The Reds couldn't convert their chances and were dumped from the Champions League as a result
James Milner said Liverpool were "obviously the better team" on Wednesday despite their 0-0 draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final, which sent them out of the competition through a 3-1 aggregate scoreline.
Searching for positives from the disappointing result, the veteran midfielder claimed similar efforts would help the Reds claim a top-four spot in the Premier League, as "the intensity and desire was good".
But Milner also stressed that Liverpool can't continue to waste their chances in front of net as they did against Real Madrid.Editors' Picks What has been said?
"We were obviously the better team," Milner said to BT Sport. "We did enough to win the game.
"The performance, intensity and desire was good. But you can't not take the chances we had and that was the difference.
"The positive is we are creating the chances and the reaction we showed.
"We wanted to come out of the blocks and set that tempo. If we had played that first leg with the same intensity it would have been very different. Ultimately we weren't good enough over two games.
"The most important thing is if we perform with the desire and intensity hopefully we can get into those top four spots."Bigger picture
Being eliminated from the Champions League - and previously getting bounced from the FA Cup - will certainly alleviate fixture congestion, but it will also drive up the pressure for the remainder of the domestic slate.
The Reds have a Premier League schedule that at least on paper is favourable, with Manchester United and Leeds the only top-half sides left to play.
They've slipped up against teams they were odds on to beat throughout the season, however, and must respond well to the intensity of a tight race for the top four.Further reading
The Reds were unable to turn around the two-goal deficit from their first-leg defeat against Real Madrid as they played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield
In the end it was a bridge too far, even for Liverpool.
There was to be no Anfield miracle for Jurgen Klopp’s men. For the second season running they exit the Champions League at the hands of a team from Madrid, having failed to overturn a first-leg deficit on home soil.Editors' Picks
For Atletico 2020, read Real 2021.
Liverpool huffed and they puffed, but they simply could not blow the house down. It finished 0-0 on the night, the Reds eliminated courtesy of that costly 3-1 defeat in the Spanish capital eight days ago.
That was where the damage was done. How Klopp will regret the way his side started that game; passive, nervous, disorganised. How he will rue the way, having clawed their way back into the tie through Mohamed Salah’s away goal, they ceded control so quickly.
A 2-1 loss was manageable, but 3-1 was a killer, especially with no 12th man to roar them on back at Anfield.
So it proved, with Real able to withstand the inevitable second-leg onslaught, and Liverpool unable to convert dominance into goals.
They had a right go, at least. Their performance was levels above the one we saw in Madrid – although it had to be, in all fairness. Klopp could not fault his players’ effort, their belief or their heart.
Their finishing, though? That's another matter entirely.
The chances came, especially in the first half, but none were taken. Goals have been at a premium at Anfield of late, and they could not find one here, let alone two.
Their finishing was poor, with Salah and Gini Wijnaldum guilty of bad misses before the break. Wijnaldum, in particular, will have nightmares about his.
Salah drew a save from Thibaut Courtois inside the opening three minutes when he might have done better, and the former Chelsea goalkeeper was at his very best soon after, saving at full-stretch from James Milner, whose 25-yarder appeared destined for the top corner.
Liverpool’s desire was there, their pressing sharp and their aggression clear. Milner, selected surprisingly ahead of Thiago Alcantara in midfield, set the tone in the opening seconds, smashing into Karim Benzema firmly but fairly. Message sent.
Real struggled at times during the opening 45 minutes, unnerved by Liverpool’s tempo. Even the brilliant Toni Kroos found his radar off, although Benzema saw a cross-shot deflected against the post after a rare foray forward.
When the half-time whistle blew, the tie was still there, although you suspected Klopp’s team would regret their misses, that they had had their chance and blown it.
So it proved. Liverpool continued to probe and pushed after the interval, but nothing came off.
Courtois saved well from Roberto Firmino, Salah took too long in the penalty area. Diogo Jota, sent on as a substitute with Thiago, saw a shot deflected into the side-netting, while the outstanding Eder Militao, Sergio Ramos’ deputy, blocked from Firmino.
Liverpool kept going, but the jig was up long before the final blast of referee Bjorn Kuipers’ whistle.
It was up, really, before they had left Madrid.
The Liga side's coach was attacked with projectiles ahead of the game, breaking several windows
Liverpool have condemned an attack on Real Madrid's team bus prior to the teams' Champions League tie at Anfield on Wednesday night.
Several eyewitnesses stated the Madrid coach was attacked with rocks and other projectiles, with video showing the bus had sustained a broken window.
Ahead of the quarter-final second leg, the Reds vowed to identify those responsible for the damage.Editors' Picks What was said?
"We condemn unequivocally the actions that led to Real Madrid’s team bus being damaged during its arrival to Anfield this evening," a Liverpool spokesperson said.
"It is totally unacceptable and shameful behaviour of a few individuals.
"We sincerely apologise to our visitors for any distress caused. We will work together with Merseyside Police to establish the facts and identify those responsible.”April 14, 2021Has this happened before?
Unfortunately for Liverpool, Wednesday was not the first time that an opposing team's bus was targeted outside of Anfield.
Manchester City saw their bus attacked ahead of a Champions League quarter-final in April 2018, with the Reds again forced to apologise after the incident.
"We apologise unreservedly to Pep Guardiola, his players, staff and officials caught up in the incident," Liverpool said after that attack.
"The behaviour of a number of individuals was completely unacceptable and the club will cooperate fully with the authorities to identify those responsible."Further reading
The German tactician says the Reds cannot afford to give the Blancos an inch in the second leg tie at Anfield
Jurgen Klopp has pinpointed what Liverpool must do to beat Real Madrid and reach the Champions League semi-finals.
Liverpool were dealt a major setback in their pursuit of a seventh European Cup after being beaten 3-1 by Madrid in the first leg of their last eight tie last week.
