Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is backing Luis Diaz to fill the shoes of departed star Sadio Mane as he claims the Colombian “just needs one goal” ahead of the Reds’ first home game of the season against Crystal Palace
- Jurgen Klopp says Luis Diaz is improving his understanding of his Liverpool role
- The January signing faces the significant challenge of replacing Sadio Mane
- Klopp expects the striker to be more consistent with confidence and structure
- Liverpool host Crystal Palace in their Premier League home opener on Monday
Jurgen Klopp is convinced Luis Diaz will be a rich source of goals for Liverpool after enduring the most grueling pre-season of his professional career.
Diaz could not have made a more positive impression in his first few months in England.
His performances, following his £37.5m move from Porto, were one of the main reasons Liverpool won both domestic cups and reached the Champions League final.
Luis Diaz (centre) went close but failed to score in Liverpool’s opening 2-2 draw with Fulham
Boss Jurgen Klopp says the 25-year-old is adapting after a bright start to his time at the club
The Colombia striker scored six times on his debut in January, but there was always a sense that his return could be even better if he had a little more composure in the penalty area.
He had scored 16 goals for Porto in the first half of the season before being sold. Comparisons are being made with what it was like for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah when they arrived at Anfield.
They became good goalscorers instead of just scoring big goals in a team that was constructed to get the best out of them.
Klopp, whose side host Crystal Palace on Monday night, knows there will be a period when things are not smooth sailing for Diaz as he continues to adapt, but believes the work that went into Liverpool’s Austrian pre-season camp will bear fruit. in the long term for the 25-year-old.
“He definitely improved with an understanding of what we do, but it leads to strange situations as well,” Klopp said.
– We want to be flexible on the wings, and that means he has to be a little more inside, but then you realize that it is good for him if he stays longer on the outside.
“We have to get used to it – and it will help – but unfortunately a learning process never happens overnight.
“The next thing is it’s his first pre-season with us and they all – I’m not sure suffering is the right word – but they’re all feeling it.
“He will benefit from a full pre-season because he was not on international duty. He started on the first day with us and attended all the sessions and that is the most important thing.
Can Diaz be as productive as Luis Suarez?
He has the quality and the potential and if we can put the miles in his legs during pre-season it will help in the long term.
“He just needs one goal and we’ll go from there.”
With better luck, Diaz could already be up and running for the season – he hit the post at Fulham and saw another effort ruled out for offside – and it is inevitable that there will be comparisons in how he performs in the role of Mane, who is now at Bayern Munich , made his own.
Klopp understands that will be the case, but illustrated why Diaz should have no worries about finding a goal because the system that enabled Mane and Salah to thrive remains.
“That’s the way we bring the boys into the situation,” he said. – It is the way we play, how we position the players, how we protect the players, where we win the ball back and how the boys can use their speed in these moments.
They will be in a lot of scoring situations, and that makes you the player we remember.
Sadio scored three against us for Southampton, but it’s not that he scored every week. Consistency came with confidence, with teammates and with the structure of our game. That’s what we’re working on (with Luis).’
LIVERPOOL v CRYSTAL PALACE
Kick-off: 8 p.m., Anfield.
Television: LIVE on Sky Sports from 19:00.
Judge: Paul Tierney.