Barcelona's vice-president Jordi Mestre has played down talks of a deal for Ajax sensation Matthijs de Ligt being close to completion.
A host of clubs have been attributed with an interest in the Netherlands international, including Liverpool, Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City, but recent speculation had suggested the race was nearing an end.
The 19-year-old Ajax captain has attracted plaudits across the continent following a sensational campaign with the Eredivisie title-chasers, which has also seen them reach the Champions League semi-finals and secure 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg.
According to the reports, Barcelona were closing in on De Ligt’s signature and the teenager would follow teammate Frenkie De Jong to Catalonia this summer but Mestre has suggested that is not the case, revealing a move for a new defender may not be a priority.
"I don't know why they're saying this because [De Ligt] hasn't signed," he told Sky, via Marca.
"[Gerard] Pique is evidently one of the best central defenders in the world, if not the best.
"After him, we have players like [Clement] Lenglet, [Samuel] Umtiti and we've signed a very young player in [Jean-Clair] Todibo.
“The defenders we already have are of the highest level.
"In De Ligt's case, we'll speak with the sporting director at the end of the season and we'll speak not about De Ligt, but about what they say."
Source: Liverpool Echo
This story has been reproduced from the media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.
Andy Robertson struggles to find the words to describe the grit and determination of this Liverpool team as they continue to overcome giant hurdles in the 2018-19 campaign.
The Reds showed their defiant side to secure a dramatic 3-2 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday and keep alive their Premier League title ambitions.
They lost leading goalscorer Mohamed Salah to injury midway through the second half at St. James' Park, but his replacement Divock Origi had the final say when he headed in Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick with four minutes of the 90 remaining.
"That's us down to a tee this season," Robertson told Liverpoolfc.com post-match. "How many times have we done it? How many times have we been written off and people think 'OK, this isn't going to be our game' or whatever?
"We just keep on coming back and we keep on scoring goals. I can't explain it. But if we don't do it next Sunday and City are crowned champions, we can be proud of what we've done, everyone. So we are in there, we've stuck together and hopefully we get 97 points.
"And if that's not enough then we've done everything that we can. It would obviously be gutting but these lads don't know when to give up and that's why these things happen."
Robertson felt the contribution of Liverpool's second-half substitutes at Newcastle typified the quality and first-class attitude of the squad.
The left-back also singled out Daniel Sturridge for praise as the striker started the second consecutive league match in place of the injured Roberto Firmino.
He continued: "First of all, I was devastated for him [Salah] and then when he went off I looked at the clock and thought there was going to be a good bit of injury time if we needed it.
"Fortunately we didn't need it and we needed the whistle quicker! That's football, but how many times have I said that this squad has been unbelievable this season?
"Studge, my word, what a shift he put in, especially the last 10 minutes. He's not really played. Div comes off the bench and scores, Shaq with the assist. His corner just before it was unbelievable and the free-kick was just on the money.
"The subs make a difference and we are always ready to get on the pitch and make a difference.
"The lads who have been left at home and lads who are on the bench and haven't come on, they are buzzing for us and there's no egos in this squad and that's why we are where we are today and long may it continue.
"If we do fall short this season we will be back next season and we just need to keep going and keep going, and hopefully get what this club deserves."
Manchester City can ensure the title remains in their own hands ahead of the final day with a victory over Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City on Monday night.
Robertson, however, believes the former Liverpool boss owes him a favour after his switch to the King Power Stadium in February.
"I don't know [if I will watch it]," the Scot concluded. "I've not shied away from the other ones, it's not worked, so maybe I'll try something different!
"Look, if I watch it or don't watch it, it's not going to make a difference. I'm a Celtic fan, Brendan's left us so he maybe owes me one!
"Leicester City are a good team but Manchester City are unbelievable, they've had eight days to recover from a heavy schedule, so we are expecting City to get off to a good start so hopefully Leicester can hold on.
"We won't expect anything but all we can do is take it down to the last game. We've done that so we'll look forward to next Sunday.