A brace from Vinicius Junior and a Marco Asensio strike gave the Blancos a healthy lead to take to Anfield, but Mohamed Salah grabbed an all-important away goal for the Reds, and Klopp is still hopeful that his side can stage a comeback.Editors' Picks What's been said?
However, the German tactician says Liverpool cannot afford to give Madrid an inch if they are to make it through, having seen how clinical they can be in the final third when any kind of opportunity arrives.
"To beat Real Madrid you have to defend at your absolute highest level because their offensive qualities are incredible and even then it’s really difficult," Klopp told a pre-match press conference.
"The first goal they scored is a good example of it; for most of the teams in the world, it was not even half a chance, but the pass from Toni Kroos and the first touch and the finish was absolutely incredible.
"So even when you defend well and deny them a lot of things, these things are still possible. For the next two goals, our percentage of involvement was too high, definitely.
"So, we have to defend at a really high level and we have to create ourselves – and that’s what we will try. I cannot invent any new things just because we are 3-1 down, we will use the usual tools of football – or will try at least."Liverpool's most famous Champions League comebacks
Liverpool are no strangers to performing miracles on the continental stage, having been regulars in the Champions League knockout stages since Gerard Houllier's tenure in the early 2000s.
Rafa Benitez was in charge when the Reds needed to score three in their final group stage match in 2004-05, with Steven Gerrard proving to be the hero as they secured a dramatic last gasp 3-1 victory over Olympiacos at Anfield.
Liverpool went on to make it through to the final in Istanbul, and staged one of the most remarkable turnarounds in football history after going 3-0 down to Milan in the first half, bringing the scores level by the end of normal time before ultimately winning on penalties.
The Merseyside outfit's most recent comeback came during their triumphant 2018-19 campaign, as they bounced back from 3-0 first-leg defeat to Barcelona at Camp Nou by beating the Spanish giants 4-0 at Anfield to qualify for the final - which they won 2-1 against Tottenham.Further reading
The Toffees have suffered plenty of fitness setbacks this season, just like their neighbours, but they are not looking to make excuses
Everton captain Seamus Coleman insists the the Toffees "don't want to be harping on about injuries, there's plenty of other teams doing that", in the wake of clubs such as Liverpool having encountered fitness troubles this season.
Carlo Ancelotti's side have suffered plenty of fitness setbacks this season, just as their neighbours from across Stanley Park have done.
A string of untimely knocks at Anfield have been blamed for Jurgen Klopp's side surrendering their grip on the Premier League title, but those at Goodison Park are not looking for excuses in an ongoing bid to secure European qualification.Editors' Picks What has been said?
"Unfortunately for us, we’ve missed quite a few lads through injury but, as the manager touched on beforehand, he never complains about the players who are out. It’s about the players who are playing.
"Saying that, we’re six points off fifth with a game in hand. We’ve got Tottenham at home coming up and we’ve got something to play for between now and the end of the season."Was that a veiled dig at Liverpool?
Coleman was asked by Reds legend Jamie Carragher whether he had Liverpool in mind when making his injury quip, with the defender quick to bat away such talk.
He said: “No, that might be in your head, Jamie.”
There is, however, no escaping the fact that fitness issues at Anfield have dominated headlines this season, to the point that rivals may be growing a little tired of hearing about them.The bigger picture
Everton cannot afford to waste any energy concerning themselves with events at Liverpool, with focus on the blue half of Merseyside locked on a final eight-game sprint past the finishing post.
Ancelotti will hope to be as close to full strength as he can be for the vast majority of those fixtures, but he does have a number of senior stars in the treatment room at present.
Abdoulaye Doucoure has starred on the back of a big-money move from Watford, but is now nursing a foot fracture, while no return dates have been set for Fabian Delph, Yerry Mina, Josh King and Jean-Philppe Gbamin.
Jordan Pickford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Allan and Andre Gomes have also suffered setbacks of late, forcing them to sit out the stalemate at Brighton, but the Toffees are hoping to have that quartet back for a home date with Spurs on Friday.Further reading
Here's what you need to know about the top scorers in this year's competition, with candidates from Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and Juventus
The eagerly-anticipated knockout phase of the 2020-21 Champions League has begun, as the road to the final looms nearer.
Goal will keep you updated on the individual goal tallies for the highest-scoring Champions League players this season.Champions League 2020-21 Top Scorers
Wonderkid Erling Haaland leads the pack with 10 goals, while Neymar and Olivier Giroud are on six goals.Editors' Picks
Robert Lewandowski continues to chip in for Bayern Munich with five goals, a tally also reached by Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe scored four goals across two games against Barcelona in the last 16 (including a hat-trick in the first leg), meaning he is on six strikes.
*Correct as of games played on April 13, 2021Pos Player Club Goals 1 Erling Haaland Borussia Dortmund 10 2 Kylian Mbappe PSG 8 =3 Youssef En-Nesyri Sevilla 6 =3 Neymar PSG 6 =3 Marcus Rashford Manchester United 6 =3 Alvaro Morata Juventus 6 =3 Mohamed Salah Liverpool 6 =3 Olivier Giroud Chelsea 6 =9 Ciro Immobile Lazio 5 =9 Karim Benzema Real Madrid 5 =9 Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich 5 =9 Alassane Plea Borussia Monchengladbach 5 =9 Lionel Messi Barcelona 5 =9 Sergio Oliveira Porto 5 =15 Mergim Berisha RB Salzburg 4 =15 Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus 4 =15 Ferran Torres Manchester City 4 =15 Diogo Jota Liverpool 4 =15 Romelu Lukaku Inter 4 =15 Bruno Fernandes Manchester United 4 =15 Federico Chiesa Juventus 4 =15 Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting Bayern 4 Who finished top in 2019-20?
Robert Lewandowski was the top-scorer in last season's Champions League, his 15 strikes instrumental in Bayern Munich winning the competition.
The German giants picked up their sixth Champions League trophy after beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the final of the tournament, with Kingsley Coman netting the winning goal early in the second half.
He was followed by Haaland with 10 strikes for both RB Salzburg and Dortmund, and Bayern team-mate Serge Gnabry's nine strikes placing him third.
