Aug 11, 2017
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Press Conference Analysis: Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp talks Philippe Coutinho’s future, Watford and transfers

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Jurgen Klopp spoke on Friday ahead of the first Premier League game of the season up against Watford. The German was questioned almost immediately on the future of Brazilian Philippe Coutinho as speculation continues to surround the Brazilian and he first discussed his back injury which looks set to keep him out against Watford. The Liverpool Echo quote him as saying:

“No he’s not available. He’s not been in training since last Friday. He’s a doubt for Tuesday unfortunately.”

That comes as a major blow for the Reds, who rely heavily on the magical skill of their number ten. Particularly with him set to miss out against Hoffenheim on Tuesday night too. What may come as some consolation is if his long-term future is secured. That seems to be the case too as Klopp refused to be dragged into believing that Coutinho could leave as he said:

“I can’t keep players happy, if you are not happy you won’t be if I say be happy. It’s not about this at the moment. For me the bigger issue is that he is unable to play. It is not for you, it is between me and all the boys, not just Phil. When FSG say something like this it’s 100% clear. You can read it.”

One player who may step in as an alternative is summer signing Mohamed Salah. The new arrival from Roma was on the receiving end of praise from his new boss after an impressive pre-season. Salah is expected to line-up on the right of a front three, with Sadio Mane shifting to the left wing. Klopp praised the former Chelsea man as he explained:

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“Everybody can see all his skills. Speed, technical and finishing ability. A few of these skills are really natural. I have spoke to him a few times, but I didn’t need to immediately tell him what I want. He has speed, technical ability, finishing – speed is the most difficult thing to defend in football as it opens spaces. He creates spaces for all the rest. We need to use them. It’s not about giving him the ball, it’s about what happens when he’s running.”

Salah will be key if Liverpool are to beat the Hornets in the Saturday lunchtime game. Klopp is fully aware of the threat posed by Marco Silva’s team and believes that the Portuguese manager will pose a threat in his first game in charge of Watford on Saturday. Klopp admired Silva as he said that having scouted many of their pre-season games, he has a good idea of how they will play:

“You could see a lot of things what he brought to Hull. You can see a lot of his philosophy. You can expect plus 20, 30 percent because it’s real, it’s Premier League. It’s an advantage of a home game, it’s easier with the crowd on your back. We are long enough in the business to know how to do it. Their style of play is clear, they are a football playing side. We know where we have to defend andwhere to use the space in our offensive play.”

Despite the return of football action on the pitch, many of the journalists present were still concerned by transfer speculation. When asked, Klopp explained that he would not sign players for the sake of it and would only pursue players he felt would improve his team. That marks a change from previous windows when Liverpool signed players to add squad depth, something Klopp has not done, and he elaborated, saying:

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“If we bring in players we bring in players because I want them. That’s how I see it. There will not be a plan B, plan C or whatever. The players I bring in will be plan A. I cannot bring in a player just to buy a player.”

Some fans have been quick to criticise club owners Fenway Sports Group over the lack of spending and bungled transfer activity. Failed moves for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Naby Keita could see fingers pointed at John W Henry and co., but the German refused to lie any blame with them and insisted that he enjoys a good relationship with the board:

“I am not sure anybody needs proof about this (relationship with FSG). I have bosses, they are FSG and I have no problem. I have never had bosses (that do things he doesn’t like). It’s not about asking for things you cannot get, it’s about a relationship. What we do we do to strengthen the club for our supporters.”

However, transfer business may be impacted by injuries to his team. With Coutinho a doubt, Klopp revealed the latest on Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Nathaniel Clyne ahead of this weekend, with potential that long term problems may lead to new signings as he hinted:

“Pre-season is along and hard, we trained a lot. Adam Lallana had this injury, it’s really unlucky. Daniel had a great pre-season. He is close for this weekend but Tuesday he is pretty certain. Clyne had this problem from the start and Phil has his back. I have to make hard decision. We will see what happens on the 31st.”

One long term absentee has been striker Danny Ings. Now he will return to action as he plays for Liverpool under 23s against Swansea on Friday night as Klopp revealed that he is close to a return to first team football after overcoming yet another knee injury has kept him sidelined for almost a year. Klopp said:

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“Danny played tonight. He needs games. He looks really good in the sessions we had when he could be part 100 percent. There was no time for us to test him. Now he’s ready to go, as fit as he can be. He will play tonight with the U23s. He is not really an option because he had no pre-season games.”

He may be joined by youngster Ryan Kent, who has committed his future to the club with a long-term deal after an impressive pre-season. The winger spent last season on loan at Barnsley but Klopp appeared to suggest that he could stay in and around the first team squad this season, saying:

“That’s why we tried to show him that it makes sense to stay for the long-term. He looked so mature. I’m not president of the supporters club for loaning, especially at a young age. I’m happy he signed a new contract.”

Kent could be like a new signing for the Reds and as such could add some vital depth to the Liverpool attack in wide areas.

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Sam is a Southend United fan and student based in the South-West. He has previously worked for various publications, including FourFourTwo magazine and ITV. Sam also has an extensive knowledge of Spanish football and has previously lived and worked in Spain. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

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