if the fee is right.
Shaqiri was on the periphery of Jurgen Klopp‘s plans last season and, in addition to a series of injuries, made just 11 appearances – and with Takumi Minamino and Diogo Jota now in the mix in addition to Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, opportunities could be hard to come by.
Liverpool had set an asking price of £27 million earlier in the year, but will need to except a lot less within the current climate to get a deal over the line.Marko Grujic
Two back-to-back loan spells with Hertha Berlin saw Grujic earn invaluable experience as a member of the Bundesliga club’s midfield, making a total of 54 appearances.
There has been interest from the German side in keeping him at the Olympiastadion, but they have not been able to strike a deal amid a valuation of £20 million – Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Monchengladbach, Atalanta, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa have all been linked.
His sale would raise valuable funds but recent reports have planted a seed that he could stay until January amid a congested fixture list.Harry Wilson
Wilson is another player Liverpool would like in the region of £20 million for and their stance appears to be that they will keep him on board should his valuation not be met, instead of another loan.
The 23-year-old spent 2019/20 with Bournemouth, making a total of 35 appearances in what was his third successive temporary switch following time with Hull and Derby.
He has been training at Melwood with the first team and could be used in the League Cup before making a move, with Aston Villa, Leeds, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Southampton all said to have sent out feelers.Ben Woodburn (Loan)
It’s been a topsy-turvy few years for Woodburn, with two successive foot injuries derailing what had looked to be a promising loan switch to Oxford last season.
The 20-year-old trained with the under-23s throughout the summer and has since captained the side in their opening two games of the season – but new pastures are needed to breathe life into his career.
He is expected to join Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam on a season-long loan, the club where Gini Wijnaldum started out and one which was encouraged by Pep Lijnders.Divock Origi
Origi saw himself drop further down the pecking order in Klopp’s attacking following the arrival of Jota, with even a place in the matchday squad now uncertain.
The forward signed a new deal last summer but Liverpool seemingly would not be opposed to parting with their No. 27 should the right deal come along.
Movement could be expected following their League Cup obligations this month, where Aston Villa, Brighton, Fulham and Wolves have been spoken of as potential suitors – the only question is if anyone will meet Liverpool’s valuation.Herbie Kane
Kane has featured twice for the first team having played in the League Cup ties against Aston Villa and MK Dons last season, but the midfielder does not have a long-term future at Anfield.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a successful half-season loan with Hull in the Championship at the back end of 2019/20, only for a hamstring injury to bring it to a premature end.
The Tigers would then drop into League One and despite their desire to keep Kane, finances and their new position could dictate otherwise – the player has publicly flirted with a return to Bristol City.Sepp van den Berg (Loan)
The Dutchman has not seen everything go his way since landing on Merseyside last summer, and he now finds himself further down in the pecking order behind 17-year-old Billy Koumetio.
Another season at under-23 level would provide game time, but the centre-back could benefit from proving himself in a senior environment elsewhere before staking a claim at Liverpool.
A club on the continent could fit the bill and act as a confidence-booster.Liam Millar (Loan)
Millar has started the 2020/21 season at the academy with Barry Lewtas’ under-23s, featuring in their opening two games.
But another loan, after spending time with Kilmarnock and playing 36 games, is expected for the winger and he looks to continue his development alongside his international exploits at senior level with Canada.
The Championship is beckoning for the 20-year-old, though the process of finding a club is slow.Rhian Brewster
This one is the most divisive of the bunch: a loan or permanent switch?
The latter has gained momentum in recent days, with both Crystal Palace and Sheffield United reported frontrunners in a deal which is likely to include both buy-back and sell-on clauses.
The talented forward would return a sizeable fee and would be in accordance with the club’s transfer policy, but there remains resistance from supporters to part with the 20-year-old after showing considerable promise.
It will come down to if the fee is right and how Brewster wants to get first-team football under his belt.Anderson Arroyo (Loan)
The full-back was signed in 2018, but having struggled to get a work permit he has become a forgotten face within the extended squad – with three different loan spells so far.
First-team experience is key for his hopes of being granted a permit in the UK and he is now expected to join Portuguese top-flight side Tondela on a season-long loan.
There, he will work with Pako Ayestaran, Liverpool’s assistant manager under Rafa Benitez.Kamil Grabara (Loan)
The 21-year-old goalkeeper enjoyed a positive spell with Huddersfield in the Championship last season before a nasty head knock derailed his campaign.
Having now recovered and with a well-stocked goalkeeping group at the club, he is set to join Greek side PAOK on loan – having also earned interest from the Championship – although a permanent switch is unlikely to be off the table.
Another season in a first-team setup and competing with other senior ‘keepers, if just a loan, will hold Grabara in good stead should he wish to challenge for a spot in Klopp’s side in the future.
Liverpool will still bring in another forward amid a host of potential exits, according to the current transfer rumours of the day.French media say Reds agree Sarr fee
Liverpool’s signing of Diogo Jota last week seemed to have put an end to the need and probability of bringing in Ismaila Sarr.
The deal will be €35-40 million, they say, but Aston Villa are also keen.
We have our doubts this is still one being pursued, but you never know…Top news on site
…after all, if Sarr signs, where is Kylian Mbappe going to fit into the team?!
The PSG man has been linked with the Reds on and off for the last year or so, though never with any reliability or expectation on the part of fans.
But it could change now, with a perfect storm perhaps setting Liverpool up to make a club record move for one of the world’s best talents – next year.
#Mbappe2021 is on the agenda after the Reds and PSG were reported to be in regular contact over a move at the end of the season.
