Firmino’s favourite role, Awoniyi’s plan & Karius’ future – Wednesday’s Liverpool FC News Roundup

We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Wednesday, as preparations begin for Sunday’s clash with Burnley at Anfield.

Today’s Main Headlines

Firmino Wants to Stay as No. 9

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 3, 2019: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the Etihad Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Roberto Firmino has played the finest football of his Liverpool career in the No. 9 role, becoming one of the best in Europe in his position.

In an interview with Eight by Eight magazine, the Brazilian discussed his versatility, admitting he is now occupying his favourite position:

“I was a midfielder, though for a while I even played as a central defender.

“But whenever I got the ball, I would start to dribble and to nutmeg people and join the attack. So every year I evolved a little bit further forward up the pitch.

“Once I got to the U17s, I became a No. 10, which was the position I held up until recently—when I established myself as a centre-forward.

“It was Klopp’s idea to fix me as a No. 9. But I accepted this role and adapted to it.

“Now I want to continue in this position until the end of my career.”

Firmino has epitomised the Jurgen Klopp era in many ways, with his technical expertise and relentless work rate helping make Liverpool a European powerhouse again.

Although he has been utilised as a No. 10 at times this season, having him leading the line is the way forward.

Dutch Duo Called Up

Virgil van Dijk of Holland during the UEFA Nations League A group 1 qualifying match between The Netherlands and Germany at the Johan Cruijff Arena on October 13, 2018 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Tom Bode/VI Images/PA Images)

Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum have been named in the Netherlands’ 30-man provisional squad for their upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Belarus (March 21) and Germany (March 24).

The Liverpool pair have become two of their country’s key players, with Van Dijk captaining the side and Wijnaldum a vital part of the midfield.

Also named are former Reds winger Ryan Babel, now at Fulham, and highly rated Ajax skipper Matthijs de Ligt, who has been loosely linked with a move to Anfield in the past.

His stock rose further on Tuesday evening, as Ajax pulled off a stunning 4-1 win at Real Madrid, knocking the holders out of the Champions League 5-3 on aggregate.

Pochettino Banned for Anfield Tie

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Monday, April 18, 2016: Tottenham Hotspur's manager Mauricio Pochettino before the FA Premier League match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mauricio Pochettino will have to watch Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Tottenham later this month from the stands, having received a two-match touchline ban from the FA.

The Argentine was also fined £10,000, after confronting referee Mike Dean following Spurs’ 2-1 loss at Burnley on February 23.

The Reds host the north Londoners on March 31, in what is likely to be one of the most pivotal remaining fixtures in the title race.

Liverpool need every little boost that they can in the run-in—Pochettino not being able to dictate matters from the dugout is an undoubted positive.

Awoniyi Wants Reds Future

Mouscron's Taiwo Awoniyi celebrates after scoring during a soccer game between Standard de Liege and Royal Excel Mouscron, Saturday 02 March 2019 in Liege, on the 28th day of the 'Jupiler Pro League' Belgian soccer championship season 2018-2019. BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY

Taiwo Awoniyi is thriving at Royal Excel Mouscron this season, scoring six goals and registering two assists in seven appearances for the Belgian side.

The youngster has been speaking to Sport/Foot about his future, saying he hopes to eventually settle at Liverpool, after a nomadic period that has included spells at Eintracht Frankfurt, NEC Nijmegen, KAA Gent and Mouscron:

“Every year, you don’t only swap clubs, but countries. You also have to adapt in new places.

“It isn’t easy for you or your family. It’s hard to start from scratch every time, but that’s how it is.

“I need to continue to fight for my future. That’s what keeps me going.

“If I work enough, I’ll be able to find a place where I can stay, settle down and I hope it will be in England.”

Awoniyi signed a new five-year contract with the Reds in the summer, but has been linked with a £12.9 million move to Schalke this week.

Karius to Return to Germany?

Goalkeeper Loris Karius of Besiktas during the Turkish Superlig Match between Bursaspor and Besiktas at Buyuksehir Belediye Stadium in Bursa , Turkey on September 02 , 2018 (Seskimphoto/Imago/PA Images)

According to Turkish outlet Fanatik, Eintracht Frankfurt are interested in signing Loris Karius this summer.

That is dependent on whether or not Besiktas qualify for the Champions League, but the German is keen to move on due to their financial problems not allowing the club to pay him regularly.

Karius is currently on a two-year loan deal from Liverpool, but his future almost certainly lies elsewhere, after last season’s nightmare in Kyiv.

A decision will likely be made at the end of the season.

Lewtas’ Praise for O’Rourke

ST HELENS, ENGLAND - Monday, January 21, 2019: Liverpool's captain Paul Glatzel celebrates scoring the fourth goal, completing his hat-trick, with team-mate Fidel O'Rourke, it was his third hat-trick of the season, during the FA Youth Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Accrington Stanley FC at Langtree Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Fidel O’Rourke has impressed for Liverpool’s U18s this season, despite playing second fiddle to potent strike pairing Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan.

The 17-year-old was handed the captaincy in Saturday’s 7-2 annihilation of Blackburn, in which the striker also scored twice.

Manager Barry Lewtas was full of praise for O’Rourke, ahead of Wednesday’s FA Youth Cup quarter-final clash away to Bury.

“Fidel came in against Blackburn and did ever so well. His first goal was fantastic and the second was a real striker’s goal with the tap-in,” Lewtas told the Liverpool Echo.

“Giving them the armband can be part of their development when you’re trying to get a bit more out of them.

“He epitomises what a captain needs to do. You can hear him communicating, he’s vocal, he leads, he’s aggressive, he closes down, he drives the team on with his pressing, he tracks back and he can play so he’s got the respect of the dressing room too.

“For a young first year to be able to do that shows what the kid is all about. He has earned that with his development both as a player and as a person.”

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