Jurgen Klopp believes Wilfried Zaha’s new deal at Crystal Palace is the equivalent of a “spectacular transfer” for Liverpool’s next opponents.
The Ivory Coast international ended last season in stunning form and was linked with a big money move for most of the summer, with Chelsea and Tottenham most frequently mentioned.
A deal never materialised and, after kicking off the season with a goal against Fulham, he has now penned an improved five-year deal.
The Eagles strengthened their squad with the likes of Cheikhou Kouyate, Max Meyer and Jordan Ayew but, speaking ahead of Liverpool’s Monday night trip to Selhurst Park, Klopp identified the extension as Palace’s best piece of business.
“There were no spectacular signings but if you want you can see Zaha as a spectacular transfer,” he said.
“I think they are pretty happy that Wilfried signed a new contract. He’s very important and last year was probably the best example of that.”
The Reds are well fancied to return from the capital with another three points after a compelling 4-0 thrasing of West Ham on the opening day of the season but Klopp is also wary of another familiar threat: Christian Benteke.
Klopp inherited the Belgian striker when he arrived at Anfield in 2015 but struggled to find a place for him and allowed him to join Palace after just a year on Merseyside.
The 27-year-old had a torrid second season, contributing only three goals in a narrow escape from relegation and ultimately losing his place in Belgium’s World Cup squad.
Klopp, who was on the wrong end of a match-winning brace from Benteke 16 months ago, said: “Everybody who thinks about writing Benteke off makes a big mistake, because his obvious skills are always there.
“Even if he didn’t score too often last season, he always has opportunities. It’s a big challenge to defend set-pieces when Christian is around. He will score goals this season, there’s no doubt about that.”
Joe Gomez looks likely to be tasked with stopping Benteke, alongside Virgil van Dijk, in another welcome outing in his preferred centre-back position.
He has been shunted to right-back consistently in his Reds career but with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nathaniel Clyne set to contest that role, Gomez has the chance to establish himself in the middle.
Joel Matip will prove stiff competition when fully fit but, having not played since March, he is liable to make his return on the bench.
“There was never any doubt about Joe and his ability to play centre-back, but he needed time,” said Klopp.
“He’s a very good football player, plays the position welll and he has a very good understanding with Virgil.”