Belfast Telegraph

I am better off keeping quiet over transfer targets, says Liverpool boss Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he will not talk about transfers as he cannot influence his targets or positively affect the outcome.

The Reds have so far signed Mohamed Salah from Roma and Dominic Solanke after his contract expired at Chelsea, but are interested in RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita and Hull left-back Andrew Robertson.

Speculation also continues to link them to Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk, despite the club publicly withdrawing their interest in the Holland international after Saints reported them to the Premier League for an alleged tapping-up of the player.

Liverpool fly out to Hong Kong for the Premier League Asia Trophy on Sunday and no further additions are expected before then.

"If whatever would say here would change anything in a positive way, I would. It is not important what I say. No. I can't say anything," said Klopp after the 1-1 friendly draw with Wigan in which Salah scored in his first appearance.

There may, however, be a departure after Lazio made a £5million bid for midfielder Lucas Leiva, the club's current longest-serving player after a decade on Merseyside.

The Brazilian was left out of the squad at the DW Stadium as he considers his future and Klopp is unsure whether the 30-year-old will be on the flight to the Far East.

Lucas, who made 19 starts in all competitions last season and 346 appearances for the club, has recently entered the final year of his contract and knows he is unlikely to get regular game time again in the new campaign.

In the last 18 months Klopp has asked Lucas to stay on to provide some much-needed experience, despite interest from a number of clubs in Turkey and Italy, but he he will not stand in the Brazilian's way if he decides he wants to pursue regular first-team football elsewhere.

"I am not 100 per cent sure, but I think for Lucas, (who's had an) outstanding, fantastic time at Liverpool, we should talk about facts and not rumours. Maybe something, maybe not," said the Reds boss.

Asked whether the midfielder would be travelling with the squad at the weekend, he added: "We will see."

"The Premier League gave us a nice challenge that we can only involve 25 players, so if we take three goalkeepers we can only take 22 (outfield players).

"Tonight we will make the decision. Maybe the squad will need to be different. Clyney (Nathaniel Clyne) has a little issue. Alberto Moreno is on the way back.

"We have to take enough players that we can play two games in difficult circumstances."

Klopp was pleased with Salah's first appearance and a goal on the stroke of half-time to equalise Alex Gibley's opener.

It was a promising 45 minutes for the Egypt international, who did not play in Wednesday's win over Tranmere as he was in Paris securing a work permit, and he could have scored inside 50 seconds after bursting forward and firing over the angle of post and crossbar.

Salah was signed from Roma to satisfy Klopp's need for more speed in a side which often looked one-paced last season when Sadio Mane and Daniel Sturridge were absent.

The 25-year-old showed in short, sharp bursts he was willing to break forward beyond the ball to stretch defences, often drifting inside to be more threatening centrally.

His goal, when it came on the stroke of half-time, was as simple as he is ever likely to get, with Roberto Firmino squaring a pass for him to score into an empty net.

"The first situation (was a) nice sprint. The goal was an easy situation," said Klopp.

"He had no idea how to defend normally because he was not involved (previously). He is really used to a completely different way of defending."

Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, both playing their first pre-season matches, both had chances to score prior to that, with Firmino all-too-casually stabbing the ball wide as he tried to find the latter for a close-range tap-in when it made more sense to shoot.

Dejan Lovren's header against the foot of a post was the closest either side came to scoring in the second half, with Sturridge missing the target with a good chance late on.

Away from the first team Steven Gerrard's first match at Liverpool's Under-18 manager got off to a winning start with a 7-0 victory over their Burton Albion counterparts at St George's Park.

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