"It will be a great occasion regardless but first of all Tuesday [against Barcelona], a hell of a task but if we can get a wee bit of luck then hopefully we will progress."
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Jürgen Klopp highlighted the perseverance and mentality of his players after Liverpool recorded a late 3-2 victory over Newcastle United at St James’ Park to keep their Premier League ambitions alive.
The Reds had twice led in the north east through first-half efforts from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah; however, they were pegged back on each occasion via Christian Atsu and Salomon Rondon.
The visitors then lost Salah to a head injury midway through the second period and the contest appeared to be heading for a draw, until two substitutes combined to secure a vital three points when Divock Origi headed in Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick.
The result means Liverpool return to the top of the Premier League table and, regardless of the outcome of Manchester City’s clash with Leicester City on Monday night, the title race will go down to the final day of the season.
Read on for a summary of the manager’s post-match press conference from St James’ Park…
On his reaction to the game and the result…
There is a lot to talk about; we could talk about football tonight, we could talk purely about showing real heart, showing real passion and showing real desire. It was just brilliant. Newcastle showed it as well, unbelievable - they gave us a proper game. I think in our situation with all the circumstances around, some people probably expected us to show a bit of nerves and the boys didn’t. It was just a difficult game for difficult reasons.
Of course, playing three days ago it was most intense, running-wise we had the highest number of kilometres in Barcelona and then three days later we come to Newcastle and this is obviously not a friendly game tonight. The style of play of Newcastle is not really to defend with tactical moves, it is just a long ball, Rondon is fighting for it and then you wait for the decision of the ref, foul or no foul. If it’s no foul you have to carry on and if it is a foul, it is a free-kick in either direction. That means you cannot do it with a proper formation, you have to do it with legs, with runs and stuff like that – and that makes it even more intense, that’s why it makes sense to keep the ball. That’s what we tried a lot of times, we did it really well in a lot of moments.
I liked the body language, always when we passed the ball around, but around the first goal it was not that good because you keep the ball, but not for keeping it but for creating a situation or a gap or a passing option. In that moment, all of a sudden because the intention was not right, we were under a bit of pressure. We played a not-so-good pass to Ali, a long ball, it comes back, 1-1. I liked the reaction of the boys, I didn’t see any major concerns apart from we conceded a goal, which is not cool.
Our goals were wonderful. The first goal, Pete Krawietz and Greg and James, our analysts, what they do around set-pieces is unbelievable. It is really nice to see. Having Virgil van Dijk completely free in the box is pretty rare, it was a wonderful routine. We scored a second one, nice cross again from Trent and Mo is there. But then they scored their goal and then it is not too long to go anymore, we have to sub Mo, not cool. We have fresh players on the bench, try to have an impact – and they had [an impact]. It was a wonderful free-kick from Shaq and sensational header from Divock and we win the game. We are now qualified for the league final, which is brilliant.
On another vital late strike from Divock Origi…
So crucial. What can I say? It is just brilliant, it is like a fairy-tale. You can say whatever you want about me – they don’t play often enough, Shaqiri not often enough. I make this decision. It is great that they do it, I love it. That was really a big moment.
On whether he was concerned at one point everything seemed to be going against Liverpool…
No. I would have been happy if it was still 2-2 and I saw the injury time, but in that moment we were 3-2 up and I saw the injury time so it was the other way around. Eight minutes… wow! We had a lot of time to play and a lot of time to defend!
I accepted long ago that we do everything, absolutely everything, the boys throw whatever they have on the pitch, so that means whether we are champion or not, it is destiny. We do everything and we cannot do more - can you get more than 94 points? Can you get more in all the other stuff? Not really. The boys tried everything, even in the draws, they tried everything to win the games. It is all good. We tried to have influence, so it was clear it didn’t happen for a while with set-pieces, that’s true. We didn’t have them, so in this moment we had one and we used. I really think it was deserved. Yes, they came a bit up after 2-2, it is normal. [Newcastle] had no game three days ago, we had a game, so it’s absolutely normal. I really loved how calm the boys still were. The calmness was always interrupted by a long ball for Rondon and then it’s chaos! The ball coming down, you have to collect it or not. On the other side, how many quick re-starts did we have with Robbo on the left side? It is just incredible. When Ali had the ball and threw it there, nobody reacted as quickly as Robbo and Ali. Wow, what a race, what a game that was.