The striker’s Nike links, friendship with LeBron James, admiration of Jurgen Klopp and a whole host of other factors are cited as signs why it’s a deal made to work.
We’ll wait and see!Hendo sets the example
Mixed news on the Reds front today, across transfers, injuries and moreQuickfire LFC news
And any plans for football fans to return to stadiums are essentially off the board for the rest of the calendar year, meaning we’ll likely be the only league having to deal with such incompetence of failing to manage the public health crisis for the entirety of 2020.Tweet of the day
Fowler's debut on this day 27 years ago also gives us an excuse to watch this again ?
The touch ?pic.twitter.com/3IDmvuj3v8
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) September 22, 2020Worth watching tonight
League Cup if you’re desperate.
Liverpool academy midfielder Tom Hill, who scored eight and assisted five in 28 appearances last season, is set to miss most of the campaign with an ACL injury.
Hill was a revelation as a first-year scholar last term, with only Layton Stewart and Curtis Jones finding the back of the net more often at academy level.
Only five players created more goals than the 17-year-old, too, and in December he made a shock start for the first team as part of the youth side that took on Aston Villa in the League Cup fifth round.
This season he was expected to make an even bigger impact, wearing the captain’s armband for Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s under-18s side during pre-season and also being in contention for a regular role with the under-23s.
Now, though, Hill will spend most, if not all, of 2020/21 on the sidelines, having undergone surgery on an ACL injury sustained in training.
Taking to Instagram, the roving midfielder wrote: “Operation went well, long road to recovery now but I’ll be back stronger than ever.”
It is a bitter blow for Hill, who has been tipped for big things by both U23s manager Barry Lewtas and club legend Jamie Carragher, with the former attesting to his impact since a call-up to the U18s squad for the Dallas Cup in 2019.
“He played against New York City. It was their under-19 team and we basically played an under-17 side, but Tom was brilliant,” Lewtas told Goal‘s Neil Jones in May.
“He really impressed me that day with his attitude and commitment, and when he came back for pre-season, he carried that on.
“He’s very coachable, his attitude is spot on and his levels are good. He earned his place in the team.
“Credit to him, every challenge that’s been put down in front of him he’s risen to.”
In June, Carragher named Hill alongside Stewart and James Norris as youngsters the club has “high hopes for,” and fortunately for the teenager, he still has time on his side.
His layoff is similar to that of Paul Glatzel, who suffered an ACL injury in pre-season with the first team last summer, and is now working his way back to full fitness with the U23s.
On a brighter note, Liverpool confirmed the latest youngster to put pen to paper on their first professional contract on Tuesday, that being U18s midfielder Luca Stephenson.
His industrious style in the middle of the park was crucial as the U18s thrashed Stoke 5-0 in their league opener on Saturday, pressing to win possession in the buildup to Stewart’s opener and forcing the corner for one of Dominic Corness’ two goals direct from set-pieces.
The Reds underlined their superiority as a team with a dominant win at Chelsea; Steven Scragg looks at how individual changes within the unit helped that happen.
Footballing evolution is an artform.
Get it wrong and a period of domination can quickly evaporate; get it right and one or two seasons at the top of the tree can stretch on for a decade or two.
In some quarters of the Liverpool support there were summer anxieties over what appeared to be an unwillingness by the club to invest in new signings. Strengthening the squad while at our highest point in 30 years had to be a no-brainer, right?High Anxiety vs High Finance
Some football finance watchers had read the tea leaves and concluded that it was entirely understandable that Liverpool were going to end the transfer window with only the purchase of a back-up left-back.
Sage ‘top reds’ nodded in agreement, while for others the blood boiled and the fume could be seen from miles away. On both sides of this divide, hypotheticals had been taken as certainties.
Just beyond mid-September, a good three weeks or so before the transfer window is due to close, the landscape changed and all hypotheticals were swept away. Within 24 hours Liverpool’s in-house production team had thrown together welcome to Anfield videos of Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota, to much revelry.
Good things come to those who wait.
A week ago, I stated that as things stood, Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson were more important to the Anfield cause than Thiago was, simply because the Italian-born, Brazilian-inspired, Spanish international was not yet a Liverpool player.
I’m a great believer in that until Liverpool are the registered club of any potential new signing, then that player is unable to influence what happens on the pitch. It is a simple footballing law. Thiago was thus completely ineffective against Leeds United, on the opening day.Evolution in Motion
There is far more to footballing evolution than bringing in new players though.
It is also about the growth of existing squad members; it is about tweaking the system subtly, it is also about the collective being hungry for more success, it is all about maintaining the levels of insatiability that won Liverpool the Champions League and Premier League within an unforgettable 14-month-span.
And, inescapably, it is all about Klopp’s thirst for more, bigger and better, staying arid enough to strive for as many silver-laden horizons as possible, before he burns himself out.
One day, Liverpool will forget the art of evolution, just as they did as the 1980s turned into the 1990s, just as Manchester United did during the endgame seasons of Alex Ferguson’s reign.
Our task is to fend off that day, the day when the art of evolution slips from the Anfield consciousness.
Luckily, that is a day that doesn’t look likely to be happening any time soon, as this Liverpool, the reigning champions, continue to shapeshift from one visage to the next with an almost obscene ease.
A change of personnel here, a higher defensive line there; a rotation of the midfield here, a switch of position there; it all plays its part in footballing evolution.
