Premier League • England

Klopp confirms Liverpool decision on January midfield deal; claims ’embarrassed’ star is primed to become ‘incredible’ weapon

Darwin Nunez and Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp gave the clearest indication yet what the future holds for Arthur Melo, and outlined what an “embarrassed” new signing must do to realise his true potential.

For the longest time during the summer it appeared Liverpool would not add to their midfield ranks. Fabio Carvalho did arrive from Fulham, though he primarily played further forward with the Cottagers.

Calls for Jude Bellingham grew, especially after Liverpool started the season in poor form. However, Klopp repeatedly suggested the Reds would only sign the right man, not just any man.

An injury crisis ultimately forced Liverpool’s hand when signing Arthur Melo on loan from Juventus.

The Brazilian should be in the prime of his career, though despite only being 26, is fighting a losing battle against persistent injury issues.

Arthur played just once for the Reds before suffering a serious thigh injury that’s ruled him out until after the World Cup.

His latest trip to the treatment room has sparked speculation Liverpool could cut the loan deal short in January. However, speaking on a press conference on Friday, Klopp suggested that won’t be the case.

Arthur Melo decision

“A serious injury,” admitted Klopp when providing an update on the loanee (via the Liverpool Echo).

“He’s here. It’s a long-term injury and when he’s back, we’ll think about it again.

“But at the moment, it’s too far away. No [we won’t cut the loan in January].”

After seeing off Ajax to book their place in the Champions League knockout rounds on Wednesday, Liverpool’s attention now shifts back to the domestic scene.

The Reds host Leeds Utd at Anfield on Saturday night, and despite losing each of their last three, Klopp has seen enough from the Whites to know they won’t be a walkover at the weekend.

“For different reasons, I didn’t think of the general situation of the league,” Klopp said of Leeds’ decent performances not resulting in points.

“But I saw Leeds now, I saw the last three games and there was a massive difference between the performances they put in and the results.”

Liverpool will welcome back a host of familiar faces for the contest on Merseyside.

Liverpool injury update

“I expect Jordan Henderson to be okay,” added Klopp. “Thiago will return too.

“It’s still soon for Naby Keita and Matip is still out. You don’t have to ask about Diogo [Jota] or Luis [Diaz] for a while.”

On Ibrahima Konate, Klopp continued: “Yes, I would say the Ajax game, we didn’t have more subs so we could take him with us.

“But he was not really ready for this game. In a very serious situation in the last five minutes maybe, but he’s available now [to face Leeds].”

Finally, Klopp spoke glowingly about new recruit Darwin Nunez.

A dubious start to life in England has produced unparalleled levels of criticism. Nunez did little to quieten the voices when seeing red against Crystal Palace on August 15 after head-butting Joachim Andersen.

Former Reds favourite, Luis Suarez, has given Nunez a sound piece of advice since that day. From those of a Liverpool persuasion at least, Nunez has unrelenting support.

Klopp defended his new striker when detailing the early challenges he faced. He also outlined what the Uruguayan must do to realise his “incredible” potential.

Darwin Nunez ready to be unleashed

“Darwin came here after a short break, flew straight to Asia, didn’t speak English, new team, and the price – and then everyone judges straight away,” said Klopp.

“He started well, scored versus Man City [Community Shield] and Fulham, then got the red card [against Palace]. He was embarrassed, his confidence was knocked.”

Nunez’s October has shown a clearer indication of what the ex-Benfica man is capable of. Indeed, in just 377 minutes of action in the calendar month, Nunez has returned four goals (a ratio of one goal every 94 minutes).

“He’s involved in a lot, a lot of finishing moments. It was a great month for him,” added Klopp.

The German continued: “Darwin is so exciting but he has to stay fit and be available all the time.

“We work on all different areas and the potential is incredible. Speed, attitude, a real worker, it’s all possible to develop and learn. It’s really exciting.”

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