The boys showed in each second they really wanted to win it. We knew what we had to do and the boys did it in a very difficult game. Credit to Newcastle, that was, wow... any people who doubt or whatever that teams don’t play for anything anymore, or maybe a halfway on the beach already, they were really the opposite. Is there any history between Newcastle and Liverpool that I don’t know about? The atmosphere was like there was something that happened in the past. The boys, again, were ready to face it, ready to deal with it and that’s brilliant.
Roberto Firmino will miss Tuesday’s game against Barcelona at Anfield but could return for Liverpool’s final Premier League match of the season versus Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The No.9 was absent from the Reds’ squad for Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Newcastle United due to the muscular injury he sustained in training last week.
During his post-match press conference at St James’ Park, Jürgen Klopp confirmed that Firmino won’t be fit for the Champions League semi-final second leg.
“He will not be ready for Tuesday and the rest we will see,” said the boss.
Liverpool must wait to discover the extent of the injury Mohamed Salah sustained during Liverpool's 3-2 win over Newcastle United.
Salah was stretchered off midway through the second half of Saturday's game at St James' Park following a collision with Martin Dubravka.
Speaking post-match, Jürgen Klopp said: "What I heard, he got the hip of the goalie on his head.
"He was then on the ground and the doc had to make a decision 'on the pitch or off the pitch', and the decision was off the pitch. We accept that of course.
"When he came in he was sitting in the dressing room watching the game on television. So he was then fine, but of course we have to wait. He got a proper knock, obviously, in that situation."
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Liverpool make four changes for this evening’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United.
Daniel Sturridge is restored to the starting line-up and leads the line at St James’ Park, while Jordan Henderson returns in midfield.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren begin in defence, with Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Naby Keita and James Milner the players making way from the midweek clash in Barcelona.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back on the substitutes’ bench, but Roberto Firmino misses out following a slight muscle strain sustained recently.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Mane, Salah, Sturridge.
Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Origi, Matip.
Liverpool U18s finished their league campaign in second place on goal difference after a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.
The young Reds created a number of opportunities throughout the tie at the Academy but looked to be heading for their first goalless stalemate of the season in their final competitive game.
But substitute Fidel O’Rourke provided the breakthrough in the 87th minute by tucking home from close range, leaving Liverpool level on points with Derby County but behind on goal difference.
Barry Lewtas’ side had kicked off in Kirkby knowing they could still technically become U18 Premier League North champions, though victory by a 10-goal margin was required to leapfrog Derby at the summit.
That kind of result always seemed unrealistic, yet the home side created enough chances to have gotten halfway to the target in the opening 20 minutes.
A clever, unselfish flick by Paul Glatzel inside the area from Jake Cain’s pass teed up the first real chance – Abdi Sharif the man with the shot that curled off target to the left of goal.
Within a minute, Sharif had got into space in the right channel and fizzed in a cross that reached left-back Yasser Larouci on the opposite flank, only for his blast to sail out too.
The game was still only 11 minutes old when Liverpool fashioned another promising chance, Cain’s deep corner finding Morgan Boyes, who couldn’t nod the ball in at the back post.
Bobby Duncan was unable to control Leighton Clarkson’s precise pass over the top of the Boro defence for what would have been a one-on-one, and Larouci was unlucky with a lofted effort from the angle.
Somehow, it remained goalless, allowing the visitors to find a foothold in the match.
Daniel Dodds made troublesome inroads with a dribble from right-back on 25 minutes, jinking past Larouci into shooting space at the edge of the Liverpool area and seeing a low hit collected easily by Vitezslav Jaros.
