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Liverpool's Klopp admires old foe Pep for ignoring easy option at Manchester City

By Mike Whalley

Pep Guardiola deserves credit for avoiding the easy path by taking on a significant challenge at Manchester City, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has suggested.

Both managers are trailing Chelsea in the race for the Premier League title, although there is arguably more pressure on Guardiola as City prepare to visit Anfield for an enticing fixture tomorrow.

The Catalan is facing perhaps the most significant test of his highly-successful managerial career as he attempts to drag his side back within sight of the leaders.

He arrived in the Premier League last summer with a record of 21 trophies in seven years of management, first with Barcelona and then with Bayern Munich.

Yet he suffered the longest winless run of his managerial career during the autumn, going six matches without a victory, and has acknowledged that he needs time to adjust his methods to English football.

Klopp, whose team are second going into the weekend, thinks that Guardiola deserves great credit for taking on such a challenge, when he could have selected much easier jobs.

The Liverpool manager is also of the view that, whatever City's manager achieves in England, his influence on the world game has already secured him a lasting legacy.

Klopp said: "He came here with open eyes. He could have had easier jobs in easier leagues, that is for sure.

"He could have gone everywhere. He wanted to come here. He was probably aware 100 per cent of the big challenge.

"He knew he had a wonderful squad at Barcelona and a wonderful squad at Bayern but he had a big influence on the way they played football.

"If you go to Barcelona as a new manager they will tell you: 'By the way, don't forget, we play like Pep Guardiola played.' That's the biggest influence you can have.

"Bayern loved the years he was there. He is a fantastic manager. Why did he come here? Maybe you should ask him."

The two managers faced each other eight times in Germany, when Klopp was in charge of Borussia Dortmund; Guardiola's Bayern Munich won four and lost three.

Klopp has seen first hand that Guardiola is more than happy to adapt his methods in order to ensure success.

The Liverpool manager has memories of their first Bundesliga meeting in November 2013, when Guardiola gained a 3-0 victory by modifying his short passing philosophy in favour of a more direct approach.

Klopp recalled: "They changed their style of play against us a few times, not always, but a few times.

"A clear philosophy does not mean that you stick to it in each moment. If you have to adapt to your opponent then that is what we all do.

"We play the football we think that makes sense and Pep does the same with his team and his ideas."

Klopp will be without playmaker Philippe Coutinho and centre-back Joel Matip for tomorrow's match, as both are recovering from ankle problems.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are prepared to consider a deal with Inter Milan to send Lucas Leiva out on loan.

No deal is currently in place, but the midfielder is looking to move to get regular games, having made just three Premier League starts this season.

Klopp though has dismissed claims he is interested in signing Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in January.

Reports suggested the England international was a potential target for the Reds boss when the transfer window opens next month.

However, Klopp played down the speculation.

"I don't usually say anything about transfer rumours but I can make an exception. Nonsense," he said.

"This kind of thing I think a lot about but I say nothing because it is really not interesting what I think about this.

"You (the media) are already on a path so do with it what you want but from our side nothing else to say about it."

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