Jurgen Klopp has praised three Liverpool players after the team romped to a resounding 7-2 victory over Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup last night.
Klopp told the club’s official website that he was particularly delighted with the Curtis Jones who stepped up to the plate and deservedly took home the man-of-the-match award.
Jones, 19, delivered two stunning finishes from practically identical positions in the first-half to give Liverpool a commanding 4-0 lead at half-time.
He completed more dribbles, had more shots and won more fouls than any other Liverpool player and left the field as the Reds’ outstanding player on the night.
Klopp said: “I think everybody knows my opinion about Curtis Jones. He is an exceptional talent and we will have some fun with him, I’m pretty sure, in the future.
“Both goals were difficult. I think the second goal, the first touch was absolutely exceptional – between two opponents, little turn, then he opens up, sees the opportunity and finished it off.
“It was slightly deflected, but that’s just exceptional. All the goals we scored were really, really good tonight. Yes, Curtis enjoyed obviously the hard work tonight.”
Klopp appears to be a huge fan of Jones and it is performances such as this which vindicate why the West Derby midfielder is expected to play a more prominent role in the first team this season.
Jones has been identified as the natural successor to Adam Lallana following his incredible rise since graduating from the club’s academy set-up at Kirkby.
His continued brilliance in the team could effectively save Liverpool millions in the transfer market.
Shaqiri makes his impact
Xherdan Shaqiri rounded off his first start for the club since December 2019 with a stunning free-kick inside the opening 10 minutes.
The Switzerland international played in a much-deeper midfield role than he is accustomed to, but alongside Marko Grujic, Shaqiri provided a timely reminded of the quality he can showcase when called upon.
He made three key passes – more than any Liverpool player and he also demonstrated an unfamiliar side to his game with his defensive contributions.
Klopp was more than pleased to see Shaqiri back up-and-running.
“First of all it was a super game; a super game from Shaq in a quite, I’m not sure, unfamiliar position – slightly deeper in midfield. He did it really, really well,” Klopp added.
“The set-pieces were outstanding – the free-kick he scored with, what a goal that was! There is no doubt about Shaq’s quality, there was never [any doubt] and in the moment everything looks really, really good, it looks promising and we will see.”
Minamino shines again
If there is any player who has benefited from so much time away from the pitch following the effects of the pandemic then it is certainly Takumi Minamino.
The Japanese international looks a player transformed since being given time to settle into his new environment and role at the club. He has a newfound confidence and a swagger in his play which is directly contributing to goals for the team.
Against Lincoln, Minamino attempted four shots, made two key passes and enjoyed 57 touches with the ball. He also scored two goals – the first an absolute peach by the way – and contributed an assist.
Klopp was certainly pleased with Minamino’s latest glowing Liverpool audition.
He said: “I loved Taki’s game tonight, to be honest – it was absolutely outstanding and involved in so many situations. More and more, I think we all realise where his qualities are.
“Wherever he will play in the end, he will end up in the centre: if he plays on the left-wing or the right-wing, he will play in the half-spaces or the centre because that’s where he has his real strength.
“He looked really well. The opponent had to kick off seven times [after our goals] and the first guy who chased the opponent again when they received the pass was Taki.
“He set the rhythm for all these pressing and counter-pressing situations, so I really, really liked the game tonight.”
It doesn’t seem too long ago when the thought of watching a Liverpool team with 10 changes in the domestic cups would have filled fans with dread. However, with smart recruitment and the developing of young talent, the depth of quality Klopp currently has at his disposal in all areas of the squad is truly remarkable.
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