Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita must stay fit if they are to maximise their chances in his team.
The duo have enjoyed rare spells of exciting form since arriving in 2017 and 2018, respectively. While Oxlade-Chamberlain had a standout debut season in the Champions League, Keita’s best moments have come fewer and further between. As a result, neither player has truly maximised their Anfield potential.
Furthermore, this season will prove crucial in determining their futures at Liverpool. They have both entered the penultimate year of their contracts and will have one year left this summer.
Nevertheless, the duo began the new season on a strong note. They started and starred in the 3-0 win over Norwich.
Asked about how valuable the pair are to him, Klopp told reporters on Friday: “Very valuable, that’s all about being available and using the momentum and stuff like this. That’s football, it doesn’t make you a worse player or whatever.
“Without luck in life, you are really on the wrong side of a lot of things. When you get injured in the wrong moment, the football train never waits.
“So we have to be on top of that, try to keep them in the best possible shape. But the quality of the players was never in doubt, if you think about these two players and you go through the strengths they have.
“That’s a book of its own, so it’s great to have them. When you get the chance, that’s life and that’s football, you better use it.
“It will not be the last, especially not in our case. There are a lot of good football players in our squad and we will change independent of performances, just for intensity reasons.”
However, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita have also struggled due to the presence of other midfielders in Liverpool’s ranks.
Henderson, Thiago could make Liverpool returns
Ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Burnley, captain Jordan Henderson – about whose contract negotiations Klopp had no updates – and Thiago Alcantara could return.
The pair missed the opening win after their late return following Euro 2020. However, they played in a behind-closed-doors friendly win over Aston Villa this week.
Klopp said: “They are much closer. They look fine and we have to make a decision.”
Still, Fabinho – who started on the bench at Norwich – may not feature against Burnley. The Brazilian’s wife confirmed the sad passing of his father on Friday and Klopp insisted it was a “private” matter.