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Carlo Ancelotti makes Everton demand as Man Utd chief Ed Woodward tipped to raid Toffees

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has addressed reports linking the club’s Director of Football Marcel Brands with Manchester United, urging the club to tie him down to a new contract. Brands’ deal is due to expire at the end of the season and the Sun have claimed that he is a leading candidate to take up a similar role at Old Trafford.

AS Roma are also said to be interested in the Dutchman, who helped the Toffees sign the likes of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure over the summer.

The Sun claims that those close to Brands believe he would find it difficult to turn down an opportunity with United.

However, Ancelotti has publicly asked Brands to stay at Goodison Park.

When asked about the links in his pre-match press conference ahead of Everton’s game against Leeds, Ancelotti responded: “Wow!

JUST IN: Man Utd chief Ed Woodward sent Marcel Brands warning over DOF role

“I have a good relationship with him, but apart from this a friendship.

“I think he is doing a fantastic job, he’s been at this club more than me.

“I found the club really well organised. I found a really important scouting department.

“So I think it will be important for him to continue and to find a deal with the club.”

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Ancelotti also praised Brands’ work back in October when asked if he thought the Dutchman should be given a new deal.

“I don’t know how long his contract is, honestly,” Ancelotti said.

“”What can I say? He is doing a fantastic job and he has done a fantastic job.

“I have a fantastic relationship with him, the board still has a fantastic relationship with him; if he has to renew the contract I don’t know.

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“The job that he is doing is really good.

“I said before the transfer window [when] we had the discussion about the new players, and we were totally agreed to sign these players.

“I would not force a club or a director to sign a player that they don’t like.”

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Man Utd eye move for ‘new Lionel Messi’ as transfer alternative to Jadon Sancho

Manchester United are reportedly watching teenage Argentine star Thiago Almada ahead of the transfer window opening as they target an alternative to Jadon Sancho. Almada has scored four goals in seven games for Velez Sarsfield in his home country this season and has been dubbed the new Lionel Messi.

The 19-year-old is on the radar of some of Europe’s top clubs, with United said to be among his suitors after Ed Woodward refused to meet Borussia Dortmund’s £108million price tag for Sancho over the summer.

His idol growing up was Carlos Tevez, who played for both United and neighbours Manchester City, but Almada has drawn more comparisons to Barcelona star Messi.

At 5ft 7ins he has the same low centre of gravity as Messi, while he is known for his dribbling ability and acceleration which ensures he can escape from the tightest of spaces.

Almada also tends to cut infield onto his stronger right foot when playing in wide positions, either to fire towards goal or carve out chances for teammates.

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The teenager was the subject of a £10m bid from Manchester City over the summer, according to the Manchester Evening News.

But City were rebuffed with Velez wanting closer to £16m, and Almada ended up signing a new deal committing him to the club until 2023.

The contract contains a £22m release clause – but if his form continues that won’t deter Europe’s biggest clubs, with Arsenal, Inter Milan, Valencia, and Ajax all interested according to Tuttomercato.

Pablo Cavallero, Velez’s technical secretary, admitted there have been enquiries for Almada.

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He told TNT Sports: “Yes, there are calls. We have received some from club intermediaries, but they are only questions. The difficulty [of selling] or not depends on the offers that come in when the market opens.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could have an advantage, however. The man who gave Almada his debut at age 17 was former Red Devils right-back Gabriel Heinze, who was manager of Velez at the time.

It was Heinze who played the midfielder in a wide position within a 4-3-3 formation, helping him to develop his game.

And with Almada having been aware of interest in him from across the Atlantic ocean, his former manager will no doubt have had positive things to say about a career at Old Trafford, where Heinze won the 2006/7 Premier League title.

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Jose Mourinho tipped to end Tottenham star’s exile following key injury

Jose Mourinho will give Tottenham outcast Davinson Sanchez the opportunity to prove himself following Toby Alderweireld’s latest setback, former Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson believes.

Belgium international Alderweireld suffered a groin injury in Tottenham’s 2-0 victory over Manchester City this past week, a win which saw the north Londoners move to the summit of the Premier League table.

Alderweireld will miss Spurs’ upcoming matches with Ludogorets and Chelsea, with the 31-year-old expected to be on the sidelines for at least the next two weeks.

Wales international Joe Rodon came on in place of the injured Alderweireld and impressed in his second Premier League outing.

But Robinson is expecting Mourinho to play the experienced Sanchez in Spurs’ next two matches.

