With news that Daniel Sturridge is set to stay for the remainder of the season, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp stressed that there are no plans to sell any members of his first-team squad. Klopp’s players have shown inspired form in the Premier League, and there’s an EFL Cup semi-final to look forward to next month. As usual, though, journalists asked questions with the January transfer window less than a month away.
“The funny thing is that you and your colleagues create stories which are not stories and then you ask me about a story which is not a story!” Klopp said. “What can I say about this? There’s absolutely no idea or no thought to sell any player of the first-team squad actually. I don’t think it would make sense to. But I am prepared for January, for all the things you could ask in January. It will be funny, I’m sure!”
Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria, and Trent Alexander-Arnold took centre stage this week after impressing against Leeds United in the EFL Cup. Ejaria seems to have snuck in ahead of Marko Grujić on the midfield depth chart, Alexander-Arnold is trusted enough to be Nathaniel Clyne’s understudy at right back, and Woodburn has replaced Michael Owen as the youngest goalscorer in the club’s history.
These three teenagers have given supporters hope that a new generation can break through under Klopp, and as a result, they will affect how Liverpool operate in the transfer window. Bringing young talent through is the way FSG and Klopp want to work, though. That’s not to say that there is an unwillingness to compete for talent in the market, but the past week hasn’t suddenly made those working at the club aware of the importance of young players.
“We don’t have to change anything because we never forget them. It’s that simple, they are involved in all our plans, not only the three lads now,” he said. “I don’t know exactly when you stop being a young player, but in my opinion, 22, 23 is still a young player - 12, 13 years to go in your career. We have a lot of these boys in the club.
“We need to create a situation where they can come through, where they are ready in the moment when we use them. There will be some ups and downs for sure, but if you are under the right circumstances and at the right club then everything will be good at the end.
“We have no doubt about the potential of these boys. With a little bit of luck, lot of training, a lot of education and attitude, you can get a decent player, I would say, and that’s what we are all working on.”
Suso is an example of balancing the needs of giving a talented young player an opportunity to play with his desire for regular football. Since moving to Serie A from Liverpool, the player needed eighteen months at AC Milan and a loan spell at Genoa before making an impact with the Rossoneri. As Klopp went on to say, his responsibility for young players is to “give them the time they need” to flourish.
Right now it’s about keeping the options we’ve got and giving youngsters opportunities to thrive. Sounds like a plan.