Pep Lijnders' latest training camp diary entry sees the assistant manager discuss the 1-0 victory over FSV Mainz 05, reveal a target Andy Robertson has set for himself and detail an outstanding performance from young goalkeeper Harvey Davies in training.
Our training is our fuel, that’s what we believe. That’s how and why we created the team we have. Making the collective better, forcing the individuals to improve. We need full determination of each player to make the next step; we can - and we will - be better again.
The Mainz game was a step in the right direction with more organisation and more discipline. Winning the game was important, keeping the ‘nil’ was important. We wanted to go more in detail and we did, the ‘quick breakaways’ were very good. The moment we played with more speed in our short passes and involving more players, we created chances. Options everywhere and ready to receive everywhere is the target.
It’s a good base working towards Hertha, but we need more determination to be well organised from everyone. We need to be more co-ordinated, especially when we are tired. It’s all about tactical discipline if you want to create ‘help from everywhere’. We are playing against teams who are longer in their pre-season, which makes each game a proper test. But that’s what we wanted: tests. Finals. To show that a little bit defending just doesn’t work.
In the year we became Premier League champions, we only won against Lyon in the last match of pre-season, as well as against Tranmere and Bradford in the first two. In our best phases we had this mentality to see the next game as the final. This is the mentality we want NOW, not tomorrow.
There is a continuous competition between the teams (first half and second half) counting the amount of successful counter-pressing situations and we are improving step by step. In the first 15 minutes against Barcelona, we lost the ball 11 times and won it back 10 times immediately - that’s attacking the game, instead of attacking the goal. In our best games, we reached incredible numbers. It’s a great way to put more context to our pre-season games.
While I’m writing, Vitor and Andreas are taking a session with Robbo, Jota, Conor and Jake. Robbo and Jota look so much alike, there must be a relation between the Scottish and Portuguese a long, long time ago.
Getting started ⚽️ https://t.co/4J5qscgdVa— DiogoJota18 (Diogo Jota) 23rd Jul 12:33
By the way, this session looks like the future of football: six coaches and five players. Jürgen and myself are watching from the sidelines, not making it eight versus five, because that wouldn’t be fair on the lads!
Jürgen creates a great mood; it’s early in the morning but he is throwing a few jokes around. Conall is doing a ball-orientated warm-up - we call him the No.12 because when we need an extra player he joins and adds a little bit of Northern Irish determination.
They are ending the session with counter-attacks; the passes are well played in front to keep the right speed but Harvey Davies killed the exercise by making some spectacular saves.
Jürgen shouts from 100 metres, “Love it Harvey!” but Robbo is fuming! Haha! In these counter-attacking drills, when our players don’t score they need to sprint back quickly to the halfway line. Remember one of our coaching principles, the better you play the more you play. The better you finish the less you run. The worse you play the more you run. Natural pressure. I like to make the team fit in this way a lot.
On his arrival yesterday evening, Robbo said he can get five goals this season… after this first session he said he was thinking he might even be able to get seven, maybe!
I told the boys afterwards, ‘’Top session, guys!’… Jürgen responded immediately, “Top session, Harvey!”
This afternoon will be some time off for everyone. The boys got treatment this morning and now they can go fishing, play golf, take the bikes or just relax in the spa here. It’s a perfect place to combine hard work, recovery and clearing the head at the right moment, especially as the weather has settled down. As I've said before, when you ask a lot of your players, you need to give a lot as well.
Two weeks have flown past since we began our training camp and tomorrow morning we will travel to our new hotel in Tirol. Millie has found out there is a golf simulator in there, so our vice-captain is happy!
But there’s plenty of work to be done and the hard work continues. We’re looking forward to going to this new hotel, new surroundings and from there making a next step in our pre-season.
Speak to you again soon,
Pep Lijnders was speaking to James Carroll
In his own words, Sadio Mane labelled last season as the worst of his career but having finally been given the chance to reset he has delivered the words all Reds want to hear.
Those 218 appearances have been coupled with international action for Senegal throughout the season and into the summer and it has meant he hasn’t had significant time off since 2017.
And you could see the accumulative fatigue took its toll on the No. 10 last season, with Mane a shadow of his electric and lethal former self.
A tally of 16 and nine assists appears a solid contribution from a winger on paper, but there could be no denying his drop off.
A four-week break over the summer looks to have worked wonders, with his appearances in pre-season to date showing a return of the spark we’ve long missed, with his sharpness no doubt soon to follow.