While the speed and geometry of the game alters and contorts, the theory of the game changes very little. Players will always be human; the mind will always be pliable and receptive to magic. Spinning plates will always be spinning plates.
Fabinho switching to cover centre-back was a raging success on Sunday. Imperious in one-on-one ones with the once widely coveted Timo Werner, excellent with his positioning, cool when bringing the ball out of defence, a sense of presence and authority that outshone the central defensive high llama that is Virgil van Dijk.He’s Played There Forever
Thiago’s 45-minute introduction to the Liverpool team was quite rightly compared to that of a player who has been at the club since the day Klopp arrived. Fabinho’s performance in central defence should be lauded in the same manner. He looked a natural and it gives plenty of food for thought.
There is absolutely nothing to stop Fabinho switching from being a central midfielder that can cover in central defence, to a central defender that can cover in central midfield.
Liverpool have previous for such things.
Emlyn Hughes dropped into centre-back from what was a-once marauding role in central midfield. Phil Thompson started out as a compelling midfielder; Jan Molby was always an effective option in the backline when asked, to the point that he was once pursued by Johan Cruyff to be his sweeper at Barcelona.
Jamie Carragher is another example, while I always felt that Steven Gerrard could have elongated his time at Anfield as a central defender.
Just how far this Liverpool has come is very telling in that a win at Stamford Bridge isn’t something to be viewed as an ‘event’.
Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s biggest weakness. Roman Abramovich has driven down a cul-de-sac in his flashy yacht and it is a union that can only end in tears, which then will be followed by yet another new direction.
Sadio Mane was magnificent in dismantling the increasingly wound-up Lampard’s expensively assembled team.Lincoln City and Other Bigger Challenges
A deserved win for the Reds and to Lincoln City a totally different line-up will go.
That comes before another statement is to be made next Monday at Anfield, against an increasingly confident Arsenal, where evolution will meet evolution.
Mikel Arteta’s team will be a bigger test than Chelsea were.
Liverpool’s new Nike range of first-team kits have (as usual) divided opinion among the fanbase, but overall sales suggest they seem to be big wins with supporters.
The Reds ended their partnership with New Balance at the end of 2019/20 in favour of starting up with the sportswear giants Nike and some results were quickly seen as to why the club chose that direction.
LeBron James was pictured wearing a shirt soon after the home kit’s release, an early example of how the worldwide branding was sure to be on the up.
Now the club have confirmed that the new kits have all broken club records for sales, with each of the home, away and third jerseys showing “significant sales numbers”.
The official online store point to record traffic numbers on launch day, as well as purchases being higher, while the ‘Nike Express lifestyle collection’ has also been a big success.
Pleasingly, there’s also a collaborative effort between club and kit-maker to ensure a few locals get their hands on the kit. One hundred youngsters who have “made a difference to the community” were selected through their schools to receive the new kits, while there have also been efforts to encourage local coaching education and other initiatives since the Liverpool x Nike link-up.
The club’s claim of record kit sales is in contrast to recent local reports, with the Echo‘s Paul Gorst suggesting the Reds were down 12 per cent compared to last year and down 30 per cent on the goalkeeper kit.
It hasn’t all been plain-sailing, though, with the kit selling out in certain sizes – though this is in part due to stock shortfalls caused by coronavirus interrupting supply chains, according to Mike Cox, the club’s merchandising vice president, and new lines are on the way soon.
“This hugely significant demand has caused some operational complexities for us as we continue to operate under COVID-19 conditions, and it has also meant that we have sold out of some key home kit sizes.
“However, we’re working very closely with Nike on this and expect to receive a re-stock in October. We thank our supporters for their support and patience.”
The record sales point to further growth for the Reds, with these non-matchday revenue streams particularly important in 2020 with no supporters allowed inside the ground on matchdays at present.
Liverpool might have done all the incoming business they intend to according to the latest reports – but Rhian Brewster‘s future remains clouded.Ozan Kabak not on agenda this summer
Liverpool have been linked with a string of centre-backs all summer long, particularly since Dejan Lovren departed.
One of those who has been mentioned as being in the frame is Schalke’s talented young defender Ozan Kabak, but he’s not en route this summer.
In fact, no centre-back is likely to be, with the Athletic‘s James Pearce saying the Reds are happy with their options and don’t intend to buy another defender.
Fabinho, then, will continue as the fourth-choice central defensive option it seems, while Billy Koumetio could see senior action from time to time, too.Brewster wanted by Palace…but no bid yet
Earlier on Monday, Sky Sports released details of an “official bid” by Crystal Palace for the striker, which included a buyback option for the Reds—before the Palace club chairman shut them down on Twitter, saying the offer was “fabrication”.
Sky were embarrassingly forced to backtrack and have changed their news story somewhat, to now saying Palace are prepared to bid, with the same figures involved.
The buyback clause is £37 million and the Reds would have first refusal, while Palace would pay up to £25m including add-ons.
However, there’s also a note that Jurgen Klopp hasn’t fully decided on Brewster’s involvement for the season, so a loan is still possible…as is him staying around.Best of the match reaction
The Reds were worthy winners at Stamford Bridge yesterday; here’s the best of the fall-out as we moved to two wins from two.Quickfire LFC news
James Milner. pic.twitter.com/uTdurSBIkp
— Caoimhe O'Neill (@CaoimheSport) September 21, 2020Worth watching tonight
Prem games at 6 and just after 8, with free-spending Aston Villa taking on Sheffield United first and then Wolves playing Man City, who finally start their season.
It took only 45 minutes for Thiago to write his name in the record books having hit the ground running on his Liverpool debut, and it was a positive sign of things to come.
