Liverpool fans have been in a state of panic this week over injuries and an apparent lack of squad depth but Jurgen Klopp might just be playing mind games with us, writes Michael Mongie.
When Manchester United were at the top of the English game, it wasn’t uncommon for Sir Alex Ferguson to play mind games in the media and he was well known for withdrawing players from international squads over injury concerns before they started for the Scotsman that same weekend.
2021 is arguably the most unprecedented time for football in a long time and with Liverpool in need of an edge after an underwhelming transfer window and in the wake of a ridiculous ban from FIFA, Jurgen Klopp could be playing mind games over the fitness of one of his most exciting players.
When the summer transfer window began, the plan was to assess Harvey Elliott and see if he needed a loan spell to continue his development but he impressed the coaching staff so much that he played his way not just into the squad but into the starting XI for the biggest game of the season.
The 18-year-old started against Chelsea before the international break and while Naby Keita will rightfully feel aggrieved at being dropped for the teenager after not putting a foot wrong in pre-season or in his first two starts this season, it speaks to how highly Klopp thinks of Elliott that he got the nod over his 26-year-old teammate.
James Pearce reports that Elliott was withdrawn from the England U21 squad as a precaution so if he starts against Leeds United this weekend it will confirm my suspicions and prove that Klopp has been playing mind games over one of his most talented players.
Fabinho is ineligible to face Marcelo Bielsa’s side after being banned by FIFA for five days after Liverpool ordered him to refuse Brazil’s call-up and so it’s safe to assume Jordan Henderson is a nailed-on starter now he is close to full fitness.
Naby Keita is back in the United Kingdom after escaping the Guinea coup on a jet and so he should be in contention to start as well but after he was dropped for Elliott it will be interesting to see if he’s restored to the side.