Football: New Red Solanke gets on board

Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney is unable to stop Liverpool's new striker Dominic Solanke from scoring the opening goal in Hong Kong yesterday. The Reds won the Premier League Asia Trophy match 2-0.
Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney is unable to stop Liverpool's new striker Dominic Solanke from scoring the opening goal in Hong Kong yesterday. The Reds won the Premier League Asia Trophy match 2-0.PHOTO: REUTERS

Origi scores too in 2-0 win over Palace; Leipzig rebuff Klopp's bid for Keita

HONG KONG • New signing Dominic Solanke came off the bench to score as Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in a pre-season game in Hong Kong yesterday.

The 19-year-old suggested he could prove a summer bargain at around £3 million (S$5.4 million), as he linked up well with fellow striker Divock Origi, who also got on the scoresheet in the Premier League Asia Trophy win.

Origi set up the first for Liverpool on the hour mark with a clever back-heel that found Solanke unmarked and the teenager made no mistake, finishing coolly in the stifling Hong Kong heat.

Origi then rifled home Liverpool's second in the 79th minute, to the delight of a crowd of 40,000.

Liverpool will face Leicester City in the Asia Trophy final on Saturday after the Foxes won the earlier match 7-6 on penalties over West Bromwich Albion following a 1-1 stalemate in normal time.

New signing Jay Rodriguez gave West Brom the lead with a stunning strike after nine minutes, only for Riyad Mahrez to squeeze the ball past Ben Foster to level things midway through the first half.

"I'm happy with the boys. We need to have quality and we need to show it on the pitch," said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

"Our biggest challenge is to get stronger defensively together. We need to be focused more in situations.

"But it was a good performance. We played good football and we were patient."

When asked about how his new signings Mohamed Salah and Solanke fared, the German added: "Salah is quicker than I thought. A nice player for us. We said last year we need speed, we have it now.

"For Solanke, he is a skilled boy. It's a smart move for him and for us. He saw an opportunity at Liverpool and we also see it."

Klopp may, however, have to reconsider his midfield transfer strategy after RB Leipzig rejected a bid for Naby Keita.

The Liverpool manager has pursued the Guinea international all summer despite repeated declarations from the Bundesliga club that the 22-year-old is not for sale. Liverpool have attempted to break Leipzig's resolve with a €75 million (S$118.3 million) offer, more than double their record outlay on Salah, only to meet frustration again.

Leipzig's owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, told Sport Bild yesterday: "We don't sell any of our players just to get money. Lately we got a €75 million offer for Naby Keita. No way! He has a contract and he will fulfil it.

"To sell him would not only be a proof of distrust to our fans but also the wrong sign for our players like Timo Werner, who is in demand too."

Liverpool are confident Keita wants to join them but Klopp may now have no option but to consider alternative targets given Leipzig's hard-line stance.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'New Red Solanke gets on board'. Print Edition | Subscribe