Last Friday was akin to Christmas morning, the anticipation of what was to come elicited a childlike excitement for many, whereas Sunday was Boxing Day, the day where you can finally sit back, take stock and be grateful.
The build-up was long and well-documented, a ‘saga’ clouded in financial uncertainty, but the payoff, albeit only 45 minutes to date, was one which left nothing but a deep sense of satisfaction.
‘Thiago Time’ would be signalled for the start of the second half at Stamford Bridge, as he stepped into the vacant position left following Jordan Henderson’s withdrawal with a tight thigh, and the Reds immediately stood taller.
It said nothing about the captain, but everything about Thiago.
It’s clear one can’t get too ahead of themselves after a single half of football, which was played against 10 men, but the Spaniard’s cameo provided an early glimpse of what he brings to the table.
“We scored two goals and he was on the pitch and played a good game, and everybody could see what he’s naturally doing.
“We didn’t speak to him about anything, about what we want, just play it. It’s clear when you’re in the centre, he wants to switch, he wants to chip, he wants to do these things. So we let him do it, and he did well.”
The new No. 6 rallied around his teammates before settling into the clash with expert ease, as Klopp had very well anticipated after making the bold move to give him a run-out after merely 49 hours as a Red.
Circumstances provided the ideal starting platform, with Andreas Christensen’s red card, but Thiago operated as though he was a veteran of this Liverpool side in the Premier League and not a player who had only just located his place in the dressing room.
It is what you would expect from a world-class operator and his natural game was one which saw him patrol the middle of the park, demand possession, bark out orders and laud his teammates for their intensity off the ball – which he received in kind from James Milner.
Sadio Mane, who netted the match-winning double, spoke glowingly of his new teammate and the instantaneous awareness that the club have another “great player” on their hands.
“Not only me, all the world knows what he is capable of doing,” he said. “He is one of the best players in the world, so we are lucky to have Thiago in our team. And I think today he showed that he is a great player.”
You could sense a switch had been flipped after a first-half which saw Liverpool dominate possession but have little in the way of clear cut chances to show for it.
Everything went through the 29-year-old, he was head of quality control – so much so that he set a new record for the most successful passes in a 45 minute or less performance since records began in the Premier League in 2003, with 75.
Thiago’s debut pass map:
Are there any midfielders in the world better at dictating tempo from deep? pic.twitter.com/9xX7OrokUE
— Omar ? (@topimpacat) September 20, 2020
Acting as the anchor of the side, you would expect Thiago to rack up the numbers on the ball, but it was his added dynamism, fluidity and quick thinking which saw passing lanes utilised to an effect which has been lacking from Liverpool in the middle of the park.
He provides a possession-based option and can play balls into teammates and half-spaces which few others are able to identify, you need only to look at his balls over the top towards Liverpool’s front three and his deliveries which bypassed Chelsea‘s press and set the Reds on their way forward.
Conceding a clumsy penalty was his only drawback on an otherwise impeccable start to life at the club considering he had not participated in a full training session with the team prior to the game.
As aforementioned, it was only one half of football but it provided a taste of things to come as he continues to settle into the team and gets “used to our system” as Klopp noted after the final whistle.
“Defensively it was tricky for him because we set it up differently but when he had the ball, that’s him, he wants to pass the ball,” the boss added.
Now, Klopp and the coaching staff have valuable footage to analyse to assist Thiago in adapting to new demands which will see the next steps plotted out as he transitions from a Bayern way of life to Liverpool’s – one which will provide greater tactical flexibility across the board.
That could very well see him make his first start at Lincoln in the League Cup third round, or if the boss errs on the side of caution, considering Henderson’s knock, it could instead come against Arsenal.
For now, it’s more than acceptable to be feeling like a kid at Christmas as you consider the elegance Thiago oozes and the even greater levels he can take the team to – 45 minutes under his belt or not, Liverpool have a special talent on their hands.
Diogo Jota signed for Liverpool last week, marking his rise from young midfield hopeful to new forward recruit for the best team in England.
The Portuguese attacker has had a quick upward trajectory in his career, from Pacos Ferreira to Atletico Madrid, a pit-stop at Porto, then Wolves and finally Anfield.
At age 23 it’s a fair few moves to have made already, but they have been carefully chosen to aid his career progression and with a determination to involve himself in first-team football instantly.
Jota has highlighted some key moments in his rise along the way, with Andy Brassell detailing several for the Independent today.
Most notably is the single pre-season he spent at Atletico in 2016; Jota never played a game for los rojiblancos, but did go through one of the notoriously tough summer spells under Diego Simeone and his coaches which “left some players throwing up on the sidelines.”
That intensity and the massive demands on the players were not the reason he left the Wanda Metropolitano club – or the Vicente Calderon club as they were at the time – but it still left an impression upon him as what was required to succeed at the highest level, given Atleti had just reached the Champions League final after he joined them.
However, Jota wanted to be playing, showcasing his abilities.
“I didn’t want to be always sat in the stand,” he said, when asked for the reason why he left Atletico so quickly.
The forward always wants to be involved, always wants to be improving, and an old Academy coach Vasco Seabra perhaps gave an insight as to why Jurgen Klopp will be such an admirer: “He trains like he plays. He’s humble, but very, very ambitious.”
It’s well-known that Klopp places as much emphasis on a character’s work rate and selflessness, just as much as their tactical understanding and technical traits.