JUST IN: Tottenham receive major injury blow ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal

I suspect that Sanchez will be given another opportunity over the next few weeks and it will be a big chance for him

Paul Robinson

“Jose Mourinho has an abundance of talent to choose from,” the former Tottenham and Leeds keeper told Football Insider.

“Joe Rodon is clearly ahead of Davinson Sanchez in the pecking order at the moment but Sanchez will get his chance again at some point as a result of the injury to Toby.

“It looks like Toby will be sidelined for a few weeks or a month or so. I think Rodon will come in but the whole squad will have to be utilised over the festive period.

“I suspect that Sanchez will be given another opportunity over the next few weeks and it will be a big chance for him.

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“He has been frozen out. He has not been making the squads but this is his opportunity to show the manager that he has a future at Spurs.”

Mourinho has cofidence in Rodon’s ability to play at the highest level but intends to play Sanchez ahead of him for Thursday’s visit of Ludogorets.

“To play regularly in the Championship I think it gives a player of quality a certain level of intensity and experience to allow players to be good players.

“We have Davinson for tomorrow night and then Davinson and Joe for Sunday.”

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Man United fans notice Bruno Fernandes moment just before giving pen to Marcus Rashford

Bruno Fernandes further endeared himself to Manchester United fans in their Champions League clash with Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday night – but it wasn’t because of his goalscoring exploits. United ran out 4-1 winners in their Group E match with the Turkish giants, which saw them avenge the 2-1 loss they suffered in Istanbul a three weeks ago.

As has been the case on numerous occasions during his ten months at Old Trafford, Fernandes was the star of the show for the Red Devils.

The Portuguese bagged a first-half brace in United’s rout of the Turkish champions, the first of which was a stunning half-volley from just outside the box.

But it was his actions 15 minutes later which really warmed the hearts of United fans.

Fernandes showcased his team mentality in the 34th minute when he relinquished the opportunity to bag a hat-trick from the penalty spot, handing the spot-kick over to Marcus Rashford.

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The England international made no mistake from 12 yards out, firing United into a three-goal Leed.

Fernandes’ act of kindness thrilled many of the Old Trafford faithful, some of whom paid close attention to his demeanour before handing Rashford the opportunity to open his account for the night.

“I think this is what defies being a ‘born leader’ for me,” one United fan said. “Bruno is currently in the form of his life. That penalty was his to take as it always is and then he goes and gives it to Rashy.”

“Bruno is pure class,” another said. “The team scoring is more important than a hat trick. What a winner. That’s the mentality we had been lacking. Glory glory.”

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“As he said, it’s not about personal records,” another Red Devil supporter said. “It’s the team that should win. Can’t love this guy more.”

Fernandes discussed his act of kindness during his post-match interview, insisting he didn’t give Rashford the spot-kick because he was feeling charitable.

“No, that wasn’t the point,” the former Sporting Lisbon man said.

“Every player wants to do a hat-trick, you know, but after the game in the Premier League [against West Brom] I told Rashy the next one he will take so I remembered that.

“And also because Rashy is one of the top scorers in the Champions League I think it will be important for him to keep going there and take on that confidence.

“As I said, it doesn’t matter who takes the penalty, the most important thing is scoring and the team scores. When the team scores, I score.”

Manchester United will be back in action on Sunday afternoon, travelling to St Mary’s to take on Southampton.

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Man Utd sent January transfer warning as Eduardo Camavinga problem noted in Chelsea loss

Manchester United are being strongly linked with a move for Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, but his performance against Chelsea raised some concerns for Rob Green. Camavinga has attracted plenty of interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs, with Real Madrid also said to be interested.

The teenager recently made his international debut for France, becoming the youngest player to represent his country in more than 100 years.

Reports have suggested that United see Camavinga as a potential replacement for Paul Pogba.

Rennes know they face a tough battle to keep hold of the 18-year-old with just under two years left on his contract.

He played against Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday night and showed some glimpses of his talent.

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However, Green noticed that Camavinga has a lot to learn, comparing him to Rennes team-mate Nzonzi.

“Eduardo Camavinga is neat and tidy on the ball but he takes a lot of touches in the midfield,” Green said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Which is fine when it’s around the opponents box but when it’s around your own area you need to just get it and move it on.

“You’re not moving the opposition if you’re taking a lot of touches.

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“Compare that to Steven Nzonzi who’s next to him who just gets it and gives it.”

While Camavinga is well aware of interest from elsewhere, he insists he’s in no rush to leave Rennes.

