5 questions facing Klopp after international break as Liverpool chase glory

It’s been a season to forget so far for Jurgen Klopp – but his side have a chance to end a nightmare campaign on a high as they pursue a seventh European crown on their return from the international break.

For all their injury issues, the Reds have pushed themselves into the last eight of the Champions League and have been handed a decent tie against the inconsistent Real Madrid.

With a place in the top four not out of the question either, there is plenty to aim for with nine Premier League games left to play.

But Klopp still has a few things to ponder when his squad are back at their Kirkby training base as the club go for broke in Europe with one eye also on next season.

Here are five questions facing him on Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp has a few things to ponder upon his squad returning
Jurgen Klopp has a few things to ponder upon his squad returning

1. Stick or twist?

Diogo Jota is back in scoring form for club and country
Diogo Jota is back in scoring form for club and country

For the past three years Liverpool’s front three have been untouchable. But is now the time for change?

The world class trio have struggled to reproduce their best form this season, with Roberto Firmino’s performances of particular concern.

Meanwhile Diogo Jota seems to be on the brink of another red-hot run of form so soon after his injury return.

The Portuguese forward scored the winner in Liverpool’s last outing against former club Wolves, and notched again for Portugal in their World Cup qualifier with Serbia.

Arguably Liverpool’s best attacking display this season has been the 5-0 drubbing of Atalanta where Jota netted an impressive hat-trick and was lethal alongside Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

With Liverpool’s defence a problem area for Klopp, he needs to get things right at the other end.

But will he drop the trusted Brazilian conductor in his orchestra? Or will Jota be made to wait further for his chance?

2. Keeping Kabak?

Will Ozan Kabak's loan be made permanent in the summer?
Will Ozan Kabak’s loan be made permanent in the summer?

Liverpool’s season was turned upside down by their injury crisis in defence.

But after more than 20 centre-back pairings it seems Klopp has found one he is happy to go forth with over the remainder of the campaign.

Nat Phillips deserves great credit for the way he has consistently filled in and performed his duties, but sadly the fringe man looks likely to be moved on this summer even despite his best efforts.

The man alongside him though, Ozan Kabak, still has his future firmly in his hands.

After a shaky start the Turkish youngster seems to be growing in confidence with each passing week and carried that into the international break for his country.

Liverpool already have an option to buy the 20-year-old at the end of his loan spell should Klopp choose to, but it’s no secret he was just one of a number of players the club tried to sign on deadline day.

Klopp still has a bit of time to decide on this one, though funds are going to be tight unless Liverpool can offload any of their current crop.

So will Kabak earn himself a permanent move?

3. Who’s his best midfield trio?

Thiago and Fabinho have been superb in Liverpool's midfield of late but will they stay in there?
Thiago and Fabinho have been superb in Liverpool’s midfield of late but will they stay in there?

Maybe it wasn’t the defence that was the main problem after all (we’re joking – it was).

But the absence of Fabinho from the midfield certainly didn’t help matters. And his successful restoration into his preferred position has made a huge difference in their last two matches.

With Phillips and Kabak developing an improved understanding at the back, Klopp now has what seems like a luxury of playing Fabinho in the middle of the park.

The question now is: who plays with him?

Klopp named Georginio Wijnaldum as Liverpool’s most-consistent performer this season, Curtis Jones has been a revelation in some big games this season, while Thiago is now finding his feet after a difficult start at Anfield.

Ian Wright claimed Klopp now had his “dream partnership” with Thiago and Fabinho in the centre, and Jordan Henderson is a surefire pick when fit – which shouldn’t be too far off.

But where does that leave the others? And not forgetting Naby Keita’s increased role in recent matches.

Klopp will likely rotate his side for different competitions, but all eyes will be on his selection for the Champions League.

There is of course the option of moving Fabinho back into defence when Klopp has all his midfield options fit again. But will he want to lose the Brazilian’s presence?

Lots to think about.

4. Will Alexander-Arnold’s form be affected?

Liverpool need Trent Alexander-Arnold to bounce back from his England disappointment
Liverpool need Trent Alexander-Arnold to bounce back from his England disappointment

Few Liverpool fans would have blamed Gareth Southgate for leaving Trent Alexander-Arnold out of his England squad earlier in the season.

The Reds’ full-back has been disappointing by his standards throughout much of the campaign, with his performance against Southampton the biggest case in point.

But amid Liverpool’s more sturdy displays of late, Alexander-Arnold has been thriving again and has been a real danger down the right flank for his side.

It almost seems strange that Southgate has opted to drop the defender now, but Klopp has little time to ponder over the hows and whys.

His first task will be to pick Alexander-Arnold up and ensure there is no lasting impact on his confidence, before working out whether there is anything else he can do to help the youngster maintain his recent form.

If Liverpool are to land silverware in the coming months, they need Alexander-Arnold at the top of his game.

And if he wants to make England’s squad for the Euros, he has no choice.

5. Can he get Wijnaldum his desired contract?

Gini Wijnaldum looks set to leave Liverpool unless he receives a better contract offer from the club
Gini Wijnaldum looks set to leave Liverpool unless he receives a better contract offer from the club

It looks a foregone conclusion, and Liverpool have already resigned themselves to losing their midfield ace.

For Klopp, it will be the first of his key stars to fly the nest in what signals the start of the end of this cycle of his team.

But even with Barcelona circling, Wijnaldum has made a thinly-veiled plea that he would be prepared to commit his future to Anfield.

Asked what it would be like to leave the club, Wijnaldum said earlier this month: “Really difficult because if that happens you will leave a team who you really love, a team who you shared a lot of years together, and where you feel really comfortable.

“That would be difficult… it always depends on the situation but that I would be devastated that I don’t play with this team anymore, that would be for sure.

.“The only thing that I can say is that I’m really happy at the club – I’m really happy with the team, the staff, and really happy with the fans for who I play.”

Liverpool’s hierarchy refuse to budge on their wage structure though, which appears to be the stumbling block to keeping the 30-year-old on Merseyside.

Yet can Klopp help change their minds to keep the dependable Dutchman?


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