Jota was questioned when he moved from one of the top clubs in Spain to a Championship outfit in Wolves, but once more that personal determination shone through as he excelled, in both that league and the top tier, to prove himself as capable of stepping up once more.
Even now after joining, there’s a feeling from some quarters he is coming in as a backup, a player who has quality, but is currently a tier below those he is now team-mates with.
If his past is anything to go by, and the comments made by both himself and his coaches can be believed, Jota shouldn’t be written off as anything other than another success story waiting to be written out at Anfield.
Goals: Mane 50′ 54′
Premier League, Stamford Bridge
20 September, 2020
Meanwhile, the Brazilian was unbeatable at the back, winning two early challenges against Timo Werner and then mopping up everything second half.
One recovery was particularly impressive and important, while of course his passing out of the back line was as impressive as it usually is further forward.
It’s important to remember that, while the options looked thin on the ground at kick-off, neither Matip nor Gomez will likely be out long and a couple of youngsters lie in wait for minutes, too.
Liverpool will cope, one way or another, if we have to stick with three centre-backs for the season.
Or maybe Schalke’s Ozan Kabak will just arrive in a few days anyway – either way, don’t panic!Thiago’s debut
We might not have expected to see him so quickly, but Thiago Alcantara made his Reds bow in the second half, just a day or so after signing from Bayern Munich.
He was a half-time replacement for Jordan Henderson, who was worryingly taken off with a thigh issue, and it will have intrigued Reds to note him slotting straight into the deepest role in midfield.
Many have thought he is being brought in to play further forward, and perhaps over time he will, but his first job was to dictate the Reds’ play from deep and with time and space, given Chelsea were down to 10 men.
On the ball he was predictably heavily involved, making a few neat through-balls without ever really threatening to create the expected 20 assists in 45 minutes of play.
Off the ball we saw the less-appreciated side of Thiago‘s game: work rate, fiercely combative play and the willingness to make big, aggressive challenges.
He gave away a penalty – he owes Alisson a Bavarian stein of beer for the save – and crunched Timo Werner again soon after, so there’s no toning down of that side of his game after moving to England.Super Sadio
Work rate, goals, class, speed, movement, points.
Sadio Mane really does offer the lot, and here he was the defining character of the match once again.
The No. 10 was a little off the boil against Leeds in terms of his penalty box work, but here he completely tore Chelsea apart.
Several early runs offered promise, before one sprint infield led to the red card prior to half-time, hauled down by Christensen just as he would have lobbed Kepa.
Two quickfire goals after the break showed more of his best traits, with that relentless running off the ball the main attribute which makes Mane an irrepressible talent.A tale of two keepers
Kepa made a couple of good saves, but the fact he’s such a loose cannon and can waver from good to garbage in the space of half an hour is exactly why he’s nowhere near an elite goalkeeper.
They all make passing errors these days, and that was a killer for the game, but he’d also already been caught out in a foot race with Salah.
Meanwhile, a couple of naughty individuals had dared to suggest Alisson wasn’t quite at his peak, so this was a well-timed clean sheet – and a Mignolet-esque penalty save.
No first-choice pairing in front of him, a couple of good claims and a late save to his left all added up to a good, if quiet, outing for Ali, plus his delight in the celebration for the pen save was clear for all to see.Now the workload really begins
Two games in one week! What an easy start to the season. Now that’s all over and done with and it really cranks up a notch.
We face three games in nine days next, before an international break, and then it’s every three or four days again until the end of eternity – or the next international break, which seems to take an eternity.
Jurgen Klopp will have to rotate a little more, chances will come to those who have watched on so far, but the winning run needs to continue.
Great start and two from two for the Reds.
The Reds may have made the trip to Stamford Bridge to face a side with a new look attack without two senior centre-back options, but it was to be a straightforward win for Klopp’s men.
A red card the way of Andreas Christensen on the cusp of half time allowed Liverpool to flex their dominance once more in the second, where Thiago made his mark on debut.
But it was to be Sadio Mane who would wrap up all three points to take back to Anfield after two wonderfully constructed goals, leaving his manager delighted with the result and overall performance from his side – which included an Alisson penalty save.
“I liked this performance a lot. Three points, we showed everyone we are ready,” Klopp told reporters after the game.
“For ourselves to just really feel the way we play and improve. We can be successful if we just continue to grow on the pitch.
“Chelsea away will always be one of the most difficult games we play.”
Henderson’s withdrawal at half time with what was a reported “tight thigh” made way for Thiago‘s debut, one which led to the Spaniard breaking the record for successful passes in a performance of 45 minutes or less since records began in the Premier League in 2003.
“We signed Thiago for different reasons and only one of them is [for] against deep-defending sides,” he added.
“We improved in that department a lot, I have to say, with all of the players who were already there before. But, yes, it is something that suits him, it is natural to him.”
The boss also commended the outing of Mane and Fabinho, two players key to securing Liverpool’s second win of the season.
Next on the agenda is a trip to Lincoln City for the third round of the League Cup on Thursday evening.
It is a familiar situation for the Cameroonian, who has struggled to avoid these setbacks for much of his four years with the Reds so far—particularly last season, when he managed just 13 appearances.
This latest blow highlights the precarious situation for Liverpool at centre-back, and raises the question of whether another signing if required.
Perhaps timely, then, is the fact that Matip will not recover until after the transfer window closes, with Klopp not expecting his No. 32 to be available again until the Merseyside derby on October 17 at the earliest.
Fortunately, Gomez’s problem is not so severe, and the 23-year-old could be back in the side for Thursday night’s League Cup tie at Lincoln.