Still, the Reds might have broken the deadlock before the break; Sharif snuck into an unmarked position to meet a cross from the left with a header back across goal that carried the wrong side of the post.
Middlesbrough improved further in the early stages of the second half, though Liverpool substitute Elijah Dixon-Bonner – on for the injured Clarkson – drove a shot just wide from 20 yards.
But Boyes had to make a vital block to deny a dangerous strike by Alberto Balde and Jaros carefully pushed away Hayden Hackney’s free-kick sent around the near side of the defensive wall.
The impressive Neco Williams fired a diagonal drive just wide after a surge into space down the right and the prolific Glatzel swept an attempt wide having barged into the box.
But there was still time for a winner to seal an outstanding season for Lewtas’ side.
Luis Longstaff could not control Glatzel’s penetrating cross for a finish of his own, so rolled the ball to the nearby O’Rourke to clinically dispatch into the net for a successful end to the U18 Premier League North campaign for the runners-up.
Liverpool U18s: Jaros, N. Williams, Larouci, R. Williams, Boyes, Clarkson (Dixon-Bonner, 46), Sharif (Longstaff, 74), Bearne, Glatzel, Duncan (O’Rourke, 58), Cain.
Unused substitutes: Savage, Winterbottom.
Liverpool have been dealt a blow with the news Naby Keita will be sidelined for at least two months with an adductor injury sustained against Barcelona.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to come into the matchday squad for the trip to Newcastle.
On Roberto Firmino's availability for this game, Jürgen Klopp said: "We will see."
Newcastle are boosted by the return of top scorer Ayoze Perez and defender Jamaal Lascelles is also in contention again.
DeAndre Yedlin is likely to miss out due to a groin injury.
Liverpool FC Foundation headed Stateside this week to deliver its Premier League Primary Stars programme to hundreds of youngsters in Boston.
The club’s official charity teamed up with the Premier League, Cardiff City and EverFi educational technology company to visit a variety of local schools and community programmes across the city.
Sessions included digital education exercises and class discussions from PLPS materials, followed by hands-on soccer sessions and assemblies highlighting the importance of education and its relation to the game of football.
Premier League Primary Stars uses the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs to inspire children to learn, be active and develop important life skills.
Available to every primary school in England and Wales, it inspires girls and boys aged from five to 11 in the classroom, the playground and on the sports field.
A bespoke Premier League Primary Stars USA programme has been created with EverFi around these resources and currently engages 12,000 elementary schoolchildren in America.
David McParland, LFC Foundation project lead, said: “It’s been a fantastic week out here in the US and we’re so pleased to have the opportunity to share our Primary Stars programme with our friends in Boston.
“We’ve met some brilliant youngsters who have really taken on board the messages we deliver, which we hope will have a positive impact on both their mental and physical wellbeing going forward.
“We’re really looking forward to getting back out here in July on the club’s pre-season tour and reaching even more of the local community.”
Guild Elementary School in East Boston was first on the agenda, where 340 students spent the morning enjoying dodgeball and resilience sessions, classroom workshops on hydration and nutrition, and a PE lesson focused on the importance of staying physically active.
Next up, 920 pupils from nearby Unama Academy School took part in a full day of clinics, which included similar areas of focus as well as positive thoughts workshops – covering healthy and unhelpful thinking – and a classroom session on fair play.
To round off the week, 120 local youngsters headed to Carter Field, the home of South End Soccer Club – a local team committed to providing Boston’s urban youth with the opportunity to play football regardless of their experience or economic means.
The group engaged with LFC Foundation and Cardiff City coaches on health and wellness and best practices, before taking part in a short competitive match.
LFC Foundation representatives were also invited to meet with Charlie Baker, governor of the commonwealth of MA, and Martin J. Walsh, mayor of the city of Boston, as part of their visit.
Coaches provided an overview of the PLPS programme and the investment being made in the greater Boston community, as well as discussing how the initiative can support education both in the city and across Massachusetts.
For more information on the Premier League Primary Stars programme, click here.