Barcelona may have lost the Clasico at the weekend, but they moved above Real Madrid in the money stakes
Barcelona have climbed above Liga rivals Real Madrid to top Forbes’ Football Rich List.
Real topped the rankings two years ago, the last time the list was published, but find themselves staring up at Barca who have a valuation of $4.76 billion (£3.46bn).
The Premier League makes up the bulk of the top 10, with Manchester, United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all featuring.Editors' Picks What has been said?
Forbes’ Mike Ozanian compiled the list and said the average worth is up 30 per cent from two years ago, but there is pain being absorbed due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting matchday revenue.
“The world’s 20 most valuable soccer teams are worth an average of $2.28 billion (£1.66bn) apiece, an increase of 30% from two years ago, the last time we published the ranking,” Ozanian said. “The jump comes despite a decline in revenue caused by limited attendance during the pandemic, with buyers focused on what they see as still untapped revenue potential in the sport’s massive global following.
“Average revenue for the 20 teams was $441 million (£321m) for the 2019-20 season, down 9.6% from 2017-18, while average operating income fell by 70% over the period to $23 million (£17m).
"The pain is far from over, with a worsening decline in match-day revenue during the current season as most of the teams in Europe’s top leagues still permit few fans to attend games.”Football’s rich list in numbers
The rankings have been dominated by Manchester United and Real Madrid, with the Red Devils topping Forbes' list on 11 occasions to Real's five. Those two sides showed the lowest two-year change, while French powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain crashed the top 10 in style with a 129% increase in value.
Despite having arguably football's most marketable asset in Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus dropped out of the top 10 - coming in at 11.Rank Team Value 2-year change 1 Barcelona $4.76 billion 18% 2 Real Madrid $4.75 billion 12% 3 Bayern Munich $4.21 billion 39% 4 Man Utd $4.20 billion 10% 5 Liverpool $4.10 billion 88% 6 Man City $4.00 billion 49% 7 Chelsea $3.20 billion 24% 8 Arsenal $2.80 billion 23% 9 Paris Saint Germain $2.50 billion 129% 10 Tottenham $2.30 billion 42% Further reading
The Bundesliga club's new boss has opened up on how he came to work with his fellow German at Borussia Dortmund
New Bayer Leverkusen coach Hannes Wolf has spoken of the positive relationship he has with Jurgen Klopp and the “special time” he had at Borussia Dortmund.
Wolf is treading his own path as a manager, and recently took interim control of Leverkusen.
He has had spells at Stuttgart, Hamburg and Genk, after learning his trade under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.Editors' Picks What has been said?
The 39-year-old Wolf was in charge of regional side ASC 09 Dortmund, but his exploits caught the eye of Klopp, who brought him to the Bundesliga giants in 2009.
“The beginning was a special moment,” Wolf told DAZN. “He heard my story, a young coach being successful in Dortmund.
“I was voted 'Sports Person of the Year' and he was the special guest. We were in the sixth division and I was just 27 years old.
“Of course this is something special that he told me: 'Join us, we want to work with you'. And I had the possibility to go all the way at BVB.
“I was able to train teams on a very high level, I was able to be on the training pitch with him. That was great and a special time for me.
"We are still in contact and everything has remained on a friendly basis.”Wolf’s path to Leverkusen
As a player, Wolf operated as a forward in the regional leagues - with the high point being a couple of seasons with Nurnberg’s second string.
He went into management in his early 20s, with his three years at ASC 09 Dortmund impressing Klopp, who took him to BVB in 2009.
Wolf took charge of various levels in the BVB structure, leading the U17 and U19 teams to national titles.
He left BVB one year after Klopp’s exit to take the reins at Stuttgart in 2016, where he spent two seasons before pitching up at Hamburg. He was axed after failing to lead them back to the top flight in 2019.
A season in Belgium followed with Genk, while he was working with the German federation before being asked to take charge of Leverkusen last month.Further reading
The awarding of the prize was cancelled in 2020 and the world's best players are again making their cases to claim the coveted individual honour
After being cancelled in 2020, the Ballon d'Or is back, with the great and good of the football world again eyeing the biggest individual honour the game has to offer.
Though the prize will not be handed out until December, performances over the coming weeks will go a long way to deciding who will and won't be in contention to succeed 2019 winner Lionel Messi.
With the European season being dominated by surprise title contenders and delayed international tournaments to come this summer, the chances of there being a new winner are high.Editors' Picks
So, by using their performances so far, as well as predictions of what is likely still to come in 2021, who holds the most power in the early stages of this year's race?
Goal ranks the runners and riders...
The Gunners face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the knee injury the Scotland international suffered in the defeat against Liverpool
The look on Kieran Tierney’s face when he limped off the pitch just before half-time against Liverpool said it all.
When a player manages to walk off after an injury, it is normally a reassuring sight, but on this occasion that was not the case at all.
A player usually knows when he has done something serious and Tierney’s devastated reaction to his knee injury spoke volumes.Editors' Picks
He may have managed to get to his feet and trudge off the pitch himself, but Arsenal’s left-back clearly felt he had done something serious while going in for a challenge on James Milner seconds before the interval.
The extent of the problem will become clear in the coming days, but both Arsenal and Scotland will be waiting with bated breath for the results of the scan that will follow.
"Kieran felt something in his knee and he was in pain," Mikel Arteta told reporters after the game. "It looks like he will be injured, but we don’t know for how long."
In the grand scheme of things for Arsenal, the result of Tierney's impending scan will be more important than the actual result against Liverpool.
Mikel Arteta may have publicly been refusing to accept defeat in the race for a European spot via the Premier League but, in reality, Arsenal’s race had been run well before they were comprehensively beaten by Jurgen Klopp’s champions on Saturday night.
After this 3-0 drubbing, surely even Arteta will have to admit that his side’s only chance of qualifying for continental competition next season rests on winning the Europa League?
