Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Liverpool youngster Stefan Bajcetic tired before being substituted against Chelsea today.
Bajcetic completed 82 minutes on his first Premier League start, as Liverpool drew 0-0 with the Blues. After picking up a first-half booking, the 18-year-old battled admirably against the Chelsea midfield.
Speaking in his post-match press conference via liverpoolfc.com, Klopp went out of his way to praise Bajcetic, whilst also giving context to his substitution.
“There are not a lot of good things in the situation we are in, but obviously that opens doors and gaps and situations for young players,” began the Liverpool manager.
“It is obviously one of the rare positive things, especially Stefan. There was a door, I’m not even sure it was open, but he ran through it and he was exceptional. He does really well in the moment, I think that’s clear. We have to be a bit careful with him of course, he’s really young.
“He had a yellow card and I don’t even know [if] it was his fault, to be 100 per cent honest. But he got a yellow card, so of course he got tired, but [he] was still really good in the game. Each player when he gets tired and is on a yellow card is a risk, and we didn’t want to take that. But, no, he is doing really well.”
Bajcetic takes his chance against Chelsea
In all honesty, Bajcetic was probably on the pitch 10 minutes or so longer than he should have been this afternoon.
He visibly tired throughout the second-half, becoming a little sloppy in possession as the game wore on. It was a surprise that Klopp and co didn’t bring in the experienced Fabinho before they eventually did.
Still, no harm, no foul. Despite his rapidly decreasing energy levels, Bajcetic was still effective in the Reds midfield. He may be just a teenager with a wiry frame, but he isn’t afraid of throwing himself into challenges.
As is needed for a Liverpool No.6, he shielded the back-four well, broke up play and dictated the ball from deep. For such a young player to perform so well in such a big game is a real testament to Bajcetic’s quality.
Klopp was obviously impressed too. Even if the substitution was a little overdue. Having made the big call to throw the Spaniard into the XI for a must-not-lose game, it will be interesting to see if he stays in the team.
Next week poses a real test as Liverpool head back to the Amex to take on Brighton. The midfield of Fabinho/Henderson/Thiago was dismantled appallingly by the Seagulls just last week. That may be reason enough to keep Bajcetic involved.