Mohamed Salah's unstoppable strike against Chelsea has been voted Liverpool's Goal of the Month for April.
The Egyptian’s thunderbolt in the second half of the 2-0 victory at Anfield was a landslide winner in our poll on Liverpoolfc.com.
His crucial counter-attack goal at Southampton also took second place in the vote, while Georginio Wijnaldum’s clinical opener against Cardiff City finished third.
Salah’s deft lob in the home rout of Huddersfield Town was fourth and Liverpool FC Women striker Rinsola Babajide claimed fifth spot with her fine effort against Bristol City Women.
Watch the top five above.
Virgil van Dijk feels 'anything is possible' if Liverpool achieve their objective of 97 points at the end of the Premier League season.
Heading into the penultimate round of matches this weekend, the Reds trail reigning champions Manchester City by a single point.
Jürgen Klopp’s side travel to Newcastle United on Saturday night knowing victory at St. James’ Park would put pressure on City for their Monday evening clash with Leicester City.
Van Dijk insists Liverpool cannot let events elsewhere enter their thinking, which, he says, has to remain on the target of two more wins to sign off the campaign.
“Anything is still possible,” the centre-back told Premier League Productions.
“We have two games left; we’ll try everything we can to win both games – that’s the only thing we can focus on and if anything changes with Man City, it will be fantastic for us. If not, we end the season hopefully with 97 points and we did everything we could.”
Last Sunday, Van Dijk was named the 2018-19 PFA Players’ Player of the Year in recognition of his outstanding consistency in the middle of Liverpool’s defence – the meanest in the Premier League with only 20 goals conceded.
“It has been [a special season], I’m enjoying every bit of it. I’m fit and I’ve played almost every game of the season, apart from the last 30 minutes against Southampton at home,” added the No.4.
“It has been fantastic for all of us, we’ve been enjoying every bit of it and hopefully we can continue that.”
Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle boast a formidable recent record at St. James’ Park.
The Magpies have won six of their last seven Premier League home matches during a run that has lifted them comfortably clear of the relegation zone.
But Van Dijk believes Liverpool can approach the encounter with their confidence undiminished by the final result in Barcelona on Wednesday night.
“It’s going to be a very tough game. They are in good form right now, they must be feeling great, and they have had some time to prepare for us as well, so it’s going to be tough,” he said.
“But we have been playing very well lately; the defeat in Barcelona is something that doesn’t sum our form up. We go in there full of confidence still and wanting to win the game.”
Liverpool U18s host Middlesbrough in their final game of 2018-19 at the Academy on Saturday - and you can watch the match live on LFCTV GO from 12.25pm BST.
The U18 Premier League North fixture kicks off at 12.30pm and you can see all of the action as it happens with us.
Michael Owen scored a first-half hat-trick as Liverpool beat Newcastle United 4-1 at St. James' Park in August 1998, but can you remember the full starting XI for that Premier League clash?
The swashbuckling Reds were ahead on Tyneside after just 17 minutes when Owen pounced to squeeze a shot inside the near post after goalkeeper Shay Given had punched a 25-yard drive from LFC's No.17 that day out to the left of his goal.
Owen - the star of England's World Cup campaign at France '98 just a few months earlier - doubled the lead a minute later by calmly slotting through the legs of Given after collecting a clever through ball from Steve McManaman.
Newcastle, who had lost future Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann to injury early in the match, struck back through Stephane Guivarc'h but Toon hopes were dashed just four minutes later as Owen completed his hat-trick.
The LFC No.10, now brimming with confidence, was sent clear by German strike partner Karl-Heinz Riedle, rode a challenge from Magpies defender Philippe Albert and flicked a chipped finish with the outside of his right boot over Given and into the top corner.
The game was all but over on the stroke of half-time when the Reds' No.15 dispossessed Toon full-back Laurent Charvet, drove forward and thundered a shot inside the far post to put the visitors 4-1 up.
Newcastle made a fight of it after the break, but Liverpool had already done enough to win the game and go top of the Premier League.