“I think it’s always important as a player to have a break because I can say since I came to Liverpool this was the first time I have had four weeks or more holidays, so I think that sometimes helps a lot,” Mane explained to LiverpoolFC.com.
“I could see from day one that everybody was looking sharp, which for me was unbelievable!
“I am not complaining about having one week or two weeks’ holiday, but I think it’s always extra [helpful] for us to have this long period of holiday.”
It didn’t mean he put his feet up completely, but the mental break was just as important as Mane has long considered tiredness is in one’s mind, and now he’s ready for an “exciting season.”
“At the same time we have been working in individual training [during the summer], which is also important because you could see from day one that everybody was looking sharp and ready to go for the new season.
“To be honest, everybody, and myself for sure, feels more ready. I always say tiredness is here [in the head] and obviously you have to be mentally strong to cope with it, but at the same time I think resting is the best [thing].
“It was not my best season, which I know,” he continued. “Like I always said, it can happen in football but I think it won’t be the same [next] season.
“For sure, I am more ready, mentally, physically, everything, so I think it will be for myself an exciting season.”
Liverpool winger Harry Wilson is undergoing a medical ahead of a £12m move to Fulham.
Wilson, who represented Wales at Euro 2020, was part of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool squad on their training camp in Austria.
The 24-year-old spent last season on loan in the Championship at Cardiff where he made 38 appearances in all competitions.
Wilson will become Fulham's first summer signing under new manager Marco Silva, who succeeded Scott Parker following the club's relegation from the Premier League.
The Liverpool academy graduate made only two senior appearances for the Premier League club.
He has generated £5m in loan fees for Liverpool over the past few seasons from spells at Crewe, Hull, Derby, Bournemouth and Cardiff.Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports
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Liverpool have given Harry Wilson the green light to leave the training camp in Austria to finalise details of his permanent move to Fulham.
Wilson is to become the third player to land a new permanent home this week, following on from the departures of Marjo Grujic (£10.5m) and Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.5m).
The 24-year-old has been on Liverpool’s books since under-9 level but is finally to be handed an opportunity to lay down some roots, with Fulham to land the Wales international.
It means Wilson will continue to ply his trade in the Championship having featured prominently for Cardiff last season, with the Cottagers no doubt eyeing a swift return to the Premier League under new manager Marco Silva.
It means that the Reds have banked £33 million in transfer fees over the last few days as they look to offload players who have long been on the fringe.
It will go some way in adding to the squad over the coming weeks, with a midfielder and forward still a top priority for Liverpool before the window closes on August 31.
Wilson has agreed to personal terms with Fulham and is on his way to London to finalise his move, which will end his 16-year association with the Reds.
In that time, he made just two senior appearances as his time was largely spent on loan having plied his trade with Crewe, Hull, Derby, Bournemouth and Cardiff in various loan spells.
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We won’t bring you gossip or rumours, just what is really happening and why.
Johansen, who joined Fulham in 2016, made a positive impression while on loan at QPR last season and the Championship side have been pushing to retain the Norway international on a permanent basis.
Following the arrival of Marco Silva at Fulham, it seemed that Johansen could have been given another chance at the club as the new manager assessed his options within the squad.
But ultimately, QPR have acquired his services and will be hoping the 30-year-old can continue to perform brightly, having grabbed four goals and two assists in his 21 appearances since joining the club in January.
Chelsea academy graduate Ian Maatsen will join Coventry City next week on a season-long loan, reports Liam Twomey.
Maatsen, 19, spent last season on loan in League One with Charlton Athletic, making 34 appearances and scoring his first senior professional goal in a 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers in April.
Last month Charlton manager Nigel Adkins confirmed that he would be interested in bringing Maatsen back to The Valley, but both the player and Chelsea favoured a Championship loan to further his development.
Coventry intend to deploy Maatsen as a left wing-back in their system, and it is hoped that manager Mark Robins’ expansive passing style will give the Dutch youth international opportunities to take his game to the next level.
Maatsen was involved in the early days of Chelsea’s preseason training at Cobham, but was not part of the squad that travelled to Republic of Ireland on Tuesday. He will complete his move to Coventry next week.
Chelsea did not seek to extend the contract of Maatsen — who signed a new deal in March 2020 that commits him to the club until at least June 2024 — but he is regarded internally as one of the club’s more promising youngsters.
Maatsen does not turn 20 until March 2022, and will be hoping to return to Chelsea next summer with a second full season of regular football under his belt and his reputation further enhanced.
