7 Liverpool players that can benefit from Europa League opportunities
Liverpool are in the Europa League for the first time since the 2015-16 season, when they finished runners-up to Sevilla in Jurgen Klopp’s first season at the helm. It’s not where the club wants to be, but they can use it as a positive.
“We’ll have it definitely like this,” Jurgen Klopp told reporters, stressing that only players who have earned their chance will play.
“If there will be kids involved that depends on the level the kids can show in that moment.
“That means we have real talent there, honestly. But it’s not experimental… I think if we don’t get hit by an injury crisis or whatever, then we should have enough players to field [on] Thursday and Sunday a top team, and that’s pretty much the idea. Then we will see how we build a squad.”
We’ve identified seven Liverpool players who ought to benefit from Europa League gametime in the coming weeks and months.
There are two ways in which the Europa League can benefit Klopp’s Reds. One is that the relatively forgiving group stage draw – LASK, Union Saint-Gilloise, Toulouse – means that they ought to be able to keep main man Mohamed Salah fresh and rested away from those midweek excursions.
The other is that resting Salah affords opportunities to academy diamond Doak. The Scottish winger looks a seriously special talent, but given Salah’s quality, status and robust injury record, Premier League game time is likely to be few and far between.
But on the evidence of the 17-year-old’s performances in the youth set-up and in pre-season, he certainly looks ready for first-team action.
And with those Saudi links refusing to go away, Liverpool may have to contemplate a near future without their Egyptian King. Doak may well be it. The kid is the business.
The academy graduate centre-back looked assured on his full Premier League debut, Liverpool’s comeback 3-1 victory at Wolves, but further league minutes are unlikely with Virgil van Dijk back from suspension and Ibrahima Konate on the cusp of returning from injury.
“Excellent from the big man,” Andy Robertson told Liverpool’s official website of Quansah’s Wolves display.
“I don’t think many of us helped him in the first half, which, when you’ve got experienced players around, you probably look for help more.
“We tried to protect him but I think as a collective unit we weren’t as good in the first half, but he was very assured, done his defending very well and then on the ball he was cool and calm.”
The Europa League ought to allow Klopp to rest his more senior defenders while affording more richly deserved chances to the promising 20-year-old.
A breath of fresh air when he came in to solve the Reds’ well-documented midfield problems last season, Bajcetic looks mature beyond his age at the age of 18.
But the summer’s investment in new midfield faces means that Liverpool shouldn’t be relying on the teenager and they can be patient with reintegrating him after his recent injury lay-off kept him sidelined throughout the summer.
Bajcetic is embracing learning from his new team-mates.
“We lost some players, we got some new players and they can help us,” Bajcetic Liverpool’s matchday programme earlier this month.
“Alexis we knew the most because he had already played in the Premier League with Brighton and I have played against him.
“It is really easy to adapt to playing with players like him and Dom, who is really good. They have given us a boost, for sure, and this is the highest level of football so you can always learn from the others, especially in my position in the midfield.”
A moment Stefan Bajcetic will never forget ❤️
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A modest signing at £1.5million from Newcastle, Clark – son of former Magpies midfielder Lee – is quickly being talked up as one of the club’s best prospects.
He signed an improved five-year deal last season and the club reportedly rebuffed loan interest in the 18-year-old midfielder – suggesting he factors into the club’s first-team plans this season.
In fact, Clark was specifically namechecked by Klopp in his pre-Europa League press conference.
“So you can see that Bobby Clark has made massive steps, and the club has really good young players – the progress is really impressive,” he told reporters.
“I have and obviously Vitor Matos and Pep Lijnders are the biggest advocates of all these boys. So they know absolutely everything about them and I see them from time to time and I can say it’s good.
“But we have a situation where we don’t need to put them in when it’s too early for them. So are they in the first team? Probably not. Are they on loan? No, because we want them around to learn.”
Jones recently made his 100th appearance for his boyhood Reds but he’s yet to establish himself in Klopp’s favoured XI.
The midfielder’s stock is particularly high after his starring role in England Under-21’s UEFA Euros triumph in the summer.
He still has to fight for his place among the new recruits and the Europa League ought to give him a chance to show what he can offer.
— Curtis Jones (@curtisjr_10) September 16, 2023
The highly-rated deadline-day addition made his Liverpool debut in the closing stages of the win at Molineux.
Gravenberch offers extra depth but will be hoping to feature prominently in Klopp’s plans after leaving Bayern Munich due to his dissatisfaction with the amount of minutes he was getting.
Unlike Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister, the Dutchman didn’t get a pre-season with his new club. But the Europa League gives him a platform to get up to speed and integrate in his new surroundings.
Signed for a reported fee of £64million, Nunez really should be Liverpool’s main man up top. But things didn’t quite work out that way as he dropped to the bench after a number of missed chances in a somewhat erratic debut season on Merseyside.
The Uruguayan showed he can be a sharpshooter with those two wonderfully well-taken goals against Newcastle but it remains to be seen whether Klopp trusts him to be the spearhead of his new-look Reds side.
A confidence player if we ever saw one, Liverpool’s upcoming Europa League opponents potentially offer Nunez an opportunity to rack up the goals and really kick on.