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Klopp could ditch Thiago as Liverpool line up exciting summer move for £53m “warrior” – opinion



Klopp could ditch Thiago as Liverpool line up exciting summer move for £53m “warrior” – opinion

The Sporting machine would be perfect under Klopp’s wing…

Liverpool are reportedly eyeing a swoop for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Manuel Ugarte, who has been in stellar form for his Portuguese outfit this season.

Having fallen from their perch after years of illustrious success under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool need to rebuild and forge a path back to the top, and the midfield in particular is set to see an overhaul.

James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all poised to depart in the summer as their contracts conclude, with loanee Arthur also on his way out, and Uruguayan Ugarte could be a brilliant addition to bring a new layer of robustness to the Reds’ centre.

According to Portuguese outlet O Jogo, a fee of £53m would be required to prise the 22-year-old away from Lisbon, but his performances this term have been emphatic and with Newcastle United also circling, the Anfield hierarchy might be wise to act swiftly.

Should Liverpool sign Manuel Ugarte?

Despite the forthcoming midfield exodus at Anfield, Ugarte could be viewed as a replacement for Thiago Alcantara, who has cut a frustrating figure for much of his time at the outfit.

Signing for Liverpool from Bayern Munich for £25m in 2020, the 32-year-old Spaniard has dazzled with his superlative ability but has often been confined to the medical room, missing 60 matches across his three campaigns for the Reds, and could be running out of time to forge a central role in Klopp’s plans.

Ugarte might not be a like-for-like change, but Klopp has not shirked from shifting the system before.

Gini Wijnaldum, relentless and tireless in his industrious midfield role, was replaced by the ball-playing wizard upon the expiry of his contract in 2021, a move which has arguably not quite worked.

For all of Thiago’s brilliant qualities as a pass master, he doesn’t quite fit the mould of a quintessential Jurgen Klopp midfielder, and Ugarte, who is himself an assured presence on the ball, completing a commendable career average 89.3% of his passes, could provide the vigour to raise the energy levels once more.

As per FBref, the Uruguayan menace ranks among the top 1% of midfielders in the ‘Men’s Next 8 divisions’ (the leagues below the established big five) for pass completion, also in the top 10% for successful take-ons, the top 1% for tackles and the top 2% for interceptions per 90.

He is the “midfield machine”, in the words of talent scout Jacek Kulig, that could revitalise Liverpool’s central engine and navigate a course back to the forefront of English and European football, with his seasonal heat map for Sporting highlighting his unrelenting ubiquity.

Also praised as a “warrior” by Kulig, Ugarte would bring the iron-clad resolve back to Anfield and fortify the midfield with his imposing demeanour on the pitch.

With Thiago’s fitness levels failing to meet the grade, Klopp must act ruthlessly and sign a prodigious talent awaiting a move to one of Europe’s biggest teams.



Why Liverpool are likely to play national anthem for King Charles’s coronation despite ‘unease’

Liverpool are likely to play the national anthem at Anfield on Saturday after the Premier League “strongly suggested” it as part of a “number of activities” to mark the King’s coronation.

The league contacted all clubs with a home fixture over the long weekend to encourage them to play the anthem and have provided images and the official portrait of the King and Queen Consort to be displayed on big screens.

They are also encouraging clubs to mark the occasion with pieces in their programme and for announcements to be made over the PA system.

i understands Newcastle and Wolves have acquiesced to the Premier League’s “strong suggestion” and will play “God Save The King” but at Liverpool, where the national anthem has been met with a mixed response in recent years, it is a thorny issue.

Indeed there is understood to be some unease at Anfield at the Premier League’s edict which, while not mandatory, leaves them in a position where they are effectively damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

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If they decide not to play the anthem they will face criticism but if they do play it and some fans react negatively, it will be their support who will be lambasted in certain sections of society and the media.

Liverpool are yet to officially confirm their intentions but i understands they are veering towards playing the anthem, which has previously been booed by some sections of the support.

