Ex-Man City captain warns Klopp over handling of ‘brilliant’ Liverpool star that could ruin title challenge

Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Liverpool, September 2023

Former Manchester City captain Richard Dunne believes one “absolutely brilliant” player in particular has made Liverpool title challengers again, though revealed his “one worry” for the star.

Liverpool enter Saturday’s top of the table clash with Manchester City in the knowledge a victory will see them become the new pace-setters in the Premier League.

City and Liverpool are one and two at present and after a down year last term, The Reds once again look genuine title challengers.

Key to Liverpool’s resurgence is unquestionably their midfield rebuild in the off-season.

Liverpool waved goodbye to five established midfielders, with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner all making way.

Replacing them were Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo.

Of the quartet it’s Szoboszlai who has made the biggest impact thus far. The livewire Hungarian cost £60m to sign from RB Leipzig via a release clause and has quickly earned rave reviews for his pressing, vision and long-range shooting.

Jurgen Klopp’s side lacked energy in central areas last term and in Szoboszlai, they now have a player who’ll run hard from first minute to last.

Now, in quotes carried by The Liverpool Echo, former City captain, Richard Dunne, has heaped huge praise on The Reds midfielder.

Dunne played for City between 2000-09 and captained the side between 2006-09. Dunne labelled Szoboszlai “absolutely brilliant”, though voiced his fears over whether the Hungarian will run out of steam as the season wears on.

Liverpool are still in the League Cup and will expect to go deep into the Europa League knockout rounds post-Christmas.

As such, Liverpool could be competing for trophies on four fronts in the new year and Klopp’s handling of Szoboszlai could be key to ensuring the midfielder doesn’t fall flat what when it matters most.

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Szoboszlai turns Liverpool from top four hopefuls to title challengers

“He has been absolutely brilliant,” said Dunne. “He’s one of those players that people tune in to watch for his energy, quality and ability to score a cracker from distance.

“The one worry is whether he can maintain his intensity over the course of a whole season, but what an impact he’s made – and he’s probably changed Liverpool’s outlook on the campaign.

“Instead of just thinking about getting back in the Champions League, they’re eyeing the title and that’s thanks in part to Szoboszlai.

“He’s given belief back to the fans and the players, he’s brought the best out of [Virgil] Van Dijk and given everyone that enthusiasm which was perhaps missing last season.”

Liverpool and Szoboszlai face the ultimate test on Saturday lunchtime when facing the treble winners at The Etihad.

That contest will offer a clue as to how serious Liverpool’s title credentials are and as to how much of a masterstroke signing Szoboszlai truly was.

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