New season, new positions! Jurgen Klopp heaps praise Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after deploying him as a ‘false nine’ and Harvey Elliott for thriving in new central midfield role in Austria
- Liverpool kicked their pre-season off with two short friendlies in one evening
- The Reds faced Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart at their Austria training camp
- Jurgen Klopp opted to play Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the false nine position
- The England star excelled, as did returning starlet Harvey Elliott in midfield
The Reds kicked their pre-season off with two short friendlies in one evening, fielding two different teams against Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart respectively.
Klopp watched on as the matches played out at Liverpool’s Austria training camp, and monitored closely as Oxlade-Chamberlain filled in at the false nine position usually taken by Roberto Firmino, and youngster Harvey Elliott moved into a more central midfield berth.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain caught the eye playing false nine in Liverpool’s pre-season opener
The England star is hoping to force his way back into the regular first team set-up this year
Speaking after the short matches, which each ended as a 1-1 draw, Klopp told LFCTV: ‘I don’t think Harvey had ever played that position for us, but he looked good.
‘Ox you could see in the first few minutes immediately that it is an option, definitely. We will see how that goes on.’
With Liverpool expected to remain quiet in the transfer market this summer, Klopp has previously dropped hints that no major changes will be made to his squad.
Testing Oxlade-Chamberlain and Elliott in different roles is likely to show a sign of things to come, as the German looks to use the full depth and versatility of the first team squad.
Harvey Elliott has also been praised by Jurgen Klopp for playing in a more central position
Elliott is bidding to impress after a successful stint on loan with Blackburn Rovers last season
At present no further arrivals are expected, though Liverpool have been busy clearing out fringe players to raise funds and on Tuesday confirmed the £10.5m departure of Marko Grujic to Porto.
One man who has arrived this summer however is Ibrahima Konate, and the imposing £35million Frenchman was handed his debut appearance following his move from RB Leipzig earlier in the window.
The Frenchman put in a solid account on his first outing in the red shirt, and Klopp was pleased with what he saw.
He added: ‘Ibou [Konate] did really well and that’s what we expected, he looks really good in training.
‘First game with all the young boys, they have really showed up in training but it is different than when you play a first-team with all the kids together in the team.
A debut was handed to Ibrahima Konate, who signed from RB Leipzig for £35m in June
Jurgen Klopp watched on from the touchline as his players were put through their paces
‘It is tough, but no problem – life is tough and we have to give them the opportunity to get tested in these kinds of games. We do that and now we carry on.’
Liverpool continue their pre-season preparation when they face one of Klopp’s former teams Mainz on Friday, though the German boss has confirmed that influential defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are still unlikely to return.
Both players suffered season-ending injuries in the last campaign, and have had their comebacks painstakingly managed ever since.
Klopp added: ‘They have looked really good in training and yesterday was the first day where they did very complex things, usually it is either offensive or defensive and stuff like this.
‘We have to get there, step by step, but I don’t expect them for Friday.’