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Jurgen Klopp backs fringe players for staying at Liverpool and bolstering squad

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his fringe players have made the right choice in staying at the club to bolster the squad in their quest for trophies rather than seeking more playing time elsewhere.

Takumi Minamino, who scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Norwich which secured Klopp’s first FA Cup quarter-final, is a prime example of what his manager was alluding to.

The Japan international, who a year after arriving from RB Salzburg for a bargain £7.25million in January 2020 moved to Southampton on loan, was attracting interest from Monaco and Leeds in the January transfer window.

There was never any great desire to sell the 27-year-old, nor was the player pushing for a move, and after playing a significant role in helping guide the club to their first League Cup win in a decade at the weekend Minamino was at it again against the Canaries in another cup competition.

“For me, to be a player of Liverpool FC is actually the best place you can be,” said Klopp, who made 10 changes from their Wembley final win over Chelsea which gave the likes of Minamino, Joe Gomez, Divock Origi, Kostas Tsimikas and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rare starts.

“But it means you have to deal with situations you would not have to deal with maybe somewhere else because there you play all the time.

“But then you have no chance to play a final maybe, or more finals maybe, maybe it’s not so easy or you have no chance to win silverware.

Liverpool’s Curtis Jones with an apparent injury to the face
Jurgen Klopp praised Curtis Jones for playing ‘an exceptional game’ against Norwich (Peter Byrne/PA)

“That’s the decision the players have to make. But the door is always open (at Anfield) because you will get your chances and then you have to deliver and then you are part of it.”

The depth of Liverpool’s squad, arguably the strongest in a generation, meant that even though players like Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were given the night off, their replacements in a second-string team still had too much quality for fellow Premier League opposition.

Midfielder Curtis Jones, who did not even make the bench for the Carabao Cup final, impressed in the first half against Norwich before being taken off as a precaution against injury while Tsimikas, back-up to Robertson, had a hand in both goals to keep their quest for an unlikely quadruple on track.

“That’s the reason we are in the situation we are in, that we have this kind of mentality and character in the squad,” added Klopp.

Takumi Minamino celebrates
Takumi Minamino scored both goals in the Reds’ 2-1 win over Norwich (Peter Byrne/PA)

“A good example is Curtis Jones, who played an exceptional game; Joe Gomez, we don’t have to discuss his quality and he showed it again.

“That’s exactly what we need to be successful in the long term. Nobody knows what will happen this year, but in the long term we need this kind of quality.

“The boys have to be ready. They don’t fight each other for a position but they have to fight to be their best version and then they have a good chance to be in the line-up for the weekend – but no guarantee.

“That means you have to do it again and again and again until you get that opportunity and then you have to show up. That’s what the boys did.”

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