Parker: Klopp must handle Kabak and Davies with care

Paul Parker believes Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has to take care of Deadline Day signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies if his side are to mount a renewed challenge for the Premier League.

At United there were two standout winter arrivals in my time at Old Trafford: William Prunier and Andy Cole.

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I played with Prunier in that 4-0 loss at White Hart Lane, but it just wasn’t real. People just don’t believe what happened when we discuss it. Cole’s time with the club showed what’s more likely to happen to Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, and how Jurgen Klopp can make sure they settle in as quickly as possible.

When Cole came to United, we already had our own way of playing. At Newcastle United, they had theirs. He was used to running in behind, and there were always crosses coming in from the wings for him to attack. The ball was in front of him. But when he came with us he had to change, because we’d have to play the ball into feet and work from that, and from that he was able to give back to the team.

Klopp: Matip injury a ‘big, big blow’ for Liverpool

I think Cole was clear that there were times that he was struggling to fit in. But what happened was that the boss didn’t just give up – there was a long-term plan to get Cole in and get him buzzing in our side. By signing for United it opened him up to improving his game. He was respected more as a player when he was able to show everyone that there were was more to his game – and he was helped by the fact he knew he wasn’t the finished article when he arrived. Kabak and Davies will have to be helped through and will have to embrace a new way of doing things, and be prepared to learn in order to improve. They’re at a big club too now, and they must be open to showing there is more to them.

How well you adjust, I think, depends on the individual. It’s definitely possible to step up from the lower divisions and make a success of it. I came from two divisions down to join QPR. More recently, Dele Alli joined Spurs from League One. I think what’s most important for Davies is that Klopp doesn’t use his move up as an excuse not to play him.

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Klopp needs to be brave enough to put him in straight away – that’s how you learn. You learn when you’re on the job, and he might be raw but it will do him no good to be stuck playing inconsistently in the under-23s. In the first team he’ll have experienced players around him, and he’s used to regular football, so he can’t miss out. That means it’s up to his boss to help him with any personal troubles he might have as he adjusts.

Klopp will also need to be on hand for Kabak. He’s come from another country and you don’t know how many, if any, of his family are going to make the journey with him. He shouldn’t be left out of the team for too long. If players come from abroad without friends and family then it’s best they are allowed to play and feel like they’re part of a team.

The way Liverpool looked against West Ham, I don’t think anyone can write them off. They applied themselves well, and after beating Spurs I think they might have turned a corner. With some of their young players coming through, then they have added some depth, and perhaps some more belief. If Jordan Henderson can come good again they could be a dangerous side for the second half of the season.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores their side’s second goal past Lukasz Fabianski of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at London Stadium on January 31, 2021 in London, England

Image credit: Getty Images

If you look at the way Liverpool are, with their strengths and weaknesses, they have got more about them than United have. In the transfer window, United needed to add to their front line. They might get away with it defensively this season, but they need more for Bruno Fernandes to play off. Another experienced player alongside Edinson Cavani, someone who would run to open up the pitch rather than wait for a pass, could have made the difference for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester City are the favourites despite Liverpool’s transfer window. They’ve tightened up at the back, they’re physically and mentally more resilient. In the past they’ve crumbled against Liverpool, and I don’t think that will happen again – but we’ll find out soon.

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Klopp: 'Really strange' situation led to Kabak and Davies signings

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Jurgen Klopp: ‘Really strange’ situation led to Liverpool signing Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday the January deadline day signings of Ozan Kabak from Schalke and Ben Davies from Preston North End were a result of a “really strange” situation, with the club in the midst of a defensive crisis and mounting injury list. It came as he confirmed Virgil van Dijk is unlikely to return this season.

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Klopp: Van Dijk unlikely to play again this season

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp says it is unlikely Virgil Van Dijk will play again this season ahead of the Merseyside club’s clash with Brighton on Wednesday.

The Dutch defender ruptured knee ligaments in the Merseyside derby in October following a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, and underwent surgery that the club said was successful.

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Klopp admitted afterwards that Van Dijk’s knee did not look good.

Liverpool have been short in central defence due to Van Dijk and Joe Gomez’s long-term injuries. The club signed central defenders Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak on deadline day to help fill the void.

Klopp admits he does not expect to see Van Dijk back in competitive action this campaign.

He said: “In the moment, I don’t know where these things are coming from – nobody really, no doctor, nobody really told me there’s a chance for Virgil to play in this season again.

I don’t want to say that’s absolutely impossible but it’s not likely. It’s not likely. We don’t have to discuss these things really.

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“If we have space we would put them all on, even when all the medical people tell us there’s no chance. We put them on because we believe in miracles from time to time.

“But if there’s no place then we have to consider these kind of things and say, ‘The chance is not too big so we have to make the decision.’

“But if they are on the list then it’s only because we hope for nearly a miracle. That’s it.”

