Liverpool were 2-0 winners against Leicester in the Premier League on Thursday night; Luis Diaz made an impressive PL debut after signing in the January transfer window; Sadio Mane to return to training on Friday following his Africa Cup of Nations win with Senegal
Friday 11 February 2022 14:29, UK
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Jurgen Klopp believes Luis Diaz’s Premier League debut was “one of the best” he has ever seen and confirmed Sadio Mane will return to training on Friday.
Diaz, who was handed his first Premier League appearance on Thursday night, produced an eye-catching performance in their 2-0 home win over Leicester.
The Colombian joined the Reds from Porto last month in a £49m deal and appears to have adapted quickly to life in England following an impressive display at Anfield against the Foxes, after being handed his first start by Klopp.
Asked why Diaz has adjusted so quickly following his move, the German said in his news conference on Friday: “His skillset. His character.
“It was probably one of the best [first games] I’ve ever seen from a new player.
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“That’s true, because he looked completely natural but it’s only a first game and we have to see how he’ll adapt to all of the different stuff and the intensities in the Premier League.
“There’s no rush, but last night was a very good opportunity to start him because Sadio [Mane] was not here yet and Mo [Salah] is coming back from an incredibly intense tournament.
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“It was then a really good moment [to start Diaz] and he showed up.”
Klopp had also spoken about Diaz on Thursday night, in his post-match news conference. He said: “When we saw him playing for Porto, we thought ‘yes, that’s exactly what we want him to do as well’. On top of that, he seems to be a really smart footballer and has obviously watched us quite a lot.
“We don’t want to overload new players with information in the first week and tell them everything we want from them in one week. But we took a look and he looked like a Liverpool player, it’s true.”
But Diaz is set to face strong competition for a starting place at Burnley on Sunday, after Klopp revealed Mane will return to training on Friday.
The 29-year-old is back amongst the squad after helping Senegal to win the Africa Cup of Nations last Sunday, but Klopp did not confirm whether he will be involved at Turf Moor this weekend.
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Klopp said: “Sadio will come to training this morning and I assume he will be in full training, and then we make a decision after that on how he feels.
“Emotionally he will probably still be high-flying, but physically we have to see how intense the last few days were for him.”
There are no doubts however, over Jordan Henderson’s involvement on Sunday with the captain returning to the squad following a back injury he picked up in the FA Cup win over Cardiff.
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“Hendo will definitely be back,” Klopp said. “That was always the plan before the [Leicester] game and the plan now.
“If nothing happens, he will play on Sunday.”
Thursday night’s victory sees Liverpool go nine points behind Pep Guardiola’s side at the top of the Premier League while having a game in hand, but Klopp does not think the gap is enough to trouble the reigning champions.
“I am not sure we’re in a position to get them on their toes, to be honest,” he said after the win over Leicester. “Actually, we have no chance to catch them, but it doesn’t mean we won’t play the best possible season for us.
“First and foremost, we have to win our football games and this club is massive. Since I’m here, I can’t remember a game we lost and everyone said ‘yeah, we can lose that game’, so it’s always the same situation.
“There’s a game, we put on the shirts and we have to win it. It doesn’t work out all the time, but thankfully it’s happened a couple of times.
“It was really important tonight for us to win because there’s not only Man City to catch or whatever, there are lots of teams behind us who want to get closer and that’s a very important task as well.
“I don’t think they smell our breath already, but we just try to win football games.”
Diogo Jota took his tally to 17 goals for the season as he popped up again with more decisive goals for Liverpool, with Klopp sure the forward has not yet hit his full potential.
“He is obviously in a really good goalscoring moment, which is incredibly helpful. It is always helpful, but it was now in the absence of Mo and Sadio extremely helpful,” said Klopp after the game.
“We knew he was good, but we had no idea how good, or where his limit is, or where he can go and I am not sure he is already there, he is just improving.
“If you speak to him you will realise he is a really smart person, so he will judge all that right and then will use that for the next steps.
17 – Diogo Jota has now scored 17 goals across all competitions for Liverpool this season; already his most in a single campaign while playing for a Premier League club. Explosion.
“Diogo was not a bargain, it was not as if we got him for free. The first thing that was obvious about him was his potential that was there, the work-rate that he puts in – that was the most important.
“If you have that then there is always space for improvement. He’s still a really young lad so you have to make the next steps in the team with us where we create much more chances than, with all due respect, Wolves did.
“You need a bit of fantasy for that and imagination, but we really thought he would be an outstanding player. He was already when he came here but he has improved.”
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