Klopp mulls over van Dijk debut, Coutinho out for a week

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp looks on before the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester at Anfield, England, on Dec 30, 2017.
Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp looks on before the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester at Anfield, England, on Dec 30, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Mohamed Salah's fitness, Philippe Coutinho's future and Virgil van Dijk's arrival are three key issues facing Liverpool as they prepare to host Everton in the third round of the FA Cup today.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp addressed all of them yesterday and confirmed that Salah and Coutinho will be out of the clash due to injuries, and that he is yet to decide if his £75 million (S$135 million) signing van Dijk will feature.

Brazilian forward Coutinho is reported to be closing in on a move to Barcelona during this month's transfer window, but Klopp remained coy on the rumours.

"All the things I could say would only create stories - you write the stories anyway," the German said at his pre-match conference.

"So I have nothing to say, that is actually how it is. It is a transfer window but that's all. There is nothing to say that would help me or the player or the club."

Coutinho was left out of the Liverpool squad which defeated Burnley 2-1 in the Premier League on New Year's Day with what was deemed to be a thigh problem.

VAN DIJK CAN WAIT

I can imagine that everybody is desperate to see him on the pitch but, from our point of view, there is no rush.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, on the possibility of easing Virgil van Dijk, the world's most expensive defender, into the starting XI. 

Salah also missed Monday's victory because of a groin injury.

"Mo and Phil aren't big injuries, it's only a week. It was lucky," Klopp added.

Defender van Dijk, meanwhile, is eligible to make his debut, having officially completed his move from Southampton on Monday.

When asked about a potential Reds debut for the Dutchman, Klopp said: "He is obviously healthy. Now I have to make a decision for this game. We will see what we do with him.

"It is clear that centre-half is a position that usually needs to be tuned to the rest of the team.

"I can imagine that everybody is desperate to see him on the pitch but, from our point of view, there is no rush and it is much more important how many good games he can play for us than how many and when it starts."

He added that he will be playing a line-up which will "show respect" for the FA Cup.

STRIKING A KEY DEAL

Securing the player is the most important thing obviously because it has been the club's biggest area of concern.

SAM ALLARDYCE, Everton manager, on the imminent arrival of Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun as he seeks to address the Toffees' shortage of goals.

"We know how desperate our supporters are to win silverware. We don't waste opportunities, we want to be as successful as possible," he said.

While Liverpool are unbeaten in all competitions since Oct 22, Everton have gone four games without victory.

They lost their last two games, and have struggled for goals all season, scoring 25 in the Premier League compared to Liverpool's 50.

Everton manager Sam Allardyce will hope that situation improves after confirming at his pre-match conference that Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun is on the verge of becoming an Everton player for £27 million.

"(Agreeing) personal terms are in the final stage," he said.

"Securing the player is the most important thing obviously because it has been the club's biggest area of concern. Hopefully he will come to the club and show that he is good value for money."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2018, with the headline 'Klopp mulls over van Dijk debut, Coutinho out for a week'. Print Edition | Subscribe