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TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES

Jurgen Redknapp

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All that was missing was Jurgen Klopp cruising into Melwood, winding down the window in his 4×4 and leaning out for a friendly interview. Indeed, it may have happened were we not gripped by a pandemic where only the most essential activities (and drives to test your eyesight) are allowed.

One can only imagine the reaction of Liverpool supporters when they realised they had a German Harry Redknapp at the helm. “Ben Davies? He’s alright but he’s not having the best of times under Mouri… what do you mean the other Ben Davies?”

Of course, Ben Davies II wasn’t the main event at Anfield. That accolade was reserved for ‘The Turkish Wall’, Ozan Kabak, who arrives with much hype from Schalke 04 – Eurosport Germany’s Tobias Hlusiak (reluctantly) told us he’s like a fast Mats Hummels. In the interest of balance (read: to irritate Liverpool fans) we should add that Schalke are bottom of the Bundesliga and Kabak was the main attraction in a defence that had conceded nine more than anyone else in the German top-flight.

But enough goading. With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and now Joel Matip all injured forever, Liverpool had to act. And, more selfishly, there wouldn’t have been a deadline day frenzy without them. They capped an otherwise underwhelming deadline day at the 11th hour by allowing Takumi Minamino to join Southampton on loan and Mo Salah to leave for Real Madrid. Bet you missed that last one.

‘Mo Salah, world class’ – Klopp raves about forward after brace

Elsewhere…

Not the most eventful day, but:

  • Arsenal have shipped out Ainsley Maitland-Niles (loan to West Brom), Joe Willock (loan to Newcastle) and Shkrodan Mustafi (forever)
  • Tottenham legend Gedson Fernandes has switched to Galatasaray, still on loan from Benfica
  • After starring in multiple Euro Papers, Sami Khedira disappointed us all in signing for Hertha Berlin
  • Moises Caicedo, the player we’ve all claimed to watch in the U-20 Copa Libertadores, has moved to Brighton
  • Everton, not wanting to be completely upstaged by their neighbours, signed Josh King after midnight (which is probably cheating, but we’ll let them off)

Head here for ALL the deals from deadline day.

Disappointment for Dele

Did anyone actually think this one would happen?

OK, we did for a bit. Alli would have thrived under his former manager, the man who elevated him to such great heights, in a team where he wouldn’t be scolded for trying the occasional flick. But there was always going to be a double problem: Daniel Levy and Jose Mourinho.

Levy was hardly going to give Mauricio Pochettino a leg-up at PSG. He knows that if Pochettino succeeds in Paris, and Mourinho continues with his toilet tactics, the blame will mount at his door. Meanwhile, Mourinho already has a lengthy scrapbook of players he unfairly rejected, so why would he risk another ‘I told you so’ moment?

Alli going to PSG only risked muddying the reputation of both men and Alli can’t prove them wrong if they never let him leave.

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Here’s the greatest January Deadline Day signing, Jermain Defoe, banging in five goals for Tottenham against Wigan:

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More Premier League football! Four games including Sheffield United versus West Brom in the battle for who finishes 20th (18:00) and Manchester United’s tame draw with Southampton (20:15).

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Klopp hails prolific Salah after Liverpool milestone

Jurgen Klopp said he was not surprised to see Mohamed Salah become the first Liverpool player to score at least 20 goals in four straight seasons since club great Ian Rush after the Egyptian netted twice in Sunday’s 3-1 win over West Ham United.

Salah’s double took his tally for the season to 21 in all competitions and manager Klopp said the forward had an incredible appetite for goals.

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“I’m not surprised. I work on a daily basis together with him (Salah) and he’ll never stop having a massive desire for scoring goals,” Klopp told reporters.

‘Mo Salah, world class’ – Klopp raves about forward after brace

Salah cut in to curl home with his left foot in the 57th minute on Sunday for his first league goal since Dec. 19, ending a run of six Premier League games without a goal.

He doubled his team’s advantage with a close-range finish 11 minutes later.

“He is a world-class player, there’s no doubt about that. How I said in the last few weeks when we didn’t score that many, the only thing you can do is try and try and try again. You have to make good decisions, or better decisions,” Klopp added.

“Tonight he didn’t force it. The first goal was a smart goal and in the last few weeks he probably would have tried to shoot through the legs, but this was really keeping the overview and chipping the ball into the far corner. Top-class goal.”

Rush netted 20 or more goals in six campaigns from 1981 through to 1987.

Liverpool, who are third and trail leaders Manchester City by four points, host Brighton & Hove Albion in the league on Wednesday.

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'In my opinion it's killed the game' – Salah takes swipe at VAR

Mohamed Salah has taken a swipe at VAR, with the Liverpool forward claiming it is killing the game.

Salah scored twice for Liverpool in their 3-1 win at West Ham on Sunday – the second time in three games he has netted a brace to signal a return to form.

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The victory at West Ham secured back-to-back wins for the Reds to revive their title hopes, but they are four points behind Manchester City having played a game more due in part to a poor run of form in the post-Christmas period.