And that is why a potentially serious injury for Tierney could be so crucial at this stage of the campaign.
The 23-year-old’s importance to this Arsenal team can’t be underestimated and the fact that Arteta has no natural cover for the former Celtic man makes the situation even worse.
Cedric Soares replaced him against Liverpool and will do a decent job on the left-hand side, but the Portugal international is naturally right-footed and can’t offer anything like the threat Tierney provides down that flank.
The fact that all three of Liverpool's goals came down his side on Saturday night was evidence of that, even if Soares himself wasn't directly to blame.
This, then, is a real problem for Arteta, who is now facing up to a season-defining Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague on Thursday night.
Arsenal head into that first leg sitting ninth in the Premier League, seven points off sixth and nine points adrift of the top four.
The league season has been a mess and although there has been genuine improvement since Boxing Day, the defeat against Liverpool was a clear indicator of how large the gulf in class is that exists between Arsenal and the league’s top sides.
The Reds were on another level, dominating from start to finish and leaving Arteta’s hapless side to feed off scraps all evening.
"Every defeat is different, but this one hurts deeply because of the image that we showed and the lack of clarity that we wanted to get out from the game," the manager admitted. "We need to apologise to our people, to our fans. This standard is nowhere near what we want.”
Indeed, Arsenal mustered just three shots against Liverpool, two of which were on target, and finished the game having had a mere 35 per cent share of possession.
Without Granit Xhaka, who was missing through illness, they had nobody to conduct the midfield and the absence of the injured Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe left them short of energy and quality in attack.
It's only when they are not there that you realise just how much Arsenal rely on their two young academy products to add some guile to an attack which is left almost bereft of quality in their absence.
"I don’t care who was missing; that is making excuses," a clearly furious Arteta stated. "The international [break] is an excuse too and I hate excuses.
"Liverpool were much better than us in every single department. And they fully deserved to win the match by a bigger margin.
"I am fully responsible for that. The rest, about one player [missing], two players, three players, is just making excuses."
Captain Pierre-Emerick Auabmeyang was a passenger again for Arsenal, after starting on the left side of the forward line, and while Nicolas Pepe did at least put in a shift on the opposite flank, the Ivory Coast international barely troubled Andy Robertson.
Liverpool – with Fabinho imperious in midfield – gave Arsenal a schooling and the only surprise was it took them until 64 minutes to make their dominance count, with Jota heading home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb cross.
Mohamed Salah added a second soon after for Klopp’s side before a poor pass out from the back by Gabriel gifted Liverpool a third, Jota again the man on target.
It was a horrible end to a horrible night for Arsenal.
They have been much-improved against the other members of the Premier League’s perceived 'Big Six' this season, but this was a stark reminder of just how off the pace they remain.
Attention will now start to turn to Europe when they will get a chance to respond to such a miserable domestic performance.
But first we must wait to hear the extent of Tierney’s injury, which has the potential to define the closing weeks of Arsenal’s season.
The Gunners were crushed 3-0 by the Reds at the Emirates, and their manager was not happy
Mikel Arteta has said Arsenal’s dismal loss to Liverpool left him "in shock," and has called on his players to show "big balls" and fashion a response.
Arsenal’s outside hopes of making a late push for the European places suffered a huge setback with a 3-0 loss to Liverpool at the Emirates on Saturday.
The score flattered Arsenal, as they were second best in every facet of the game.Editors' Picks What was said?
Arteta pulled no punches with his assessment of the performance.
“We completely deserved to lose the game,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “They were better in every department and deserved to win the game with the margin they had, or even more. I accept responsibility for the way we played today.
“I don't have to use any excuses - that we don't have five or six players - the standards are much higher at this football club and I have to get them to perform at that level. It was technical as well. We gave every ball away and could not put three passes together. The basics weren't there today.
"At the moment I am in shock. I didn't expect that because of the way the team trained.”Arteta seeking a response
The Gunners’ hopes of earning a place in the Champions League through their Premier League position are effectively over.
They still have a route into Europe’s premier club competition via victory in the Europa League.
Arsenal take on Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals on Thursday, and Arteta is demanding a response from his players.
“It is a challenge and brings an opportunity,” he said. “If you have courage and big balls and you represent a club like this, you have to stand up in the next game and take it.”Gunners boss apologises to fans
Arsenal fans are not known for their vociferous nature, but it was probably fortunate there were no supporters at the Emirates on Saturday as the atmosphere could have turned ugly.
Arteta was unhappy in his pitch-side interviews, and took the opportunity in his press conference to apologise to Gunners fans.
"We want to apologise, to our people and our fans,” he said. “This is nowhere near what we want and we have to do better."Further reading
The Reds boss was thrilled with the performance his side delivered in the win over the Gunners
Jurgen Klopp has said Liverpool will focus on their own games, as they cannot influence what Chelsea and Leicester do in the race for the top four.
Saturday marked the day Liverpool could no longer win the title, as mathematically Manchester City cannot be caught by the Reds, but they brushed off the setback of failing to defend their championship by crushing Arsenal 3-0.
It was an excellent performance, and moved the Reds to within two points of Chelsea following their surprise loss to West Brom.Editors' Picks What was said?
Klopp was delighted with the overall package his side produced in humbling the Gunners in north London.
“It was very good,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “Our counter-pressing was of the highest level. In general the defending of the whole team looked exactly like it should look.
“Overall, I am extremely happy with the performance. It is all about the three points and the result.”Top-drawer Trent
Trent Alexander-Arnold bounced back from the disappointment of Gareth Southgate's decision to drop him from the England squad to deliver an excellent performance.
He was a threat going forward all evening, and delivered a sensational cross for Diogo Jota to net the opening goal.
Klopp was thrilled for his right-back, as he said: “Trent Alexander-Arnold showed his class.
“I don’t want to make a funny discussion about Trent. It is Gareth’s decision. He is blessed with the choice he has in that decision.
