Jurgen Klopp has backed his latest Liverpool captain Joe Allen and claimed there is “no doubt about his quality”.
Allen has featured in 20 games for the Reds this season and recent good form was rewarded on Saturday when he became the seventh different player to be named captain by boss Klopp.
The 25-year-old is in the final 18 months of his Anfield contract and last month he admitted it had “gone very quiet” regarding talks over a contract extension.
Stoke, Southampton, Leicester and more recently his old club Swansea have been interested in Allen with Liverpool reportedly rejecting the Swans approach for their former player two weeks ago.
Klopp though appears keen on Allen, despite only starting him in one Premier League game since his arrival at Anfield in October.
“For me Joe Allen was always a first-team player. He was not in the line-up a few times, that’s true,” said Klopp.
“There is no doubt about his quality.
“Now he is 100 percent in shape. It’s the next transfer for us.
“I like his style and he showed what he’s capable of doing. He was always in (the first-team), but he wasn’t always fit.”
Allen, who arrived from Swansea for £15million in 2012, recently said discussions with Ian Ayre over extending his deal had not been forthcoming.
“It’s gone very quiet. I’m not too sure really. ‘I want to play more. I think that’s obvious for any player in that situation,” he said last month.
“From my point of view, it’s just about knuckling down, doing my job and giving my best, which is always what I do.”
Allen, who scored the last-gasp equaliser against Arsenal last month, admitted his “surprise” at being named captain by Klopp for Saturday’s goalless draw with West Ham in the FA Cup after recently talking about the fierce competition at Anfield.
“It’s been a tough season,” Allen said last month
“The competition is as fierce as ever. But any opportunity I get that’s exactly what I’ve got to try to do.
“There’s been some good moments in the last few games, so I’m hoping to use it as a springboard to force my way back into the reckoning for more games.”