That was a time when Salah went six league games without a goal, and he has suggested VAR had something to do with his and his side’s slump.

“I think before, I don’t like VAR!” Salah told Sky Sports.

“From the beginning of the season, in my opinion it’s killed the game. You have to be exactly the right side of the line [on offside decisions].

In other countries it’s OK. I don’t want to get a fine but it’s my opinion. I don’t like VAR.

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Salah’s goals were a landmark moment for the Egyptian, as in scoring twice he became the first player to net more than 20 goals in all competitions in four consecutive seasons for Liverpool since Ian Rush in the 1980s.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was delighted with the forward’s display.

“The goal itself was brilliant so it was a sign that things were clicking again and today he played a super game,” Klopp said. “His passing and control was brilliant throughout and for the first goal, I don’t think [West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz] Fabianski could see it. It was super smart.

For the second, there were two passes before Mo got the ball. His touch was first-class and it was a superb finish. Two outstanding goals. I’m not surprised with Mo. I work on a daily basis with him and he will always have a massive desire to score goals.

‘Mo Salah, world class’ – Klopp raves about forward after brace

“He’s a world-class player, there’s no doubt about that. In the past couple of weeks when we didn’t score that many, the only thing you can do when you’re not scoring is to keep trying to make better decisions. Tonight, we didn’t force it. He scored top-class goals.”

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Klopp says injury concern led to Milner tiff

iverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he substituted experienced midfielder James Milner in the second half of their 3-1 win at West Ham United because of his concern about more injuries.

Klopp and Milner were involved in a minor tiff on the touchline when Klopp sent on Curtis Jones, but a minute later they were all smiles as Jones was involved in the build-up to Mohamed Salah’s opening goal.

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It was easy to understand Klopp’s concern given the amount of injuries to key players this season — namely in defence with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and now Joel Matip also unavailable.

Forward Sadio Mane missed Sunday’s game too, while Roberto Firmino was not risked from the start.

“My mood is constantly concerned about injuries … and we try to save everybody, like it was with Millie as well,” Klopp said.

“But as far as I know in the moment, today nothing happened injury-wise. We played a good game and got three points, which was absolutely great.”

Klopp explained that he took Milner off because he was running too much.

“So the thing is, in half-time we changed the formation, offensive formation, so the set-up. Millie was now slightly deeper. We told Millie, because he had this hamstring (that) stiffened up slightly, so we told him, ‘Be controlled, more passing than running with the ball’ and stuff like this.

Then I saw the last long, long sprint Millie had and I thought, ‘Oh, we missed the point, we missed the moment’ and I was really, really worried.

“Then he came off and said, ‘You told me I had to play deeper, now I run less and now you take me off.’ Then he left and came back and said, ‘Yeah, by the way, good point, good decision!’ All fine.”

Liverpool’s win, their second of the week in London, put them into third place, four points behind leaders Manchester City who they host next weekend.

‘Mo Salah, world class’ – Klopp raves about forward after brace

“If you want to win the league, you have to win every game,” Salah, who scored twice having not registered in the league since mid-December, said. “This year City were struggling in the beginning and now we were struggling three or four games ago.

“So, we just need to carry on and keep winning.”

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'Mo Salah, world class' – Klopp raves about forward after brace

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Jurgen Klopp praised two-goal hero Mohamed Salah after he ended his six-game run without a Premier League goal with a brilliant brace against West Ham during a 3-1 win for Liverpool on Sunday. “The last pass was obviously spectacular from Shaq, the first touch from Mo outstanding, outstanding, world-class and then nice finish. Top game, top goals”

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Klopp coy on Liverpool transfer links with Ben Davies

Jurgen Klopp evaded questions about the prospect of Liverpool signing Ben Davies from Preston, but confirmed the search continues for a new central defender.

With just one day remaining in the January transfer window, Klopp is hunting a central defender to ease the problems in that department for the Reds.

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With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees, and Joel Matip and Fabinho suffering niggling problems, Klopp has been forced to plug gaps with unlikely sources.

Jordan Henderson has performed well when asked to drop into the centre of defence, but Klopp wants a new recruit and they have been linked with Davies.

The 25-year-old is also a target for Celtic, but Liverpool are now in the frame – albeit Klopp would not confirm it following the Reds’ 3-1 win over West Ham.

“Ben Davies plays for Tottenham right?” Klopp said with a smile on his face when asked by Sky Sports about the link. “Nothing to say on that.

“I have said it all the time, in our situation it makes sense [to sign a centre-back].

By the way Nate Phillips played an excellent game today. Milly (James Milner) and Hendo (Jordan Henderson) had better be careful as if they keep playing like that they may play there for the rest of their careers.

“Our eyes are always open and we try and fix our situation. If we can do it, I don’t know. If we can’t and we play tonight it’s not a problem. The problem is if something else happens and then we become a bit short.”

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