The club are targeting the 21-year-old as a player for their senior squad just hours after adding another Chelsea player, Lewis Bate, to their Under-23 ranks.
A central midfielder is the club’s top priority after they secured the arrival of £13m left-back Junior Firpo from Barcelona this month.
Leeds have been monitoring Gallagher throughout the summer and are understood to have pitched the transfer to him already with the start of the new Premier League season on the horizon.
Crystal Palace are also seriously interested in him and are vying with Leeds for his signature.
Gallagher is currently training with Chelsea but the Stamford Bridge side are ready to sanction another temporary move in this window after sending him to West Bromwich Albion last season and Swansea City the year before.
His spell at The Hawthorns, where he made 28 league starts, gave him Premier League experience and Leeds consider him a good fit under Marcelo Bielsa.
Chelsea are unwilling to consider permanent bids for Gallagher and are likely to look for him to sign a new contract before he heads out but manager Thomas Tuchel does not see him as part of his plans for the 12 months ahead.
Yesterday, United wrapped up the £1.2m arrival of Bate from Stamford Bridge. While the 18-year-old will begin life at Elland Road in the development squad, Gallagher would link up immediately with Bielsa’s senior squad if Leeds can push a deal through.
The highly-regarded 19-year-old rejected the chance to remain at Stamford Bridge in a bid to boost his chances of playing first-team football.
Simeu will arrive at St Mary’s on a free transfer but Southampton will pay up to £1.5 million if certain clauses are met. A sell-on fee has also been inserted into the contract.
The Athletic is led to believe the south coast side will only start paying for Simeu once he starts playing for the first team.
The Athletic understands that the 24-year-old forward’s name features on a shortlist drawn up of potential attacking targets.
Whether Liverpool reinforce their squad in that area in the current window depends to a large extent on whether Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri leave Anfield. The club are open to offers for both players with Shaqiri attracting interest from Lazio.
Bowen fits the profile for Liverpool in terms of his age, playing style and versatility. He’s viewed as someone with massive potential who would initially provide high calibre back-up and increase competition for places.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp rates him highly and the club will continue to monitor his development even if they don’t ultimately pursue a deal this summer.
Bowen, who started his career at Hereford United, joined West Ham from Hull City for £18 million potentially rising to £25 million with add-ons in January 2020.
He scored eight goals and contributed five assists in 38 league appearances last season. His contract at the London Stadium runs until 2025.
The 23-year-old Wolverhampton Wanderers stopper has impressed since arriving last week and will now challenge for a starting place in the team.
Boss Lee Bowyer had made it clear that he needed a new goalkeeper before the start of the season following Neil Etheridge’s absence with COVID-19.
A return date has not been set for Etheridge, who is out of hospital and back with his family, but will not be rushed back.
Etheridge could be out for a matter of weeks, if not months, and that’s why Sarkic has made the switch from Wolves.
The Montenegro international spent his early years at Aston Villa but couldn’t find a way into the team as he was behind a number of senior goalkeepers.
He joined Wolves last summer and was sent out on loan to League One side Shrewsbury Town.
Although he has been on the bench a number of times for Villa in the Championship, this will be his first real chance of playing in the second-tier now an agreement is in place to join Birmingham.
The move is expected to be confirmed in the next 24 hours.
Liverpool have told Fulham they want £15 million for winger Harry Wilson, reports James Pearce.
The London club, who are looking to bounce back following relegation from the Premier League last season, are keen to sign the Wales international.
Discussions are ongoing with no official bid on the table but Liverpool insist £15 million is a fair price. They point to the fact that Fulham have previously paid that amount for fellow widemen Ivan Cavaleiro and Anthony Knockaert. They view Wilson as comparable in terms of his profile.
Liverpool turned down a bid of around £12 million for Wilson from Burnley last season and believe he’s progressed since then following a successful loan spell at Cardiff City where he scored seven goals and contributed 12 assists.
The 24-year-old accepts the time is right to secure a permanent move away from Anfield as he wants regular game time. As well as Cardiff, he has previously been loaned out to Crewe, Hull City, Derby County and Bournemouth.
Benfica, Brentford and West Bromwich Albion have also shown interest in Wilson this summer.
Wrexham-born Wilson has been on Liverpool’s books since under-nines level. His only senior appearances were against Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup during the 2016-17 campaign and against Arsenal in the League Cup last season.
For the latest Liverpool transfer news click here.
Leeds United hope to complete the signing of Chelsea midfielder Lewis Bate before the end of the week after agreeing a fee with the west London club, reports Simon Johnson.
