Klopp’s plan for new Liverpool centre-backs as Van Dijk rumour clarified
Jurgen Klopp has told his new signings they have earned their “Hollywood” move to Anfield, but now the hard work really starts.
The Liverpool boss dished out a huge dollop of cold, hard reality, when he insisted both Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak will first have to prove themselves capable of performing at the very highest level, before they are handed a starting slot in the Champions’ line up.
Yet Klopp is happy to challenge Championship defender Davies, and 20-year-old rookie Kabak, to snatch their opportunity with both hands and see if they can write a fairytale ending to their “nice stories”.
“You don’t need to watch a Hollywood movie to see these kind of stories in football. Yesterday Preston today Liverpool, that's a nice story already," said Klopp of Davies.
“Ozan is pretty young but that makes it really special because he has this experience. Ben is the same, slightly older, different pathway but I like that.
"I am a big fan of chances and giving opportunities and this is an absolute chance for the club, the team and the boys as well.
“Whatever they did so far was good enough that we wanted to have them. From now we expect more, easy as that. Each single player has to make the team better – and that's what we expect from the two boys as well.”
Kabak’s clearance from the Bundesliga didn’t come through in time for the young Turkish international to be available for the game at Brighton, but Davies may find a place on the bench, with Jordan Henderson and Nat Phillips set to continue at centre back.
Fabinho will be back from injury for Sunday’s huge clash with Manchester City, and Klopp will go with experience in partnering him with Henderson, fitness allowing.
And that will show both new signings the size of the task they face in actually forcing a way into the starting XI.
Klopp though, has told them they have a real chance, especially as he flattened the hope that Virgil van Dijk will return much earlier than expected this year, quashing rumours he could be back soon.
“I don’t know where these things are coming from,” he said.
“No doctor really told me that there is a chance for Virgil to play in this season again. I don’t want to say that is absolutely impossible but it is not likely.
“If we have space we will put them all on (the Champions League squad), because we believe in miracles from time to time, but if there is no place then we have to say the chances are not too big so we have to make a decision.”
Klopp also revealed that van Dijk’s absence was a reason for allowing Taki Minamino to go out on loan, as unlikely as that sounds.
“Takumi is an incredibly good player and we didn’t give him enough chances that is the truth. For different reasons," said Klopp.
“Sometimes it was just due to size because of our problems in defence we were not tall enough and with Takumi on the pitch – how can we do that?
“Defending set pieces are a very important part of the game. In some moments these kind of things make the difference on why one player plays and the other does not.
"Now he can play at Southampton.”
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