“They are all Liverpool players here. Decisions that were made in the past were not as bad as maybe some people think. It is not a coincidence they are here. When I saw the squad – when on my holiday – I thought, ‘good job, I can work with this.’ Yes, we have some injuries but players will come back. It’s a good squad. It’s even good for those players who can’t play in this moment to see how we work.”
Speaking ahead of his side’s hard-fought 1-0 Europa League win against Rubin Kazan, Jurgen Klopp moved to somewhat quell the building speculation that signings in January could be plentiful. If you believe all the rumours floating around the German could assemble a completely fresh XI by February, and I think we can all see that such a state of affairs is extremely unlikely.
Yes, Klopp is sure to want one, maybe two, new players as he looks to implement his own style at Anfield, but as he alluded to, there is plenty of quality on Merseyside right now. Not convinced? Well here are FIVE players currently out of the limelight that prove the German tactician doesn’t have to go crazy with Fenway Sports Group’s chequebook this winter…
Although there was talk of Ibe being ‘better than Raheem Sterling’ over the summer, it’s fair to say that such claims have proven to be more than premature.
No disrespect to the 19-year-old ex-Wycombe man, but he’s not even close to the level of his senior – albeit by only exactly 365 days – compatriot just yet, whose all-round game is much more sophisticated than angry Kopites wanted to admit when he travelled down the M62 to Manchester.
Alas, Ibe did show a glimpse of the magic in his boots on Thursday night in the Europa League with a decent performance on a horrendous pitch against Rubin Kazan.
In a game in which the Reds lacked that moment of a luck or a creative spark, the teenager really stepped up 10 minutes into the second half to net what proved to be the winning goal, with his pace, power and direct running all on show. We may still be some time from hailing Ibe as a real star at Anfield, but he’s showing signs of filling Sterling’s boots, and Klopp clearly seems to appreciate his talents – as the below video (from after the Rubin game) shows.
Reports have already suggested that Klopp wants Markovic back – although a January deal is off the agenda due to his loan move to Fenerbahce – so it’s pretty clear that the 21-year-old Serbian features in the German’s thinking long-term.
An apparent clash of personalities between the youngster and Brendan Rodgers, to which the player has already alluded, perhaps ruined his debut campaign at Anfield, but there’s no doubt that the wide attacker has talent.
On the few occasions he was deployed in his favoured position – he spent lots of time at wing-back – last term, Markovic looked impressive and appeared to have a little bit of a Yossi Benayoun vibe about him in terms of his movement and the way he holds himself on the ball, and with Klopp’s side looking a little blunt at times, that spark could be useful.
It’s likely that a ‘well, Sturridge is back from injury soon’ narrative will plague the Reds’ season, but there is method in the apparent madness the striker causes among Kopites.
Although perennially short of full fitness, the 26-year-old is a real threat when he can be wheeled out onto the pitch, as was shown when he smashed in two wonderful goals against Aston Villa in September.
Should Klopp be able to keep him match-ready, then the German will have, arguably, one of the best strike forces in the Premier League in Sturridge and Christian Benteke, with pace, power and clinical finishing aplenty.
In among the madness of the current season at Liverpool it’s been somewhat forgotten that Henderson has been injured since the early stages of the campaign.
After taking the captain’s armband from Steven Gerrard on a permanent basis, the England international featured in wins at Stoke and at home to Bournemouth – he set up the only goal against the Cherries with a lovely cross – and it’s pretty clear that his energy has been missed.
Slotting the 25-year-old back into his midfield may well be a headache for Klopp given the form of Emre Can, James Milner and, in particular, Lucas Leiva, but we’re sure the 48-year-old will be pretty happy to have another top quality player at his disposal.
Since Klopp’s arrival it’s noticeable that younger players have been given greater opportunities. From being allowed to train with the senior side at Melwood through to being placed on the bench, injuries may have forced the German’s hand to an extent, but it’s encouraging to see fresh talent, and Teixeira has been one of the most exciting thus far.
A solid performance against Bournemouth in the League Cup win in which his neat piece of skill (above) contributed to Nathaniel Clyne’s goal shows that he has the technical ability and confidence, and with games set to come thick and fast over the Christmas period Klopp is sure to have to lean on him a little more as the inevitability of squad rotation sets in.