The Athletic has been told that personal terms are being discussed in view of Bate conducting a medical at Leeds on Wednesday. Chelsea have negotiated a sell-on clause as part of the switch, but have not inserted a buy back clause.
There is still the danger of one of the other interested clubs trying to hijack the move at the 11th hour. The Athletic reported on Monday that Leeds were the favourites to secure the 18-year-old’s signature, but faced competition from West Ham, Liverpool, Leicester City and Brighton.
Time is running out for the others to make a bid though and the player has already given a major indication his mind is made up by following a number of Leeds players on Instagram.
Chelsea have been left with no choice to negotiate with clubs over selling the youngster after Bate made it clear he wasn’t going to sign a contract extension.
The west London club opened talks with Bate before the end of last season and made a good offer, but the England Under-19 international rejected it because he is worried about the lack of a pathway to appearances in the first team.
That meant Chelsea had to discuss a sale because he has only one year left on his current deal and they’d only be entitled to a nominal amount in compensation if he left in 2022.
Bate is a very highly rated teenager, who has been compared with another Chelsea prodigy Billy Gilmour. He came close to making a senior debut under former manager Frank Lampard last year when he was named on the bench against Sheffield United and Bayern Munich.
Meanwhile, another academy graduate Ike Ugbo is hoping to complete a permanent transfer to Belgian club Genk FC in the next few days. Ugbo, who scored an impressive 16 goals in 32 appearances while on loan at Cercle Bruges last season, has already agreed a wage package.
The hold-up is being caused by the size of the fee. Chelsea want £5 million for the 22-year-old, but Genk aren’t willing to pay such a high sum for the forward because he has just one year left on his contract at Stamford Bridge.
There is still optimism that a compromise will be reached so it can be finalised by the weekend.
Celtic rejected £10 million bids from Norwich City and Bayer Leverkusen in June for the Norwegian international’s services. Celtic informed interested parties that £15 million would be the fee required to separate them for their player. Last week Celtic rebuffed Brentford’s opening bid, which is believed to have been also £12 million up-front but totalling to £15 million with add-ons valued at roughly £3 million, a lower value than the finally agreed fee.
More than 1,000 local school children who live around Anfield and Kirkby are set to return to the stadium this season thanks to the club's free school tickets initiative.
Red Neighbours has donated tickets to 28 local schools in preparation for the 2021-22 Premier League campaign, which sees the Reds hosting Burnley for their first home game on Saturday August 21.
Each school receives free tickets to attend three Premier League home matches at Anfield throughout the season.
Pupils from Alsop High School, New Park Primary School and Florence Melly Community Primary School headed to Anfield this week to collect their tickets before they break for summer school holidays.
Forbes Duff, senior manager at Red Neighbours, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome our young supporters back to Anfield this season.
“It has been a long, hard 18 months for everyone, so it’s great to be able to return to a level of normality and bring some joy to the pupils once again with our free ticket donation.
“The pupils have really missed coming to the game, just as we have missed having fans in the stadium. They’re all really looking forward to cheering the Reds on to success once again.”
Last season’s unprecedented defensive injury crisis derailed Liverpool’s title defence and left them in a desperate late fight to secure Champions League qualification. Klopp was forced to field no fewer than 20 different partnerships at the heart of his back line as the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip cut deep. The entire balance of the team was affected as midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson were pressed into duty as makeshift centre-backs.
There was little continuity. Only three of those combinations played more than 400 minutes of football together in all competitions over the course of 2020-21. Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak (644 minutes) led the way, followed by Matip and Fabinho (555 minutes), and Phillips and Rhys Williams (540 minutes).
Given the array of problems Liverpool faced it’s little wonder that Klopp regards their third-placed finish — after taking 26 points of the last 30 on offer — as among his greatest achievements. They were heavily indebted to rookies Phillips and Williams for delivering when the stakes were high during the run-in.
However, the landscape has been transformed since May. Liverpool’s big hitters are on the comeback trail and Klopp has a different kind of headache as he plots a return to challenging for the biggest prizes in 2021-21.
He’s had eight centre-backs to work with during the club’s training camp in Austria. That number was reduced to seven prior to Friday’s 1-0 friendly win over Mainz when Ben Davies was given permission to fly home to the UK. Liverpool insist it’s a personal matter and not linked to talk of a possible transfer. They expect him to rejoin the squad later in the trip.
Some big decisions lie on the horizon for Klopp.