“Trent is in good shape, and if somebody says he is not, then I have to say that is wrong.”Liverpool in the hunt for fourth
With eight games remaining in the season, the Reds do not have their destiny in their own hands.
But they are now within two points of Chelsea, and could take momentum from the win over the Gunners.
"We don’t look at Chelsea, or West Ham, or Leicester because we have to win our games. Also in our situation other teams have to lose games as well as we don’t play Chelsea any more, we don’t play Leicester any more.
“We have enough games. We have a tough programme. We don’t have to start dreaming, we have to keep working. It was a nice start and tonight the package was extremely good.”Further reading
The right-back, who broke through from the Reds' academy in 2019-20, has emerged as a regular senior face and credits his manager's input
Neco Williams has hailed Jurgen Klopp's hands-on approach to Liverpool's young guns as crucial to his development, adding that he has matured as a player thanks to his manager.
The right-back, who broke through from the Reds' academy in 2019-20, has gone on to become a fully-fledged first-team member since his emergence, with a Premier League winners' medal and a clutch of Wales caps to his name.
Though Liverpool have struggled to recapture the heady highs of last season, the 19-year-old has continued to flourish as one of the more promising talents on Merseyside and has now paid tribute to his manager's methods in helping to shape him.Editors' Picks What has Williams said?
"He has played a massive part in my career so far," the teenager told Premier League Productions, per the club's official website . "From when you’re a little kid, you always dream of playing for the team you’ve always played for.
"For me to be at Liverpool since I was six and to come through the stages and to make my debut was a surreal moment for me. It’ll be a moment that I never forget.
"To make it under Jurgen Klopp is an extra little boost for me and was a special moment."How does Jurgen Klopp's approach work?
Williams added: "He is like that for all the players.
"As soon as you have maybe a few bad games or a bad game he will be the first one to come up to you and go through things you need to improve on or what you can do better.
"He also tells you what you’re good at. That just gives you that confidence to go out and keep going on the training ground or playing out on the field. He has played a massive role in my career.
"I’ve matured in a way off him because he has taught me the more senior side of the game. He has taught me a lot since I made my debut."The bigger picture
Williams played the whole game in Wales' opening Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying Group E defeat to Belgium, before making an appearance off the bench in their friendly win over Mexico.
In a group that also includes the Czech Republic, Ryan Giggs' side face a tough challenge to achieve qualification for next year's tournament.
Following the conclusion of the March international break, with Wales set to face Jaroslav Silhavy's side on March 30, Williams will return to Anfield ahead of Liverpool's Premier League run-in, with the Reds facing a difficult path to the top four, leaving the Champions League as their only shot at silverware this term.Further reading
Europe's elite teams will all be looking to strengthen this summer but the market will be greatly affected by the ongoing economic crisis
The March international break is a source of frustration for some football fans, a badly-timed interruption to a club campaign approaching its climax.
For their teams, though, these weeks usually represent a chance to take stock and, in some cases, step their recruitment strategies for the following season.
The wheels can be set in motion on some transfers, preliminary talks can begin and offers can even be made.Editors' Picks
But how can clubs make plans in the current economic climate? It's hard to look to the future when the present is shrouded in uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
As Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently told Sky Sport Germany, "I know the situation in the European leagues very well, and the clouds are getting darker instead of lighter."
Many top teams, therefore, find themselves caught between two stools, wondering whether they should they sit tight or starting making moves.
"I'm speaking with clubs that want to spend money on players in the summer," a top agent who operates mainly in France and the United Kingdom told Goal, "but they've got no visibility in terms of what they will be able to spend.
"They're still having conversations with players, trying to anticipate what will happen. And you have to do that; otherwise, you'll miss out on opportunities.
"But clubs are being very careful as they have no budget forecast for next season, or the season after that."
Consequently, the nature of this summer's transfer market is difficult to predict. The biggest clubs still want to sign the best players – but do they have the money to make it happen?
After all, even Europe's elite have been devastated by the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Manchester United, for example, remain a commercial colossus. At a time when many companies are shying away from investing in football, the Red Devils have managed to secure a new £235 million ($326m) shirt sponsorship deal with TeamViewer.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would dearly love to sign a world-class centre-back, a prolific No.9 and an incisive right winger this summer, but the Norwegian recently told reporters: "We have to be realistic and responsible in the way we do our business both on and off the pitch. We have to look at the whole picture. Where can we spend the money? And how much is there?
"There are improvements to be made to the training ground and the stadium. We also have players in the academy that we can now maybe give opportunities to.
"All clubs in the world are going through the same situation. I think there’s just going to be less and less transfers happening in the world of football with all these changes."
There's no denying that some of the game's traditional heavyweights are in no position to flex their financial muscles this year.
Barcelona have become synonymous with massive summer transfers in recent seasons but their scattergun approach, coupled with the effects of the pandemic, have left them battling bankruptcy.
Consequently, their need to look to the academy for help is far greater than United's, with new president Joan Laporta left with little other option than to use La Masia as the foundation for his rebuilding project at Camp Nou.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, haven't spent a cent for the past two transfer windows. When Florentino Perez, the man behind the Galacticos era at the Santiago Bernabeu, is preaching prudence, one begins to fully comprehend the gravity of the economic situation.
So, what on Earth can we expect this summer?
"I think it's going to be an active market, in terms of people looking for opportunities, but I don't think that will necessarily drive the headline figures we've seen previously," Tim Bridge of the Deloitte Football Money League tells Goal.
"I think we'll see a lot of swap deals, even if they might not be labelled as such. A lot of clubs are probably going to have to lose a player to bring one in.
"There are clearly some big-name players that would otherwise command a significant fee who could go for slightly smaller figures.
"The interesting thing is that I think clubs are going to have to be slightly more tactical in their approach to the transfer market. There's going to be a greater focus than ever before on making sure the right players are bought rather than taking what you can get to fill gaps in the squad."
In essence, even some of the game's richest clubs can no longer afford to make costly mistakes. Of course, not everyone will be quite so constricted.