Owen's 15-minute treble took the headlines that day, but who else made up the first XI? Can you fill in the Missing Men below?
Click the Next button below to reveal the Missing Men...
Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool travel to Newcastle United for their final Premier League away fixture of the season on the brink of equalling two club records.
Victory for the title challengers at St. James' Park would be their 13th away win in the league this season - matching a milestone that has stood since 1904-05, when Tom Watson's Reds notched 13 in the Second Division.
Klopp's side have conceded just 10 goals away from home in the league this term and a clean sheet at Newcastle would ensure they equal the club record for fewest away goals conceded - set under Bob Paisley during the 1975-76 campaign.
For more need-to-know pre-match facts and figures, courtesy of club statistician Ged Rea, read on...
Liverpool have scored 95 goals against Newcastle United in the Premier League - more than against any other team.
Thirty-seven of those have come at St. James' Park - a tally equalled only by visits to Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
There has not been a goalless draw in any of the last 65 league fixtures between the teams - a run dating back to February 1974 and a fixture at St. James' Park.
Liverpool have won 26 and lost 11 of the 47 Premier League meetings between the sides.
They have found the net in 20 of the last 23 meetings home and away in league encounters.
Liverpool's biggest ever win on Tyneside came in April 2013 when they won 6-0 with Jordan Henderson (two) and Daniel Sturridge (two) among the scorers - the pair are the only players that remain at Anfield from that day.
Sturridge has scored seven goals against the Magpies in his league career, with five coming at St. James' Park. For the Reds he has scored five in seven appearances home and away.
In the 10 previous league games immediately following Champions League fixtures this season Liverpool are unbeaten, having won eight and drawn two. They have conceded only three times, scoring 19 goals.
Three of those games have come away from home, with the Reds recording two wins and a draw.
Wins in their final two Premier League games - at Newcastle and at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers - would see Liverpool equal the club record of 30 league victories in a single season.
Rafael Benitez's Magpies have won five of their last six home games. That sequence includes a win over Manchester City when they came back from conceding a goal after just 24 seconds, and victory over Everton when they won 3-2 after trailing by two at half-time.
Premier League 2018-19 Premier League 2018-19
"It ain't where you from, it's where you at," reads the epigraph at the beginning of Raphael Honigstein's Jürgen Klopp biography 'Klopp: Bring The Noise'.
It’s a lyric from the Eric B. & Rakim song In The Ghetto, released on May 4, 1990, the day before the 1989-90 season came to an end with Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool as champions. But the sentiment probably feels very pertinent for Reds fans 29 years later.
Roughly three-and-a-half years on from the day when Klopp took charge of a side sat 10th in the Premier League, Liverpool have amassed 91 points - their highest-ever tally - with two matches still to play this season.
“I’m astonished, personally, that Liverpool have been this consistent,” Honigstein, a journalist for ESPN and Der Spiegel amongst others, tells Liverpoolfc.com.
“I didn’t think they were quite ready to do it. The irony is that Manchester City have just been a machine, and Liverpool reaching 97 points might not be enough. But the good news is that Liverpool look set to be competitive for years to come.
“I don’t think Jürgen is bluffing when he says he’s just enjoying the fact that Liverpool can now compete for these titles. They can go into the season thinking: ‘We can win the league, we can win the Champions League.’
“From a Liverpool perspective it would be the league [you would want to win most], but if you’re a manager and you were never really a great player, only really playing in Bundesliga 2, to one day lift the European Cup is the ultimate dream. That is not something anyone would have thought [was] a realistic possibility when he took over in October 2015, so in less than four years they’ve come a long, long way.
“That’s what I think, but of course Jürgen is also motivated by the people around him and by making people happy, so he understands just how much it would mean if Liverpool were to win the league. I think he would take either in a heartbeat, but it’s not his choice to make unfortunately.”