“The great clubs make me dream, but I cannot name one in particular for my future,” he said.

“We’ll see [about a new deal at Rennes].

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“We haven’t set a date to discuss my future, I’m in no rush about it.

“There will be negotiations to keep me here.

“It would be a pleasure for me to continue at Rennes.

“I still have two years left on my contract and we have enough time to talk about it.”

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Rio Ferdinand sums up Liverpool’s Diogo Jota transfer and sends message to Michael Edwards

Rio Ferdinand has hailed Liverpool’s capture of Diogo Jota – saying transfer guru Michael Edwards had given the club ‘a phenomenal signing’. Jota scored his eighth goal in 12 games for Jurgen Klopp’s side when he netted in the 3-0 Premier League win over Leicester City on Sunday.

Jota’s £41million move to Anfield in the summer transfer window was something of a surprise signing, with far more speculation having centred around his Wolves team-mate Adama Traore.

But Reds sporting director Edwards had tracked him under the radar, with the 23-year-old having been scoured extensively before his September switch to the Premier League champions.

The astute move is certainly paying off so far – with Jota having scored four goals in the Premier League and four in the Champions League ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Atalanta.

And while Jota was seemingly brought in as back-up for Liverpool’s fearsome frontline of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, the Portuguese star’s form is making him almost undroppable for manager Jurgen Klopp.

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“You’ve got to give time up for this man, Diogo Jota has come in and four goals in his first four starts for Liverpool [in the Premier League],” Ferdinand said on Rio Ferdinand presents FIVE.

The former Manchester United defender hailed the work being done by sporting director Edwards and his recruitment department – who have had huge success with previous captures such as Salah and Andy Robertson becoming world beaters.

“The recruitment at Liverpool, what they’ve done to get him [Jota] so far what he’s producing is fully justified,” said Ferdinand.

“Not many people were sitting there going, ‘Let’s get Jota’ but what he’s saying to Klopp is, ‘You can’t afford to drop me, I’m banging in goals week in week out’.

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“That’s what you want at a top club – you want players coming in and having an impact immediately, saying to other players, ‘Yeah you guys are great, I watched you last season, but I’m here to raise the bar’.

“That’s what he seems to be doing. He’s been nothing short of a phenomenal signing.”

Ferdinand hailed the manner of Liverpool’s victory over Leicester, who had been top of the Premier League table heading into the weekend.

Klopp’s side were missing several first-team stars including Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson, but still managed a convincing win.

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“You see all the pundits, the fans, the media saying, ‘Liverpool are struggling, they’re going to be on their knees, they’ve lost Van Dijk, Trent is out, Mo Salah is out injured, they’re playing against a Leicester side in form, top of the league, Brendan [Rodgers] has got them firing,” Ferdinand said.

“Liverpool come out and absolutely slap Leicester off the pitch, backhand, forehand, crash, bang, wallop, goodnight, 3-0 absolutely convincing.”

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp agrees with Ronaldinho about Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli

Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli is stepping up his recovery from injury, with a return to first team action moving ever closer. The Brazilian teenager has been sidelined since late-June when he suffered a left knee injury during a training session.

The Gunners originally confirmed that Martinelli underwent successful surgery and would hopefully return to action before the end of 2020.

Martinelli’s recovery has been on schedule, with the forward seen running outside, as well as undergoing a daily strengthening and recovery programme at their London Colney training ground.

Arsenal say he has been involved in group sessions and is aiming to return to full training over the next two weeks.

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“I’m feeling very well, I’m regaining confidence and I can feel my knee is better,” he previously told the Arsenal website.

“After an injury like this you are kind of scared to force the knee again but the past couple of weeks it has been fine and soon I can start training with the ball.”

Martinelli’s imminent return to the first team set-up will serve as a huge boost to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, whose side have struggled to score in recent games. 

A goalless draw against Leeds United on Sunday followed on from the 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa before the international break. 

The Gunners have struggled to create clear cut goalscoring chances, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang either isolated on the left wing, or staved of service when he does play through the middle – such as at Elland Road at the weekend. 

But Martinelli, who made a huge impression during his debut campaign last year – hitting double figures for goals – will bolster Arsenal’s attacking options ahead of the busy Christmas schedule. 

And someone who has already delivered his verdict on the talented teenage striker is none other than Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds boss witnessed at first hand just how special Martinelli is during last season’s League Cup clash, and tipped the Gunners star for a bright future.

