Reds not final product but skipper still upbeat

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson playing against Tranmere in a friendly last Wednesday, having recovered from his latest foot injury.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson playing against Tranmere in a friendly last Wednesday, having recovered from his latest foot injury.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Captain Jordan Henderson believes Liverpool will challenge for major honours next season despite manager Jurgen Klopp's frustrations in attempting to land two prime targets, Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk.

Liverpool have added their record signing, Mohamed Salah, and Dominic Solanke to their ranks in the close season and hope to conclude a deal for Hull City's left-back Andy Robertson.

The English football team have also refused to concede defeat in the pursuit of Keita despite RB Leipzig's repeated insistence that the midfielder is not for sale.

Attempts to add van Dijk to Klopp's defence have been resisted by Southampton but the Dutch international's future remains uncertain.

Henderson insists Liverpool will improve on last season's fourth-place finish in the Premier League regardless of what materialises in the remainder of the transfer window.

The long-serving midfielder Lucas Leiva has finalised a £5 million (S$9 million) move to Italy's Lazio.

Henderson said: "We have to set it (target) very high with the squad, the players we have got and the manager. We want to be winning things. That is the aim.

"We have a fantastic group of players who want a better season this year and we will be working as hard as we can to impress the manager to get into the team."

The 27-year-old suggested that Liverpool's squad needs only fine-tuning after several summers of extensive recruitment.

The England international made his first Reds appearance in five months in the 4-0 win at Tranmere Rovers last Wednesday, having recovered from the latest foot injury to interrupt his Anfield career.

Henderson, who also featured in the 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic on Friday, trained at Melwood throughout the summer to regain full fitness having been sidelined since February by the problem.

"I worked hard over the summer to get back to this point," he said. "I can't remember when I last had a full pre-season so by the end of it I hope I will be very, very fit."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2017, with the headline 'Reds not final product but skipper still upbeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe