Belfast Telegraph

Klopp gets his man as Alisson boards plane for Liverpool medical


By John Skilbeck

Jurgen Klopp insists his players will welcome the help from new signings rather than fear competition.

Midfield trio Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri have arrived and Klopp looks set to land goalkeeper Alisson from Roma, with the clubs having agreed a fee of £66.8m - a world record for a shot-stopper.

A hectic end to last season and a number of injuries left Liverpool's resources thinly stretched, and the German is determined to avoid that this campaign.

Klopp said: "Maybe it will be the first year we don't sell a key player. There was always a lot of change, but in both directions. Now it is more in one direction.

"Big teams, successful teams, if you don't buy it, you have to build it. That means stay together, bring additions in and make the next step.

"The team and squad are in a really good moment. We had the situation where we had 12 (senior) players (fit) - they know we need the depth in the squad. It is not like they say, 'Bring in another midfielder? Why? We are all still here'.

"They know we need the quality and they know that if we win something here then we will win it with 25 players. In the whole period in the last two months of the season this club and this team came closer together because we had to fight like crazy. What the boys did in those last two months was exceptional."

Italian website Forza Roma, which is affiliated to newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport, published a video yesterday that it said showed Alisson at Rome's Ciampino airport preparing to board a private jet to Manchester and on his way to Liverpool for a medical on Saturday.

Alisson spoke in the video, saying: "Greetings to Roma fans. I'm sorry but I cannot say any more, I'll say everything later."

Alisson is expected to be the final new face through the door this summer but, although he has done his business relatively early, Klopp is facing difficulties preparing for the season with those players who reached the latter stages of the World Cup having a break before beginning their pre-seasons.

He said: "I love the pre-season but I really loved the good old pre-season when you had all players together.

"We're missing three or four offensive players. (Roberto) Firmino, Mo (Salah), Sadio (Mane) and Shaq (Shaqiri). It means an interesting challenge.

"Hendo (Jordan Henderson) is not in, Trent (Alexander-Arnold) is not in, Simon (Mignolet) is not in and Dejan (Lovren) will be the latest to come back.

"In terms of squad planning, I am really fine. In terms of football, we are in a good way but not where we want to be. A lot will come once the other boys are back. We will be fine in the end."

Movement over the last few weeks of the transfer window is set to be away from Liverpool, with Klopp admitting others will join Jon Flanagan and Emre Can.

"We have to," he said. "We can't go with 35-40 players. We need a lot of players but not 40."

Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to miss the whole of the forthcoming season.

The extent of the knee injury suffered by the Liverpool midfielder during the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Roma in April has now been revealed.

The 24-year-old sustained what has been described as multiple ligament damage in a tackle and underwent successful surgery eight days later.

He will not need to go under the knife again but faces a long rehabilitation programme.

A statement from Liverpool read: "The estimated length of his lay-off was not revealed at the time at the request of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who did not want the news to distract from the Reds' ongoing Champions League run and the excitement surrounding it."

The news will come as a huge blow and a shock to Liverpool fans. Klopp said: "His recovery has started superbly well. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus."

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