Jurgen Klopp named three traits Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia displayed that caught his eye against Liverpool, and the German also provided a telling assessment of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defending against the winger.
The Reds snapped Napoli’s 13-match winning streak at Anfield on Tuesday night. Luciano Spalletti’s side arrived as the form team in Europe. With both sides already assured of a place in the Round of 16 and only a thumping Liverpool win changing who’d win the group, both clubs had free reign to play with freedom.
A pair of late goals from Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez settled a close contest. Both goals had their roots in set pieces, with Nunez and Van Dijk beating their markers in the air in the build-up to both goals.
The contest also served as a showcase for Napoli’s newest sensation, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
The Georgian winger only joined Napoli last summer in a deal worth around £9m. 18 goal contributions across his first 17 matches in Italy suggest that his true valuation is far higher.
Liverpool and Tottenham have both drawn early links with making his stay in Naples a short one. Fabrizio Romano stressed Napoli won’t sell in January, though all bets are off beyond that.
Now, speaking in the aftermath of his side’s 2-0 victory, Jurgen Klopp gave his assessment of the potential future Anfield favourite.
“Cheeky” Kvaratskhelia woos Klopp
Klopp lauded the 21-year-old’s ability to go both ways as well as his acceleration and top speed. With a reperoire like that, Trent Alexander-Arnold was always going to face a tough night at right-back.
However, when assessing his full-back’s performance, Klopp insisted Trent more than held his own. In fact, the Reds boss described him as being “on fire” on the night.
For a player whose defensive abilities have come under the microscope this season, Klopp’s comments will do the right-back a world of good.
“He (Kvaratskhelia) is a good player, both are good players,” said Klopp (via the Liverpool Echo). “It was a really difficult one.
“I know people will talk about one or two situations with Trent when he tried to get in front of him and the ball goes through.
“He is really good, the boy. Really quick, we have to defend it well together in these moments. When he has the advantage of the first moment, then he is already gone.
“You have to try to be there in the moment when the ball arrives. If you cannot to do that, you need to be protected because he has speed.
“He is cheeky, he can go inside, he goes outside, that always makes him difficult. A good player.
“Trent played a really good game against him, was really on fire. Didn’t get frustrated by one or two situations where he was second-best. Stayed in the game. I liked Trent’s game tonight.”
A potential Liverpool, Tottenham transfer opening?
Kvaratskhelia’s father recently claimed he and his son are both aware of the mounting transfer speculation.
While he stressed his son is solely focused on all things Napoli right now, he did hint they already want an improved contract.
Having signed a five-year deal just last summer, Kvaratskhelia is still on the terms he penned when joining from Dinamo Batumi.
However, given he arrived from the relatively weaker Georgian league, it stands to reason the terms he agreed are no longer reflective of his growing importance to Napoli.
Whether Napoli are willing to offer a bumper new deal in 2023 could be a factor in determining what the future holds for one of Europe’s hottest properties.