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14 Jan 2017

Klopp raves: 'Incredible' £27m attacker Liverpool tried to sign is a 'world-class' player

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Ahead of Sunday's crunch clash at Old Trafford, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has warned his team to be wary of one particular Man Utd player.

In his pre-match press conference on Friday, Klopp identified former Liverpool target Henrik Mkhitaryan as a major threat:

"He [Mkhitaryan] combines the best technical skills and highest tempo. It’s pretty rare. He's a good finisher, with a good attitude, and he plays different positions. He’s a world-class player, no doubt".

Prior to his move to Old Trafford last summer, Liverpool were once again linked with a move for Mkhitaryan, but when asked in August about the speculation, Klopp made the following tenuous claim:

“I had that player [Mkhitaryan]. We didn’t look for players we had already worked with. You know everything about each other so how can you develop? Where is the next step for development?".

Hmmm. Ignoring top-class players because of a prior professional association is (arguably) a flawed transfer strategy. Football is littered with examples of players signing for their previous managers and then going on to be successful. Plus, there's a big difference between working with a 20-year old, and then working with the same player six years later.

In any event, I don't buy Klopp's argument, especially in light of his regular effusive praise for Mkhitaryan. Another example: In April 2016, Klopp raved:

"He [Mkhitaryan] is one of the most talented players in the world [with] an incredible combination of speed and technique".

The idea that Klopp wouldn't want to work with 'one of the most talented players in the world' is (IMO) nonsense. If Mkhitaryan - who smashed in 55 goals/assists last season - wanted to sign for Liverpool, I'm sure Klopp would've tried to make it happen.

As for Sunday - After struggling to make Mourinho's starting XI in the first few months of the season, Mkhitaryan now has 8 goals/assists in his last 8 games, so he's building up a head of steam at precisely the wrong moment (for Liverpool).

* Cost man Utd £26m


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