Jurgen Klopp admits the arrival of £75 million defender Virgil van Dijk will help “a lot” after watching Liverpool almost throw away two points at Burnley.
Leading through Sadio Mane‘s brilliant second-half strike, the Reds conceded an 87th-minute equaliser when substitute Sam Vokes flicked on a cross for Johann Berg Gudmundsson to nod in unmarked from three yards.
However, Ragnar Klavan—one of the players most under threat after Van Dijk’s arrival was officially confirmed on Monday—was the unlikely match-winner when he popped up at the far post to nod in from close range.
“I was never in doubt about the character of my boys,” said Klopp.
“I never thought we had a defence problem or thought we need an extra player though Virgil will help us a lot.
“We are fourth in the table, absolutely OK. We need to keep the distance not bigger to the teams ahead of us, if we can make it smaller then it is better.”
With three of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ absent—top scorer Mohamed Salah (groin) and Philippe Coutinho (groin) injured and Roberto Firmino rested—more responsibility was placed on Mane and he delivered.
It was only his second league goal since August but despite injury worries over two of his star players Klopp is happy to allow the Senegal international—and Salah—to fly Ghana for the Confederation of African Football Player of the Year awards on Thursday, 24 hours before a Merseyside derby FA Cup tie at home to Everton.
“We have everything organised. We have two of the three best African players in our squad,” added Klopp.
“We have to show them respect. If it had been a matchday they wouldn’t have asked. We sleep in a hotel, they sleep in a plane. That is all the difference.
“If Mo is not fit, it will not be for that. For our side, it is just a sign of respect.
“I had [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang [at Borussia Dortmund] and there is nothing more important than to go there.
“Sadio is unbelievably important for us. He is strong, quick, so many things. He scores a goal like this and it is like ‘Wow’.
“He comes into the dressing room and the whole team gives him a hand. We need him, we need him so much for all teams coming.
“I am happy because I had a lot of players with moments where it wasn’t clicking and he still scores.”
Clarets boss Sean Dyche was disappointed, having got back into the game so late, his side could not hold on.
“I thought we had done enough to earn another point,” he said.
“We’re so frustrated with a soft goal right at the end but impressed with the mentality.
|Superb physically, tactically very good—particularly defensively—and there is so much to be pleased with. But we’re left with that horrible feeling.”