“It was not in this game only. I watch a lot of football, so I saw the Europa League games of Arsenal,” Klopp told Brazilian TV channel Esporte Interativo last season.

“He’s 18 years old, right? So our scouting department is all over the world and stuff like this, but I think Edu gets all the credit for that signing – he came from… wherever.

“He’s really unbelievable. So young, looks so mature already, is a proper threat. Yeah, he looks like a really decent player.

“But I didn’t want to put any backpack [pressure] on his back with this thing [his earlier remarks] but I just really like good football players and obviously he’s a very good one.”

Brazil and Barcelona legend Ronaldinho was similarly full of praise for his compatriot. 

“We as Brazilians are very excited about him and his future,” Ronaldinho told the Mirror last season.

“It is one thing to have the talent – but another at the age of 18 to have the confidence.

“He reminds me of Ronaldo his first season in Europe, he scored 30 goals and people were thinking: ‘who is this 18 year old Brazilian kid?’

“He wanted the ball, he would run at players, there was no fear no matter what players or team he was playing against – and I see that similar attitude in Martinelli.

“He just wants to be on the ball and score goals.

“Ronaldo went on to be the best player in the world – and that can also be the aim of Martinelli.”

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Rashford, Pogba, Shaw: Latest Man Utd injury news and return dates ahead of Basaksehir

Manchester United will be seeking revenge when they take on Istanbul Basaksehir at Old Trafford tonight. The Red Devils were given a reality check by their Group H opponents in Istanbul at the beginning of November and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will need to bounce back in style if they are to remain on course for top spot.

United marked their return from the international break with a 1-0 win over West Brom at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Bruno Fernandes’ retaken penalty was enough to earn all three points but the Baggies felt aggrieved after having a penalty of their own overturned by referee David Coote.

United were without the likes of Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Mason Greenwood and more against West Brom and Solskjaer will be keen to get all of his injured players back fit as quickly as possible.

Express Sport is on hand to provide the latest Manchester United injury updates ahead of the clash with Basaksehir.

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Paul Pogba

The Frenchman missed the win over West Brom with an ankle injury, which was aggravated while away on international duty.

Solskjaer is optimistic he will be back available for tomorrow’s match, as he eyes a rare start.

“We hope he’s going to be available,” Solskjaer said of Pogba on Monday. “He trained this morning, see if there’s any reaction when we report tomorrow.”

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Luke Shaw

Shaw will miss the match with the Turkish Super Lig side with a hamstring injury picked up in the 3-1 win over Everton.

He was expected to mis around four weeks of action, so this game will come too soon for him.

Solskjaer said: “I hope nearer to four (weeks out for Shaw) but with a recurrence of hamstring injuries you can’t risk anything and he’s still not training with us, we’ll see how he reacts to the programme he’s on and to the rehab work. Hopefully near four but probably nearer five or six.”

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Mason Greenwood

Greenwood is expected to return against Basaksehir, after a spell on the sidelines with illness.

He was tipped to play against West Brom but once again, he was absent from the match day squad.

Solskjaer said on Greenwood last Friday: “Of course the headlines are going to be there about him when he scores, (or) if he doesn’t play.

“Everyone’s allowed to not be well and if you’re not well, you can’t train. He’s now stayed away, he’s been away eight or nine days from training. We’re just starting building him up again.”

Others

Eric Bailly 

The Ivorian is hoping to make his return tomorrow after picking up a problem while away on international duty.

Jesse Lingard 

The attacking midfielder is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

“Jesse is still self-isolating after being in contact with a positive case,” Solskjaer said. “And there are one or two little things we need to look at in the morning but hopefully everyone else is available.”

Phil Jones 

Solskjaer previously stated that Jones was expected to return to full fitness in December after a hefty lay off with a knee injury.

Either way, he remains excluded from United’s Premier League and Champions League squad.

Marcus Rashford

The England striker was fit enough to start against West Brom, after withdrawing from international duty the previous week. He was taken off in the 79th minute, but this was a tactical decision, and he is available for selection against Istanbul Basaksehir. 

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How the Arsenal dressing room reacted to Nicolas Pepe’s red card against Leeds

Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal players were reportedly fuming at Nicolas Pepe’s red card against Leeds United. The club-record £72million signing faces a three-game ban after his headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski as the Gunners returned to Premier League action with a 0-0 draw against Marcelo Bielsa’s side on Sunday.

Pepe will miss games against Tottenham, Wolves and Burnley following his send-off at Elland Road.

