Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he will not allow Daniel Sturridge — or any other first-team player — to leave in January.
The England international, not available for a third straight match because of a calf strain, has found his chances limited this season and that has led to continued speculation about his future at the club. However, Klopp is adamant he will not be offloading anyone when the transfer window opens, with his side busy mounting a title challenge.
“I think you and your colleagues create stories which are not stories and then you ask me about a story which is not a story,” said Klopp when asked about the latest speculation linking Sturridge with West Ham.
“There is absolutely no thought to sell any player from the first-team squad. I don’t think it would make sense. Unfortunately Daniel is not in training now and that is what I am more concerned about than any transfer rumours — but I am prepared for everything you could ask me in January.”
The emergence of a number of academy graduates has helped Klopp bolster his squad and rest a number of his key players, like in the EFL Cup win over Leeds for which he made eight changes.
Ben Woodburn’s goal on that night has offered hope that the impact of the short-term losses of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho and the longer-term absence of Danny Ings will be lessened.
It will not stop Klopp buying in January if he feels there is an area which needs strengthening but it also does not mean he will not continue to give the youngsters a chance.
“We don’t have to change anything because we have a few of them who are involved in our plans,” he added. “We have to buy players and hopefully some players come through, that’s how it is.
“We have a lot of these boys in the club and it is up to us to create a situation where they can come through when they are ready and we can use them. There will be a few ups and downs for sure but as long as you are in the right circumstances and the right club then I would say everything would be good at the end.”
Klopp has been impressed with the progress of the likes of Kevin Stewart, 23, Ovie Ejaria, 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold, 18, and Woodburn, 17.
It has been a long time since the club’s academy has produced the number of potential first-team players it currently is doing and the long-term plan is for that to become the norm rather than the exception.
“If the team for 2020 is only home-grown players it would be nice but not nice for players in the actual squad (now) who are still at a good age. There needs to be a mixture,” said the German.
“We have no doubt about the potential of these players: a lot of training, education and attitude and you can get a decent player and that is what we are all working on.
“I think we are 100 per cent the right club for really young boys to develop, to improve and to be the best players they can be.
“They have time but they need the time too. It is our job to give them the time they need. “They have to make their experiences: the better ones, the not-so-nice ones but at the end they have to perform on the pitch.
“We can only give advice and when we think they are ready we do it but still they have to deliver. If they deliver it is all fine, if not then we are responsible for it.”
The 36-year-old Scot has been confirmed as the successor to Karl Robinson at the Sky Bet League One club after leaving Hearts, and will officially take charge following today’s FA Cup second-round match at Charlton.
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