What Jurgen Klopp has said about ‘replacing’ Milner amid Endo reports

With Liverpool looking set to add some experience to their midfield, words from Jurgen Klopp last month could provide an insight into the job he is looking for.

The Reds are closing in on the signing of Stuttgart and Japan captain Wataru Endo in a move that would end the long wait for a defensive midfield signing.

It has been a summer of change at Anfield, with numerous senior players departing for new chapters elsewhere leaving the squad with a dearth of experienced figures.

Jordan Henderson and Fabinho both left to join the Saudi Pro League last month, but James Milner was singled out by the manager as someone who needed replacing from a leadership perspective.

Speaking ahead of July’s friendly clash with Leicester in Singapore, Klopp highlighted the “super-professional” nature in which Milner was able to help the side see out games.

“Now a lot of changes, but again, it’s not only that the new players come into the team – they are obviously in and are real quality – but it always gives opportunity as well to other players to just make the next step if the guy on the position is not there anymore,” the boss explained.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 11, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) and James Milner during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 4 game between Glasgow Rangers FC and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

“How we finished games, it was always James Milner came on, stuff like that, and finished the game pretty much for us in a super-professional way.

“In the end – the last few weeks and months – maybe he finished more of the games off. We have players for that role, younger players, and it just opens doors and that’s what we need. Yes, we as a group want to put things right.”

Milner made 332 appearances across eight seasons for the Reds, including 43 in his final campaign of which the vast majority were from the bench.

DOHA, QATAR - Sunday, November 27, 2022: Japan's Wataru Endo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Costa Rica won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His experience and professionalism were a vital part of the club’s leadership group, which has seen a signficant overhaul with the appointments of Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold as captain and vice-captain respectively.

Liverpool’s midfield has a younger, fresher look to it with the arrivals of Domink Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister, but Endo could help redress the balance from an experience perspective.

The 30-year-old would become the club’s second oldest midfielder behind Thiago (32) and may be viewed as the type of player Klopp was referring to with July’s Milner comments.