Watzke argues that clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will have no cash-flow problems because they "are backed by entire states which find ways and means to pump in money".
The current economic climate represents an opportunity for those clubs and also for ones with wealthy benefactors, like Roman Abramovich's Chelsea.
The Blues spent big last summer but are nonetheless in the running to sign Erling Haaland, the most coveted centre-forward on the market today, because they know that they will face fewer competitors this year than next, when the pandemic will hopefully have subsided and the Norwegian's reported £67m ($92m) buy-out clause will come in effect.
Dortmund do not want to sell Haaland at the end of the season, though. If push came to shove, they would rather cash in on Jadon Sancho, who was wanted by Manchester United last year.
But even then, there could be issues. Dortmund refused to sell the England international for anything less than €120m (£108m/$142m) last August but the market has changed dramatically since then.
If fifth-placed BVB were to fail to finish in the top four of the Bundesliga, they may be forced to accept a smaller bid for Sancho in order to balance books already negatively impacted by playing in empty stadia for a year.
"Missing out on over €50m (£43m/$60m) a year in matchday revenue for the biggest clubs is a gap that many will have to fill," Bridge says. "And the easiest way to do that is sell a valuable asset.
"It all comes down to cash. Football is a simple business. It's about cash management and having it available at the appropriate points in time.
"Now, if a club sold a player for a fee two years ago, they may now be due a payment on that player now, meaning while it may look like their financial position is challenging, their cash position may be boosted because of the money that's due to come in from previous sales.
"So, it can get very nuanced at times but, fundamentally, it is a buyer's market right now. It's very advantageous for anyone that has the money, or can raise the money, to go out and try to sign top players."
Those struggling to make ends meet, though, will have to get creative, as Barca and Juventus did last summer by effectively swapping Arthur and Miralem Pjanic.
Both players were assigned hefty transfer fees and money spent on each signing helped to resolve budgetary shortfalls. Ultimately, the only money that changed hands was the estimated €10m (£8.6m/$12.5m) difference between the two prices.
So, the goal for many clubs this summer will be doing deals without spending too much money – at least not initially.
"We will definitely see a lot of swap deals this summer," says transfer market reporter Fabrizio Romano, "but I think we'll also have a lot of loans with an obligation to buy.
"The idea will be to avoid paying any money up front and/or paying over many years. This is a key part of the pandemic transfer market.
"We're used to these kinds of deals in Italy but I think in Spain and England it's something new. But this will be the key for everyone struggling with the economic crisis.
"Look at the Ozan Kabak situation. Schalke are struggling badly in the Bundesliga so they allowed him to join Liverpool in January on loan on deadline day and with no obligation to buy.
"And this is a player that they wanted €30m (£25m/$37.5m) for last summer but they accepted a loan because they're in financial trouble because of both the pandemic and the fact they're now facing relegation.
"So, this deal alone shows you how the market has changed because of the pandemic."
Ultimately, it all comes down to wages. That's where all of the cash is going. Remember, the reason why Barca found themselves in such a financial hole was because 74 per cent of their record-breaking annual income was going on salaries.
That is why we are seeing cuts across the board in football. Of course, players are entitled to refuse to reduce their wages and that represents another potential headache for clubs.
In their desperation to get expensive well-paid flops off their books, some teams will not only have to expect smaller fees but maybe also subsidise their salaries.
"Sometimes, behind the transfer, the selling club will agree to pay any difference in wages, to ensure a transfer takes place" Bridge explains.
"Let's say, for example, a player is earning £100,000 ($140,000) a week and the buying club can only offer £60,000 ($83,000), the selling club will make up the difference. That's quite common and goes on a lot more than people realise to ensure that it takes place."
However, if a club won't – or perhaps more likely can't – continue to cover a player's wages, what then? Will a player agree to drop their wage demands in order to secure a transfer?
"Naturally, as a player, you aim to make progress when you move from one club to another," our anonymous agent explains.
"In life in general, when you leave one job for another, it's usually for a better salary or a role with more responsibility and, therefore, more money.
"So, players on big wages could be affected, because there won't be many clubs who will be able to pay the sort of money they're presently on."
Deals could break down, then. If players refuse to accept wage cuts, or reduced salaries elsewhere, they'll end up staying at clubs that don't want them. Think Winston Bogarde – just with more money going down the drain.
So, many players will have a big decision to make regarding their wage demands if they want to find a new home. Just look at the predicament Cristiano Ronaldo presently finds himself in.
The forward wants to play in a Champions League-winning Juventus team but his wages are affecting the club's chances to sufficiently strengthen the squad, particularly in midfield. In that sense, a parting of the ways would suit both parties.
But it's not so easy. Juve can't really afford to retain the services of a 36-year-old who is costing them approximately €85m (£73m/$94m) per annum but they would need a transfer fee of around €29m (£25m/$35m) to avoid making a capital loss on the Portuguese
And who will be willing to pay such a price right now? A five-time Ballon d'Or winner could be left in limbo at a team presently 10 points off the top of the Serie A table.
"It's a really, really complicated situation," Romano acknowledges. "Some top players will be forced to stay with their clubs for another year.
"However, I think that if we're talking about Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain or Haaland at Dortmund, their price will be the same. It won't be affected too much by the crisis. If you want to buy these guys, you'll still have to pay big money.
"I think the issue is more medium-level players. Their value will change. Clubs will be forced to change the price for guys like Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho and accept lower bids because they have to lower their wage bills.
"And it's not just Barcelona. Many clubs are facing a difficult situation with salaries here in Italy but also in England. So, that could mean having to accept a big loss on a player. They'll sell them for a smaller fee but at least get the salary off their wage bill."
The hope must be, though, that clubs will take a long, hard look at how they have ended up in this position. Nobody could have predicted the pandemic but one did not have to be a financial expert to see that football's business model was fundamentally flawed.
Interestingly, European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli is already floating radical ideas about reforming the transfer market, obviously with a view to protecting his members' interests, this time by introducing a rule that would prevent Champions League participants from buying players from one another.