“Joe actually should be fine, it was not a big one, but we have to see. He should be fine tomorrow already, or Tuesday,” Klopp told LFCTV.
“With Joel, it could be slightly different. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but a few weeks, a couple of weeks, probably after the international break he will be ready again.
“So we have to see. It’s not cool, but it’s crazy. One day and then bam, bam.
“Luckily we have Fabinho, and he played an exceptional game, so that was really, really nice.”
Matip would have been expected to provide experience at the back against Lincoln if fit, but now Klopp could turn to Gomez as his senior centre-back, perhaps alongside Koumetio.
It could prove that Klopp’s projected return date for Matip proves hopeful, as though an optimistic approach is preferred, the defender’s track record over the past year has not been encouraging.
When fit, Matip is one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, and it is this fact that prompted Liverpool to hand him a new five-year contract 11 months ago.
That ensures that Klopp is not set to give up on the former Schalke man any time soon, but it is a growing concern that Matip is injured more than he is available.
Liverpool travel to Frank Lampard’s free-spending Chelsea for the Reds’ first away game of the season. We’re live to bring you the latest.
Kickoff at Stamford Bridge is 4.30pm (UK), the referee is Paul Tierney.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Christensen, Zouma, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount, Havertz, Werner
Subs: Caballero, Barkley, Abraham, Tomori, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, AzpilicuetaTry free for 30 days.
Our coverage updates automatically below:
Koumetio, who is effectively fifth-choice centre-back after his impressive rise in pre-season, was also absent with a minor problem, which highlighted the issue that could prompt Liverpool to sign another defender before October 5.
But speaking ahead of kickoff, Klopp stressed that neither Gomez and Koumetio were a “real concern.”
However, the manager seemed less convincing on Matip’s fitness, and while he simply said “it could take a few days longer,” this is often the case with the No. 32.
“Joe is not a real concern, it’s probably only today. Same with Billy,” he explained.
“With Joel, we have to see. It could take a few days longer. [It’s a] muscle [problem]. After injuries that’s how it is.
“He looked perfect in the pre-season since he trained. But now he got a little problem and we have to react, so that’s how it is. That’s why we start how we start.”
Liverpool are claimed to have made an approach for Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak this week, and though Fabinho is a comfortable stand-in, Sunday’s situation perfectly outlines why another established option could be useful.
Matip is too often out with minor problems, and while Gomez has largely overcome his issues, which were majoratively impact injuries, there are concerns over his durability, too.
By the same token, Gomez’s shaky displays at the back suggested the need for genuine competition from Matip, and if the Cameroonian is on the treatment table, that is clearly not the case.
This could indicate that the manager trusts the 17-year-old to step in when required, and that he would likely have made the matchday squad if fit.
The Reds are on the road for the first time in 2020/21, meeting a Chelsea side who have made an abundance of changes throughout the summer.
And following on from Liverpool’s opening day victory against Leeds, there have been two new faces added to the fold at Anfield with both Thiago and Diogo Jota making the move from Bayern Munich and Wolves respectively.
While having been registered in time, our new No. 6 will settle for a place on the bench for this afternoon’s proceedings.
A stern test awaits against one of the teams tipped to be competing for the title this season and Klopp has been forced into a change at the back.
Alisson starts in between the sticks, with a back four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson sat ahead of him – with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip both not included in the matchday squad due to “minor” issues.
Chelsea: Kepa; James, Zouma, Christensen, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Mount, Havertz, Werner
Substitutes: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Tomori, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Giroud
In the wake of Salah’s hat-trick performance against Leeds, much has been made of his ability to succeed Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best player.
Whether the Egyptian will take up the mantle is subjective, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest he is already one of the finest in football.
Ninety-seven goals in 154 games for the club goes a long to way in highlighting why his reputation is so strong, and to notch 23 or more in each of his seasons at Anfield so far is, in Klopp’s eyes, a testament to his desire.
“He deserves credit for that,” he told reporters ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea.
“A lot of things we do help him to be the player he can be, that’s true, as a team, and he knows that. But apart from that, you need to have a specific personality to invest so much.
“And by the way, he’s not the only one in the squad who’s doing it, but he’s doing it as well.
“You asked the right question when you say he scored about 40 goals in the first season, and quite a few players would say ‘that was nice, and now let’s think about other things, how we can make life even more beautiful’, but not life on the football pitch, the other part of life.
“He’s exactly the opposite. He stayed greedy, he stayed very determined, his work rate around the games is exceptional.
“So he’s super professional, that’s the truth. If you would write a book about how to stay successful, and the training things he is doing, we are doing, in between the games, that’s one key.
“All players do what you tell them, but it’s about how important you see it yourself that it is, because that gives you a completely different mindset.
“You want to be on top of your own potential, and that’s what he wants.
“The numbers are just incredible, that’s true, and I was really happy for him for this game.
“And we said after the game, yes there were two penalties and if you didn’t see the game you would think ‘yeah, two penalties and a goal, nice’, but if you saw it, this game was a three-goal performance, 100 percent, if not more.
“So yes, good start, long may it continue.”
There have been some suggestions, however, that Salah is not fully appreciated among some sections of the Liverpool support, though after the 4-3 win over Leeds last weekend, Virgil van Dijk insisted this media-fuelled.
Klopp stressed that none within the club underestimate the importance of their No. 11, who is expected to “work his socks off” like any other player.
“I think the Liverpool supporters know exactly what we have with him,” he continued.
