Football: Liverpool do not need a new midfielder, says Klopp

Liverpool players training at the National Stadium in Singapore on July 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Despite midfield being a potential weak link for Liverpool, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp insisted yesterday that the team do not need a new midfielder.

Skipper Jordan Henderson and utility man James Milner are in their 30s, while Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara have been inconsistent.

The Reds have made headlines with their signing of Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez for a club-record fee of £85 million (S$142 million) from Benfica. They also added Fulham teen Fabio Carvalho, who plays as a winger or attacking midfielder.

But, on whether the club would strengthen their midfield before the transfer window closes, Klopp said yesterday: "I don't expect it really to be honest. There is no need for a new midfielder. For me, Harvey Elliott is a new signing as well. He's very young and... brilliant."

Elliott, 19, had missed large parts of last season after suffering a serious ankle injury against Leeds United last September. But he is on tour with the rest of the squad.

Klopp added: "The quality of the players we have is really, really high and people make one mistake. They underestimate the chance that a player who didn't play his best season last year might play the best season this year.

"Thank God, I'm not like this. When a player didn't perform at his highest level, it's at least 50 per cent my fault. So I have to improve. I have to help him in a better way."

Klopp was speaking at a press conference alongside left-back Andy Robertson ahead of Friday's Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy against Crystal Palace at the National Stadium. The Reds then held an hour-long open training session at the same venue, with over 10,000 fans in attendance.

Tonight's match will be their second pre-season friendly after Tuesday's 4-0 defeat by Manchester United in Bangkok.

Klopp admitted that it was not his "favourite thing" to travel so far and train at different timings and in humid climate. But he added: "The best thing is we can come closer to our fans in Asia, we know how big (football) is and how important it is to come here. The most important thing is that... people see us not only on television but live as well."

Robertson said: "(These pre-season camps) get us to where we need to be. We didn't have that long off but it was enough time to switch off mentally and physically and our bodies are feeling good so it's about getting up to speed now."

The defender also thanked fans for sometimes waking up at 'silly times' to watch matches.

He said: "When you come to these places, it just reminds you how big the club actually is. The fans are so welcoming and you're their heroes. They're waiting outside the hotel, coming into the stadium.

"We appreciate it massively. Fans around the world are important to us, not just ones who are at Anfield every single week."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp waving to fans after a training session at the National Stadium on July 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

After the loss to United, during which Klopp played three teams for 30 minutes each, he said tonight's line-up might be similar, with some players possibly getting more playing time.

Besides Alisson and Diogo Jota, the rest of the squad is fully fit, said Klopp.

He added: "Do I like to lose 4-0 to United? Not at all but... we have to do what we have to do. We had a longer season... it was the most intense season I've experienced so we had to give the boys (time) off for as long as possible.

"We have to train hard and a lot to have the players in the right physical state for the whole season. Pre-season games are important, but the most important games are coming up in a few weeks and that's when we have to be ready.

"For that sometimes you have to suffer... Let's see what we can do against Crystal Palace."

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On Thursday (July 14), the Liverpool squad hit the pitch at the National Stadium to take part in an open training session ahead of their match with Crystal Palace on July 15.

Klopp also called on supporters to give Nunez more time, after the new signing was criticised for missing a seemingly easy chance on goal in Bangkok.

He said: "The only real important thing is, first and foremost, how I judge the situation. I couldn't be more calm about it and completely convinced about his potential.

"It's my responsibility to help Darwin so that he can fulfil his full potential and I'm in it. I know with strikers, it's like this, you missed a chance and then we have this kind of nervous people out there (going) oh my god, he missed a chance. I can promise it will not be the last (time)."

Jurgen Klopp (right) watches as Mohamed Salah (left) and Darwin Nunez train at the National Stadium on July 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

After a spectacular season that saw the club coming close to winning the quadruple, the charge is on again for Klopp and his men.

Having won the League Cup and FA Cup at Wembley, Robertson wants to experience more of that winning feeling.

He said: "When you play (for) this club, there's always expectations on you. We have expectations of ourselves. We want to be the best versions of ourselves individually and as a team.

"We showed that for a large part of last season and the end of the season didn't go the way we wanted it to but we can look back and have fond memories. Last season drives us forward too.

"It takes hard work and determination... we're a fantastic team when we're at our best. The plan is to go for everything at 100 per cent like we've always done and if we do, it gives us the best possible chance to be successful."

Klopp added: "We have 19 opponents. I don't think our chances are worse than last year or massively better.

"(We'll just make sure) we are ready for Fulham (when their EPL season starts on Aug 6) and for all the others in the end.

"We respect all the opponents in the Premier League... that's nothing to do with who they've signed. The good news is at the end of the day, they only can line up 11 (players). So we have the same number and then let's give it a go."

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