But the real question is whether there is any hope of something good coming out of a dreadful situation, whether the pandemic could lead to the creation of a fairer, more financially stable system for everyone.
"At some stage, there has to be a normalisation of the industry, either back towards the situation pre-pandemic, or dealing with things as they are going to be now," Bridge argues. "At the moment, there is too much uncertainty. Nobody really knows when this is going to end.
"So, you want to see progressive change as a result, because then everyone in the game would win, all of its stakeholders.
"You have to think that if football doesn't make changes as a result of the pandemic and to learn from the lessons, it would be a real missed opportunity."
And those clouds over the European game will only get darker.
A fellow Netherlands international centre-half has suggested that a Premier League title winner could figure for his country this summer
Matthijs de Ligt has delivered a positive update on the fitness of Virgil van Dijk heading towards this summer’s European Championship, with the Netherlands international seeing his fellow centre-half “looking well” in an ongoing recovery from knee ligament damage.
A commanding Liverpool defender has been stuck on the sidelines since suffering an untimely injury in a Merseyside derby date with Everton in October 2020.
Questions have been asked of whether the 29-year-old will be ready to link up with his country for a shot at continental glory in June, but De Ligt has suggested that encouraging progress is being made in a bid to make Frank de Boer’s squad.Editors' Picks What has been said?
Juventus star De Ligt has told reporters when quizzed on Van Dijk: “We had a meeting, [Van Dijk] was there too.
“He looked very good, he seemed very fresh and free. Of course, I don't know how he feels physically, he doesn't really want to put any pressure on himself either.
“He has a clear mind and looks at it day by day. He is calm and wants to see where he's at, at moment the Euros are starting.
“I think it's important for him to be calm, and to be able to recuperate from his injury without any pressure from us or from the country.
“He will decide if he will be at the Euros. If he's there, he’s there. If he's not there, other guys will have to fill his shoes. But he looked well.”Who is covering for Van Dijk at present?
Daley Blind lined up alongside De Ligt in a 2022 World Cup qualifying defeat to Turkey, with Inter defender Stefan de Vrij ruled out after contracting Covid-19.
There are other options for the Dutch to consider, but the hope is that Van Dijk will return to action before the end of a domestic season at Anfield.
Asked to pick out his preferred partner in the national side, De Ligt said: “That's a question that’s not really relevant to me.
“In the end, it's the manager who decides who plays, what we need. In possession, Daley is one of the best defenders I have ever played with.
“Stefan plays in Italy, is more physical and is stronger than Daley. So it might also depend on our opponents. We also have Nathan Ake and other guys. There are enough options.
“I might not even be playing. That's something the manager decides, that depends on the game. We simply have to respect the manager's decisions.”
The Netherlands are due to open their campaign at the rescheduled Euro 2020 with an outing against Ukraine in Amsterdam on June 13.Further reading
Jason McAteer can appreciate why many would favour a raid on PSG this summer, but he feels a Borussia Dortmund winger is the best option
Jadon Sancho should be figuring above Kylian Mbappe on any list of dream signings at Liverpool, claims Jason McAteer, with the Reds told that the Borussia Dortmund winger would offer “something a little bit different”.
Jurgen Klopp has seen a raid on his former club for a highly-rated England international mooted in the past, but no official approach has been made.
Speculation is starting to surface again heading towards the summer window, with a Paris Saint-Germain superstar seeing a potential switch to Anfield hinted at, but it remains to be seen who the reigning Premier League champions target in a bid to rebuild.Editors' Picks What has been said?
Former Reds star McAteer has, in association with FreeSuperTips, told Goal when asked who he would be lining up: “You’ll think I’ll say if I can sign any player, I’d sign Mbappe? The biggest talking points at Liverpool are the tactics. Klopp has tried to evolve tactically. He has tried to use a 4-2-3-1, he has tried to change it up and go away from this traditional 4-3-3 – he just hasn’t really had the players to do that job.
“[Diogo] Jota obviously opens up the potential to that tactical change but sometimes you can become very predictable. I think Liverpool did, in some ways, become predictable, and I think that’s why they’ve lost some of the games that they have.
“You look at the teams that have come with that low block, they’ve come with that low defensive unit that is saying ‘come and break us down. We know we’ll get an opportunity. And if we can be clinical, we can kind of nick this’.
“I think that’s what’s happened in quite a lot of the games this season, Liverpool have come unstuck against teams that have offered those kinds of tactics, they haven’t been able to break them down. So, I think versatility would be the way to go.
“I know it’s a long-winded answer. But I’d sign Jadon Sancho. I’d sign him because he’s got that versatility.
“I think he can play different positions: he can play left, or right, or down the centre if you wanted. “He’s got pace and he’s got creativity. If there’s a low block and you need something a little bit different, he offers that. He’s also young and he fits into the mould of this Liverpool team. That’s the player I’d go out and buy.”Why would Liverpool want Sancho?
The Reds are already well-stocked for attacking talent, with Mohamed Salah filling a role on the right of their front line at present.
Sancho would, however, be a useful alternative for Klopp to have at his disposal, especially as exits are being mooted on Merseyside.
The 21-year-old winger has flourished since leaving Manchester City’s academy ranks in 2017.
Having burst onto a senior stage in Germany, earning international recognition along the way, Sancho has gone on to take in 130 appearances for Dortmund.
Across those outings, 46 goals have been recorded while a further 60 efforts have been teed up for grateful team-mates.Further reading
The Reds assistant says the Portuguese has adjusted to Jurgen Klopp's system perfectly since his move from Wolves
Diogo Jota's "intuition in the box is so difficult to coach", according to Pep Lijnders, who thinks the Liverpool star is "on the same technical level" as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Jota has had an immediate impact at Anfield since joining the club from Wolves for £41 million ($57m) in the summer transfer window, scoring goals for fun despite the Reds' patchy form in 2020-21.