However, there is a growing feeling that his moment of madness may cost him more than that, after his dismissal left Arsenal holding on for a point against Leeds.

Gunners boss Arteta is expected to target attacking midfielders Dominik Szoboszlai and Houssem Aouar when the transfer window re-opens in January – and could have a decision to make on Pepe if his performances don’t improve.

The winger has struggled to make an impression on the Premier League since his big-money move from Lille in the summer of last year, and on Sunday he was making just his second top-flight start of the season.

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Arteta does not appear to place that much trust in Pepe, tending to prefer to the more experienced Willian – and it could now be a long way back into the manager’s first-team plans for the Ivorian.

The manager and his players were ‘furious’ with Pepe after his red card almost cost Arsenal the game against Leeds, according to Football London.

And Arteta has spoken about the incident, describing Pepe’s actions as “unacceptable” – while praising the rest of his players for the character shown after they went down to 10 men.

“It is unacceptable,” said the Gunners boss. “Unacceptable. At this level you cannot do it.

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“With 10 men it is a big disadvantage.

“I really liked the personality of the team when Pepe let the team down, how we stuck to do what we had to do and had a moment or two to win the game, but obviously it makes it really difficult.”

Pepe’s agent Samir Khiat has claimed that Pepe’s club-record fee has proved to be a burden for the winger, who in his view remains one of Arsenal’s best-attacking players.

Khiat told L’Equipe: “Nicolas did well at Lille. We are always expecting more from Nicolas Pepe which is normal because he has been transferred to Arsenal for a consequent transfer fee.

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“When you look at the chances created by Arsenal for the past two seasons, Pepe has been the attacking player who created most of the chances with Aubameyang.

“He is still adapting and he is requested to perform better, which is normal, he has been transferred for an important fee and he knows it.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal released a statement in support of Pepe and Leeds star Alioski, after the pair were subjected to online abuse following their heated clash.

The Gunners tweeted: “We utterly condemn the vile abuse directed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following our match against Leeds United.

“This is completely unacceptable and we will be working with the police and authorities to do everything we can to trace and prosecute the culprits.”

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Liverpool star Firmino tipped for secret goal target as Salah, Mane, Jota challenge set

Troy Deeney believes Roberto Firmino remains one of the best strikers in the Premier League and the Watford captain claims the Liverpool striker is well aware he has to score more goals. The Reds cruised to a 3-0 win over high flyers Leicester last night at Anfield as Firmino added gloss to the scoreline by heading in the third.

It was the least his performance deserved after he missed several big chances to get on the scoresheet.

After he hit the post and had one cleared off the line in the same sequence of play, it looked like another one of those frustrating evenings for Firmino.

The 29-year-old’s goals appear to have dried up in the past year after he netted just once in the Premier League at Anfield last season, despite helping the Reds end their 30-year wait for top-flight glory.

His only Anfield strike came in the final home game of the campaign against Chelsea, after much was made of the barren run in front of goal.

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While Firmino has already found the net at home this season against Sheffield United, the former Hoffenheim man is under increasing pressure to perform following the emergence of £40million signing Diogo Jota.

The Portuguese international has now scored in all four of his Premier League outings at Anfield and already has eight goals to his name for Liverpool, as he looks to cement his place in the starting XI.

According to Deeney, Firmino’s place in the side is not under threat but he does claim that the false-nine needs to add more goals to his game, something the forward will be well aware of.

He told talkSPORT Breakfast: “I said it before, I got pelters for saying that I still think he’s one of the best No 9s in the league.

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“There’s not many players that can link the play like him and look what you’ve got coming in behind him. Especially with Jota coming in as well.

“I think he’s needed and you look at Klopp trying to play around and get him in, even as a No 10 at times, shows how important he is to that team.

“He will know he has to score more goals. You can’t have [Mohamed] Salah, [Sadio] Mane and Jota all scoring goals.

“Even if the team is winning, you want to be the one scoring all the goals. That’s the reason you play as a striker.

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“He’ll be happy that the team is winning but there will be a certain part of him that says, ‘right, I need to get up to 15-20 goals’.”

After the win over the Foxes, Liverpool boss Klopp paid tribute to his No 9 for getting the goal he richly deserved.

“We were really happy and relieved. He deserved it so much. He played a super game, he played a super game and was so important for us again,” Klopp said.

“You could see in the face of all the players when he scored that everybody thought, ‘Yes, exactly the right goalscorer’.”

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