“I heard something that Virgil said: ‘It’s not us, it’s you’. So in the team, absolutely, [he’s appreciated] 100 percent.
“It’s not that we carry Mo because he scores so many goals in the sessions, and tell him ‘please, that’s your spot, now finish the situation off’.
“Everybody expects from him, like everybody else, that he works his socks off in each session.
“That’s the truth, but that doesn’t mean that we appreciate 100 percent what we have with him.
“[It is] exactly the same with the other players. Because I think that the last year, everybody was saying Sadio Mane, and what a player he is.
“Now he didn’t score three goals in the first game, and now we put one on the pedestal and forget the other one, and Bobby played in between and all that stuff. So these kinds of things, we are not like this.
“We expect from them that they do their best. That’s what they deliver, and sometimes it ends up in scoring and sometimes not.
“The story this team wrote together is because they constantly push each other.
“But the appreciation between each other couldn’t be bigger, they like playing together and they really respect each other, so that’s the situation.
“I don’t know how the public sees Mo Salah actually, if you ask me then I can hear a little bit that obviously there’s different views, but I didn’t know it.”
Jota arrives as the third signing of the summer for the Reds, with his switch from Wolves coming after the breakdown of a deal for Timo Werner back in June.
It is a much-needed addition, with Liverpool lacking genuine quality as cover for Jurgen Klopp‘s established front three, and Jota’s 16 goals and six assists in 48 games last season suggest he is capable of filling this role.
Not only that, but the Portuguese believes he can meet the requirements off the ball, as a forward who is hungry for the ball and adept in the press.
“Obviously, I need to know my team-mates, but they will know me as a player that is a team player,” he told LFCTV.
“I always try to help them the best I can, and they can count on me in the future. I think we can do great things here.”
He described Liverpool as “a special team,” saying “the way they press, the intensity that they put on the game is just another level.”
“I want to be part of that hunger to play the game, and to score goals,” he added.
“I think that is a great way to play the game, and that’s the way I want to play as well.”
Supplanting any of Salah, Mane and Firmino will be a difficult task, and Jota cannot be expected to do so in his first campaign with the club.
However, his potential indicates that he could well do so in the future, and the 23-year-old explained that he is looking to learn from Liverpool’s “world-class” trio in order to develop.
“They are world-class players. They try to win every match, they score a lot of goals, they work together, and I want to be one more piece to join those three,” he said.
“That’s what I will do. Obviously, they are more experienced than me, so the first stage is to connect with them, to learn with them, then hopefully I can be good help for them and for the club to win games.”
One of the biggest advantages of signing Jota is his ability to play in every role across the front line, including as a striker, which could lighten the load on Firmino in tandem with Takumi Minamino.
“I think every manager looks at that, and we as players know that being versatile, playing in different positions, is always useful,” Jota continued.
“I’m ready to play in each position the manager wants, and that’s what I’ll try to do. I’ll give my best every single day.”
Jota has been confirmed as the Reds’ new No. 20, inheriting the shirt last worn by Adam Lallana as he moves to Anfield in a deal worth an initial £41 million.
That could rise to £45 million depending on the Portuguese’s success at the club, and if that is the case, he will have proved another excellent signing.
Given the outlay, which makes Jota the fourth-most expensive signing in Liverpool’s history, that he is not set to arrive as an immediate first choice could prompt scrutiny.
But speaking on his unveiling, Klopp hailed his new attacker for allowing his side to become more “unpredictable,” owing to his ability to play a variety of roles and systems.
“He’s a player who gives us so many options to use him,” he told the club’s official website.
“He’s 23 years old, still far away from being kind of a finished article, so much potential. He has the speed, he can combine, can defend, can press.
“It makes it just more unpredictable and gives us real options for different systems because he can play pretty much all three positions up front in a 4-3-3, if we play with four midfielders he can play both wings.
“So, these kinds of things. It’s just nice. And he has some natural things which we have in our game, like this desire and the greed and the direction.
“He is part of this unbelievable Portuguese generation in the moment, where they have really a lot of obviously quite skilled players. We saw the Portuguese team last time, it’s quite impressive.
“So, I’m really happy to have him here. And on top of that, a really good guy and really happy to be here.”
There is an expectation on every player in Klopp’s side to contribute defensively, and this is particularly the case in attack, where the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino lead the press.
Jota is able to fit into this ethos, with the manager explaining how performances under Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves proved he is capable of meeting his demands.
“I like what Wolves are doing. They obviously play a completely different system but what they do is ask pretty much all offensive players for proper defensive work,” he continued.
“And the whole team there is doing that, and Diogo as well. Of course, that’s one of the things.
“Of course he has to adapt to a few things and has to learn a few things—what we do differently because there are, of course, differences—but a lot of things are already there. And so I’m really excited.”
Klopp insisted that Jota “knows it’s a step for him,” confirming that he would arrive as a squad option, not a first-choice starter like Thiago, but added that “he can give us things we don’t have.”
It is an essential signing, especially for the future with both Mane and Salah due to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations at the start of 2022, and when Jota gets going, Liverpool can be even more formidable.
Ki-Jana Hoever has completed a move to Wolves that is worth an initial £9 million, just two years on from joining Liverpool from Ajax for a ridiculously low fee of £90,000.
When Hoever swapped Amsterdam for Merseyside in 2018, the compensation paid to Ajax already represented a real bargain for the Reds.
Though untested at senior level, the Dutchman was considered one of the finest young talents in Europe, and proved this in his first forays into life at Liverpool.