Klopp recently said it was ‘rather surprising’ that Liverpool are so close to a City side they finished last season 25 points behind. And Honigstein believes his countryman’s tactical tweaks and ability to extract the very best from individuals are just as significant as scouting and signings when you analyse that accelerated development.
He states: “Klopp has been quite open about the fact Liverpool’s scouting has been brilliant, but he’s also made the likes of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold into top performers and got a lot out of the bigger names as well.
“I think that’s absolutely instrumental in Liverpool’s success in the last few years, because you only have to look at other clubs to see that buying player after player and throwing loads of money at the problem is not, in itself, necessarily a way of improving things.
“I think it’s a process, that’s how him and his coaching team have seen this from the beginning, they’ve had to learn and draw the right conclusions from every season.
“Tactically the difference isn’t all that big, it’s just that the team functions so much better. They are able now to control games and can create openings without having to rely on that sense of chaos they once had, where they would become quite erratic and open.
“They can eke out wins in a very controlled fashion, which is the sign of a real top team.”
No title race in any of Europe’s other major leagues has been quite as entertaining, unforgiving and consistently high in quality as the battle for the Premier League this season.
The only one that comes close is the Bundesliga, where Klopp’s former employers Borussia Dortmund are the only potential impediment to Bayern Munich scooping a seventh straight title.
Ironically, though, Germany is one of the nations where the duel between Liverpool and City is being followed most avidly, and it is all down to the involvement of Glatten’s most famous son.
“The level of interest is big, probably the biggest it has been since Michael Ballack was in the Premier League,” Honigstein explains.
“It’s because Jürgen is such a significant figure in German football. He’s the one guy that, right now, whatever club allegiance you have, you would probably still have a sense that Jürgen Klopp is a nice guy, or at least very competent.
“And there aren’t many German sportspeople with that kind of international profile; he’s getting to a [former NBA star] Dirk Nowitzki level of ‘German guy abroad doing really well’. The combination of that with Liverpool, who for historic reasons have a large amount of German people interested in them and looking out for their results, just makes it very powerful.”
Klopp’s Liverpool, of course, eliminated Bayern from this season’s Champions League at the last-16 stage, prevailing 3-1 on aggregate thanks to Sadio Mane’s glorious double and Virgil van Dijk’s towering header at the Allianz Arena back in March.
“In Germany - as is often the case because Bayern are such a big club - it was seen through the prism of Bayern losing rather than Liverpool winning,” Honigstein considers.
“Niko Kovac’s ultra-defensive line-up in the first leg was meant to keep Bayern in the tie, but it didn’t play to Bayern’s strengths, and the players were critical of the tactics, as were some people on the board.
“The impression is that Bayern kind of defeated themselves by A) being too negative at Anfield, and B) not playing with full conviction at home. Liverpool were seen as very efficient and savvy and street-smart, great up front, but weren’t perceived as this outstanding team. My guess is they didn’t have to be on the night, they were just waiting for Bayern to make a mistake, and then they pounced.”
Added German interest also stems from the presence of Roberto Firmino, Joel Matip, Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita - formerly of Hoffenheim, Schalke, Bayern and RB Leipzig respectively - on Merseyside.
“Matip is one of the surprise performers this year, and Firmino is just outstanding,” Honigstein continues. “I didn’t quite think he’d have the kind of consistency and application and hunger that he’s shown. At Hoffenheim he was a different player and could be very in and out in the No.10 role, but I think his journey, if you will, has been absolutely amazing.
“At his best at Leipzig, Keita would do everything. He would win the ball, run past a couple of players then play the killer ball, or run past more players and score.”
Published in 2017, Bring The Noise traces Klopp’s story from his childhood in the Black Forest to the present day, touching on the Swabian’s playing days as a barnstorming centre-forward and his coaching success at Mainz 05 and Dortmund.
But with hindsight, the episode that perhaps speaks to the current situation most is the 2011-12 campaign, when a BVB side underpinned by a particularly strong defence secured a domestic double, breaking Bundesliga records for points and wins along the way.
“There are parallels,” Honigstein, who regularly appears as the resident German football analyst on BT Sport Score, reflects.