Watch extended highlights of Liverpool's 1-0 pre-season win over FSV Mainz 05 via LFCTV GO now.
Luca Kilian's 86th-minute own goal from Owen Beck's cross was the crucial moment in Friday's warm-up fixture in Grodig, Austria.
Jürgen Klopp used the full-length match to give minutes to more than 20 of his squad as they prepare for the 2021-22 campaign.
Subscribers can see the best of the action against Bundesliga side Mainz in the highlights package above.
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Jürgen Klopp was happy with his teams' efforts during Friday's 1-0 pre-season friendly victory over FSV Mainz 05 in Austria.
An own goal by Luca Kilian, who sent Owen Beck’s cross past his goalkeeper with five minutes remaining, gave the Reds the win in front of 3,500 supporters at Untersberg-Arena in Grodig.
Klopp fielded different XIs in each half in order to give his squad much-needed match practice in their first 90-minute game of the summer.
Read on for a transcript of the boss’ post-match interview with Liverpoolfc.com.
On grinding out a victory over Mainz…
You always consider what you did in the days before. We had a double session yesterday, we trained this morning, so it’s exactly what you need. That’s how training works, you have to do the intensive stuff, go through it, try to play the best football you can. It’s the pre-season. Yes, I am happy about a lot of situations I saw; I saw in the first half some really good football where we came through, we passed, we passed the ball quite quickly, quick enough against a good, organised side, a deep-defending side and this kind of stuff. It was far away from being perfect, but it is absolutely OK. Second half I saw the boys, the kids, fought for a result and they got it. They forced it and I am happy about that. We had to defend, of course, because they are good – and organisation-wise, it is not even close to where we have to be, but as I said, when you are tired you try to bring the best organisation possible on the pitch. It is never about 100 per cent, it is about the available per cent – and I think the boys did that today, so I am happy. Nobody injured, that’s important as well, everybody came through, so fine, really fine for today.
On the performances of Liverpool’s youngsters…
Harvey [Elliott] again first half, really, really good. The kids are doing well, I have to say. I really enjoyed a lot watching them and helping them to understand the game better and better and better, to understand the position and they have to be brave otherwise it would be a waste of time. That Owen was involved in the goal is nice for him, he played good I have to say. Second half we played a different system but you have to make the difference in little one-on-one situations; if you get the ball and only are passing, we have always eight players in really good positions. You are everywhere under pressure, but if you can make a little difference with a little acceleration then all of sudden the game changed. We did that, Owen did that in a couple of times, Kaide [Gordon] did it as well. We had good balls in behind for Divock [Origi]. Billy [Koumetio] played his first game of pre-season, was OK as well, so all fine.
On whether Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez could return against Hertha BSC next week…
Yeah, it would still be a surprise, unfortunately. But they look really good. Look, I think, they do everything, they play football, we keep them in training, we do the things we can do, they don’t too much and stuff like this. We just have to be patient – we prepare for a full season, not for a pre-season game. I will not risk it for a game here, so we have to see. We have a lot of games still coming, pre-season games, but I don’t see them being involved for the next one.
Owen Beck will happily claim an assist after his cross forced the own goal that earned Liverpool a 1-0 win over FSV Mainz 05 on Friday.
The left-back was part of the second-half Reds XI for the pre-season friendly in Austria and his firm delivery from the flank proved the deciding moment on 86 minutes.
Luca Kilian could only turn the ball beyond his own goalkeeper and into the Mainz net, giving Jürgen Klopp’s side victory from a hard-fought contest in humid conditions.
Asked post-match if it almost felt like scoring himself, Beck told Liverpoolfc.com: “Yeah, thank you.
“I saw the ball came down the line and I only had one thing in my mind really, which was to cross. Happy to get the win – maybe class it as an assist!”
Several thousand supporters were permitted to attend the contest in Grodig, in which the manager once again used two different XIs in each half.
“There hasn’t been many fans in recently because of COVID, so it was nice to have a few fans back in and singing all game. It was a good experience,” said Beck.
“We had quite a few young lads playing, but the likes of Nat Phillips and Div led the team, to be fair.”
Beck is one of a number of Academy talents included in Klopp’s squad for the training camp, which is now almost a fortnight old.
The group has been further bolstered by the arrivals of Diogo Jota and Andy Robertson in recent days – and Beck is naturally eager to begin work alongside the latter on the training pitches.
“I can’t wait for him to start training and I can take a few things out of his game and put them into mine,” added the 18-year-old.
“And even with Kostas now, I’m learning a lot from Kostas.”