After Luis Diaz came on against Leeds, for his first appearance in over six months, Jurgen Klopp gave an update on his reintegration into the team.
Seeing Diaz back on the pitch was a great way to round off a successful night for Liverpool, who beat Leeds 6-1 at Elland Road.
The Colombian came off the bench in the 81st minute, replacing Cody Gakpo, and showed signs of his old self – having been arguably Liverpool’s best player before getting injured in October.
It could be some time before we see Diaz back to his real best, though.
In his post-match press conference, Klopp admitted that the winger is “lacking rhythm” and “a bit of sharpness,” but that this “is normal.”
He also emphasised the importance of getting real game time, explaining that “in training sessions, you cannot get there to the final degree of sharpness.”
The manager added that Liverpool must “now try to just help him getting step-by-step back really into the team,” by “giving him minutes.”
When Diaz came on at 5-1 up, he went out to play on the right wing, a position the No. 23 isn’t used to having spent most of his career playing off the left.
This has suited the attacker as it allows him to cut inside onto his stronger right foot.
However, with the emergence of Darwin Nunez as a threat from the left, and Gakpo taking Roberto Firmino‘s central position, Diaz has become a contender to succeed Mo Salah on the right.
It also gives Liverpool the option to rest Salah, who has rarely missed a match since arriving on Merseyside in 2017.
Whatever position he plays, supporters are just happy to see him on the pitch – and Klopp feels the same.
The German said: “He’s super important.”
“It’s just nice to see him play, to be honest,” the manager added. “We’ve missed him so long, it’s just nice to see him being involved again.”
The next chance for Diaz to get minutes is against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Klopp will likely withhold him from the starting XI again, but will hope he can bring him on in similarly comfortable circumstances.