“Klopp has always done pretty well in his third full season, and this is his third full season at Liverpool. I think that’s just a natural progress that you would expect from someone who knows what he’s doing, that year by year he would get a little bit better.
“But the situation in the Bundesliga then was very different to the one you have now in the Premier League. There’s so little margin for error. Whenever Liverpool have had a big setback I’ve thought, ‘OK, that’s it.’ But it hasn’t really happened, and that seems to be one of Klopp’s biggest qualities, that he can really forget defeats and not let them have a negative impact.”
Regardless how all of this season’s storylines conclude, Honigstein foresees some prosperous years in store at Anfield, with Klopp firmly ensconced at the helm.
“I don’t think he will be tempted by any jobs, he’s not the type that will start flirting with other clubs - that’s not him. My sense is that he feels this process is still a good few years away from really coming to fruition,” he finishes.
“I don’t see him leaving, I don’t see the club wanting to make a change, I can easily see him there for another five or six years if things continue in this vein. I’m not sure he has long-term goals, or if he has he doesn’t admit to them.
“First of all, he’s really focused on getting this job right, and making sure that he does deliver for Liverpool.”
Liverpool must check on Roberto Firmino's fitness ahead of Saturday's Premier League meeting with Newcastle United at St. James' Park.
The No.9 was a second-half substitute in the Champions League clash with Barcelona in midweek after recovering from a muscle tear.
Asked for an update on Firmino at his pre-Newcastle press conference on Friday, Jürgen Klopp said: “We will see.”
The Reds will definitely be without midfielder Naby Keita for the trip to the north east, however.
He has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with an adductor injury sustained in the early stages of Wednesday night’s game at Camp Nou.
“He was in a really good moment - a really, really good moment - but it happened, that’s how football and life sometimes are. It’s not too nice, but it’s very serious,” said Klopp.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made his first-team return in the last Premier League fixture against Huddersfield Town, is likely to come into the squad in Keita’s absence.
“It’s perfect that he’s back,” said the manager regarding the possibility of an opportunity opening up for the England international.
“We will see. It’s very good that Ox is there and he will be for sure in the squad. Then we have to make a decision who starts.”
For Newcastle, Ayoze Perez - the club’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with 11 goals - is ‘fine’ after being forced off with an injury 33 minutes into the 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.
Jamaal Lascelles is back in contention, too, but DeAndre Yedlin (groin) is a doubt for the Magpies, for whom this fixture is the final one at home this term.
“We are professional and have to do our job,” said former Reds boss Rafael Benitez at his pre-match preview.
“My relationship with the city of Liverpool, the club and the fans is there. At the same time, I have been to play Liverpool with Chelsea, with Newcastle, and we have to do our job.
“We have 52,000 in our stadium and it is the last home game of the season. Everyone understands we are professionals - for everyone here, we want to win the game.”
Last time out
Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Newcastle (April 27): Dubravka, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Manquillo, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Perez, Atsu, Rondon.
Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool (May 1): Alisson, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Keita, Mane, Salah, Wijnaldum.
Mohamed Salah has been shortlisted for the PFA Fans' Player of the Month award - and you can vote for him to win it now.
The No.11 struck four goals in as many Premier League appearances during April to help maintain the Reds' title tilt.
Salah faces competition from Lucas Digne, Ayoze Perez, Sergio Rico, Jamie Vardy and Bernardo Silva for the prize.
Cast a vote for the Egyptian to win by clicking here.
Liverpool and Manchester City have seen their hopes of landing wonderkid Samuel Chukwueze boosted, after the 19-year-old revealed his desire to play in England.
The two sides are set to vie for the Premier League title right up until the final day, but Sportsmail understands the duo will also likely be at loggerheads to sign the 19-year-old winger who has scored eight goals across all competitions for Villarreal this term.
Chukwueze has been tracked by both Premier League clubs keen on boosting their array of attacking talent.
Source: Click here to read more of this story on MailOnline
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