Excelling in the academy ranks, Hoever was given his first-team debut against Wolves in the FA Cup at the start of 2019, becoming, at the time, the third-youngest player to feature for the club.
Having made four appearances for the senior squad in total, the 18-year-old was expected to head out on loan this summer to gain crucial experience.
But Hoever has now joined Wolves on a permanent deal that could land Liverpool over £13.5 million, including various add-ons negotiated with the Premier League side.
It is a shock exit, but given the Reds have made a sizeable profit, it could prove a wise business decision, particularly given how tight the market is currently.
The inclusion of a 15 percent sell-on clause could provide the club with an even bigger boost if Hoever realises his potential.
Hoever’s pathway to the first team was blocked by Neco Williams, who is now cemented as backup to Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, while the player himself stressed that he was not physically ready to perform at centre-back.
At Wolves, he is expected to be given many opportunities in his natural role, with Matt Doherty having already left Molineux to join Tottenham this summer.
Writing on Instagram ahead of his exit, Hoever said it was an “honour” to represent Liverpool.
“Thank you to everyone at Liverpool who has helped to play a part in my progression over the past two years on and off the pitch,” he wrote.
“It’s been an honour to represent such a big club and be around top players and staff every day. I’ll never forget the memories I made here.”
All the best, Ki-Jana!
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has paid tribute to Diogo Jota ahead of his £45 million move to Liverpool, saying the champions are “going to have a great player.”
Jota is due to complete a big-money switch to Anfield after three years with Wolves, during which he scored 44 and assisted 19 in 131 games.
The former Atletico Madrid and Porto winger, who is most comfortable on the left but also able to play up front, arrives as cover for the Reds’ first-choice forwards, and genuine competition for Sadio Mane.
He departs Wolves with the backing of Nuno, with the manager describing him in his pre-Man City press conference as a “great player and boy.”
“What Diogo did for us was absolutely fantastic. I think Diogo is going to the right place and we wish him all the best,” he told reporters, including the Express & Star‘s Joe Edwards.
As he continued, the Portuguese explicitly confirmed two moves, with Ki-Jana Hoever going the other way in a separate deal that could earn Liverpool up to £13.5 million.
“He will join us. He’s a young player with talent and potential,” he said of Hoever.
“This is what is happening. Diogo is joining Liverpool, and Ki will join us.
“[Adding new talent] is what we’re trying to do. The squad still needs adjustments and we’re working on that.
“Matt [Doherty] has gone to Tottenham and Diogo to Liverpool, which shows we are doing things well, with players going to big, big clubs.”
He later added: “Liverpool are going to have a great player and boy, and Ki has a bright future ahead of him. We think this deal is good for everybody.
“Diogo was really happy here, but it’s normal that players like to face new challenges.”
Liverpool are yet to confirm the signing of Jota, but the 23-year-old was believed to have been at Anfield on Saturday morning to fulfil media obligations, as with Thiago the previous day.
Hoever, meanwhile, has expressed his gratitude to the Reds with a parting message on Instagram.
“Thank you to everyone at Liverpool who has helped to play a part in my progression over the past two years on and off the pitch,” he wrote.
“It’s been an honour to represent such a big club and be around top players and staff every day. I’ll never forget the memories I made here.”
Layton Stewart struck an impressive hat-trick and Dominic Corness scored twice directly from corners as the Liverpool under-18s sealed a 5-0 win over Stoke.Liverpool U18s 5-0 Stoke U18s
U18 Premier League, Kirkby
September 19, 2020
Goals: Stewart 25′ pen 38′ 72′, Corness 61′ 84′
The U18s got their campaign belatedly underway on Saturday after their opener against Man United was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, and did so emphatically.
Under new management in Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, the young Reds’ starting lineup included a number of new faces promoted from the under-16s, including the industrious Luca Stephenson at the base of the midfield.
Another to make his U18s bow, Harvey Blair, was struck down with an injury in the opening stages, which gave summer signing Melkamu Frauendorf an early debut, joining Stewart in attack.
The hard work of Stephenson and the creativity of James Balagizi and Tyler Morton gave Liverpool the edge, and it was from midfield that their opener was built.
Stewart was the scorer, with a smart turn under pressure before a classy chip over the onrushing Paul Cooper to make it 1-0, while minutes later Frauendorf should have tapped Morton’s cross in at the back post.
It was all Stewart as the young Reds doubled their lead before the break, chasing down a lost cause and winning a penalty, which he duly stepped up and converted.
Liverpool kept up the intensity after the break, but their third goal came from an unlikely source, after relentless work from Stephenson to win a corner.
Corness, whose range of passing was exceptional throughout, inadvertently got his name on the scoresheet with a wind-assisted corner which evaded everyone including Cooper to find the back of the net.
Stewart then sealed his hat-trick as he played on despite a foul near the centre circle, pushing forward and producing a fine finish from outside the area to emulate Mo Salah with an opening-day treble.
Then, ridiculously, Corness scored once again directly from a corner as the blustery conditions at Kirkby continued to embarrass the Stoke goalkeeper.
Substitute Max Woltman thought he had made it six as he crashed a volley off the crossbar and onto the goalline, but after a dominant display from Liverpool, they were left with a 5-0 victory to kick off the campaign.
TIA Man of the Match: Layton Stewart
Liverpool U18s: Ojrzynski; Wilson, Quansah, Jonas, Chambers; Stephenson; Balagizi (Woltman 77′), Corness, Morton; Stewart, Blair (Frauendorf 15′)
Subs not used: Davies, Mabaya