Jurgen Klopp said in the week that it would be a “club decision” and suggested that fan groups would be consulted.

The club have a long history of anti-establishment sentiment, entirely understandable given the long fight for justice around the Hillsborough disaster.

On Wednesday night some supporters sang “You can stick the coronation up your arse” and the anthem was booed a year ago before the FA Cup final but it is worth noting that a minute’s silence after the Queen’s death was largely well observed at Anfield.

There is an element of fatigue around the issue among some Liverpool fans, who feel it has become increasingly politicised. When Klopp defended the right of supporters to boo the anthem a year ago, it drew condemnation from then Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman.

Given its global appeal, the Premier League is keen for the competition to mark the occasion given that there is a full programme of games over the weekend.

Unlike the EFL – which moved the entire final day of the season to Monday to avoid a clash with the coronation – the Premier League decided to play on, although no games will coincide directly with the ceremony.

i can confirm that Newcastle will play the anthem before their high-profile Super Sunday clash with Arsenal while Spurs revealed a programme of events to mark the coronation.

Tottenham will show the ceremony on a big screen at Park Lane Square, outside the South Stand, at 11am. They will make access to the screen open to all fans, regardless of where they are sat for the 3pm kick-off against Crystal Palace.

The programme will carry an article about the club’s participation in the Coronation Cup in Glasgow to mark the ascension to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.


Liverpool has remarkable 15-game Arsenal proof that Jürgen Klopp has already begun his rebuild

Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Fulham on Wednesday extended its season-best run of form. The Reds have now won five games on the bounce, climbing from eighth in the Premier League up to fifth.

But you can also take it back further. Since the end of January, they have won nine, and drawn three, of their 15 matches.

Within that sequence there have been some bad defeats — an embarrassing 3-0 loss at Wolves, a 4-1 battering at Manchester City and a 1-0 reverse at Bournemouth that looks more costly by the week.

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But broadly speaking, Jürgen Klopp’s side has been faring pretty well in the league for three full months now.

This is best demonstrated through a comparison with title-chasing Arsenal. Over that 15-game period, the Reds have, somewhat remarkably, out-scored the Gunners by two points. A total of nine wins, three draws and three losses is better than Mikel Arteta’s side to the tune of one more victory and one fewer draw.

If you’re an Arsenal fan, you’d argue that this is an arbitrary period that counts for little. And that’s absolutely right, but the point is that Liverpool is pushing back up to elite levels in terms of its results. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s certainly on the right track.

Unfortunately, this sequence may not be enough for the Reds to finish in the top four, so poor were their efforts in the first half of the season.

Liverpool has out-performed Arsenal over the past 15 games

(Image: Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

It says a lot that, even after picking up 15 points out of 15, they still trail Manchester United by four points, having played two games more at the time of writing. Newcastle, meanwhile, is a further two points up the road, and has a game in hand of its own. Liverpool’s revival may simply have come too late in the season.

The fact that Newcastle must still play Arsenal itself offers a glimmer of optimism, but the Magpies would remain heavy favorites for fourth even if they lost.

Indeed, Trent Alexander-Arnold hinted after the victory over Fulham that the dressing room doesn’t regard Liverpool’s top-four prospects as ‘genuine’ at this stage.

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But that doesn’t mean this upturn will count for nothing. If the start of this season showed how negativity can endure, then perhaps the beginning of 2023/24 could demonstrate the impact of positive momentum.

The early months of the current campaign felt like a hangover from the brutality of May 2022, when the Reds were agonizingly denied Premier League and Champions League glory in the space of six days.

Further disappointment may await in the form of Europa League football, but it won’t be on anything like the same scale. If Klopp’s men can pick up positive results in their four remaining games, then they can enter the off-season with renewed optimism and self-belief, having reminded the footballing world, and more importantly themselves, of their capabilities. And that’s before the cavalry arrives in the transfer market to further revitalize the camp.

In that sense, whatever the outcome of the top-four race, the foundations for Liverpool’s resurgence next season are already being built, with Klopp the best architect for the job.