The Portuguese has added even greater depth to Liverpool's all-star attacking ranks, with assistant manager Lijnders left in awe over how quickly he has adapted to Jurgen Klopp's system.Editors' Picks What's been said?
“Jota is on the same technical level as our front three - I said this before and the whole world can see it. Quick and being quick in mind is a lethal combination for a striker, he has ‘direction’ in his game,” Lijnders told the club's official website.
“Diogo understands that it’s not about him, it’s about him, Sadio, Bobby, Mo, it’s about togetherness. Adapting to our pressing style isn’t easy but with him it goes very naturally.
“It says a lot how quick he adapted to the team and how quick the team adapted to him. It’s just pure quality as a team player and as a person.
“He has this positioning in the box where he is often on the right spot in the right time. This intuition in the box, this pure instinct, that is something that is so difficult to coach. I still find it really difficult to coach that attribute.”Jota's record for Liverpool
Jota forced his way into Klopp's starting XI in the first half of the season by proving he can match the output of Salah, Mane and Firmino in the final third of the pitch.
The 24-year-old scored nine goals in his first 17 games across all competitions for the Reds, including a stunning hat-trick against Atalanta in the Champions League group stage.
However, Jota's progress was halted by a serious knee injury in early December, and Liverpool struggled in his absence over the festive period as the fixture list began to pile up.
He made his long-awaited return to action off the bench during a home defeat to Chelsea at the start of the month, before starting the Premier League champions' next three games.
Jota got back among the goals by scoring the winner against Wolves at Molineux in Liverpool's final outing before the international break, and his continued presence will be crucial to their chances of finishing in the top four and going all the way in the Champions League.What's next?
Jota will be back in contention for a spot in Klopp's line-up when the Reds take in a trip to Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal on April 3.
Liverpool will then have three days to prepare for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid in Spain.Further reading
The Scottish full-back believes a top-four finish and Champions League glory can still be achieved come the end of the season
Andrew Robertson is still hopeful that the Premier League champions can "show the Liverpool of old" and salvage their stuttering 2020-21 campaign.
The Reds stormed to their first league title in 30 years last term but have been unable to reach the same levels of consistency this time around amid an unfortunate injury crisis.
However, Robertson still believes Jurgen Klopp's side can go all the way in the Champions League and secure a top-four finish in the top-flight if they rediscover their best form in the final few weeks of the season.Editors' Picks What's been said?
"It's been a different season," the Scottish left-back told Sky Sports. "I like the responsibility, I have always had that responsibility at Liverpool, but maybe a bit more has been put on me this season with the likes of Virgil [van Dijk] being out, [Jordan] Henderson being out, [Joe] Gomez being out, [Joel] Matip being out.
"Unfortunately, we have not had as good a season as we probably thought but there's still time to fix it, there's still time to make it a bit better.
"We believe that we should be higher up the table and competing which we were doing before Christmas. We just took a bad turn but hopefully, we have seen the back of that now.
"Hopefully we can show the Liverpool of old and we can keep kicking on and the season might not be all bad come the end of it. There's still a long way to go.
"We're used to juggling two competitions. We have got to go on all fronts. We need to go for both [top four and Champions League] - we need to get up the league as high as possible - we need to put a run together.
"We have struggled for consistency this season. You don't make the top four unless you put six, seven, eight results together and that's what we need at the end of the season."Salvation in Europe
Liverpool have surrendered their Premier League trophy in weak fashion since the turn of the year, allowing Manchester City to move 25 points clear of them at the top of the table.
Jurgen Klopp's men also suffered early exits from the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, but have been far more consistent on the European stage.
The Reds finished top of Champions League Group D with four wins out of six to qualify for the round of 16, where they were able to see off RB Leipzig 4-0 on aggregate.
Klopp has already delivered one Champions League title during his reign at Anfield, and few would bet against the Reds going all the way again this term despite their erratic domestic form.
Liverpool have saved their best performances for the Champions League, which they may now have to win in order to gain entry to next season's competition.
It will take a monumental effort for the Merseyside outfit to qualify via the Premier League, given the fact they are currently five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with only nine games left to play.
However, the extra rest afforded by the international break could benefit the Reds ahead of a huge meeting with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on April 3.Further reading
The England coach has overlooked the Liverpool right-back for upcoming World Cup qualifiers
Steven Gerrard has said he was "surprised" by Gareth Southgate’s decision to drop “world-class” Trent Alexander-Arnold from the England squad.
The right-back’s form has been some way below the level he produced in the previous couple of seasons, and Southgate elected to overlook the Liverpool man for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino, Albania and Poland.
Rangers boss Gerrard has said he would be happy to speak to the 22-year-old to offer some advice, as he feels Alexander-Arnold is the best English right-back in the country.Editors' Picks What has been said?
“One thing’s for sure, I’ll always be there for Trent,” Gerrard told the Athletic . “It goes without saying, any second of the day. I wouldn’t make the first move. He’s a man himself. He knows where he’s at.
“Gareth Southgate makes the decisions there. I don’t necessarily agree with that decision. But I’m not the England manager. I think Trent is the best English right-back in the country.
“One thing I’ve learned from being a player is you can’t always be 10 out of 10. When you do come off, you need that support, love and attention from your manager more than anyone else. So, I was surprised by the decision but that’s my opinion and my opinion is not important in this.
“Trent is a world-class right-back, he’s the best right-back the country has got. We’ve got other fantastic right-backs by the way. But in terms of the loaded side of the question, I’m there for Trent and any of the other Liverpool players at any moment of the day.”Alexander-Arnold’s England competition
Southgate has opted to select Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Reece James for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
All three have been in good form for their clubs, with the former selected despite missing a portion of the season with Atletico Madrid on account of a suspension due to a breach of gambling rules.
Walker’s form has been consistently excellent for runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City, while James has found favour with new Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.
Having made his England debut against Costa Rica in 2018, Alexander-Arnold has 12 caps to his name and will need to find consistency in the final weeks of the season if he is to force his way into the squad for this summer’s European Championship.Further reading