MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - Wednesday, December 13, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a press conference at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 6 game between Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and Liverpool FC. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp’s praise for “really interesting” striker with 14 goals, 7 assists in 21 games

Jurgen Klopp has seemingly been doing his homework on Bayer Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface, describing the 14-goal striker as “really interesting” this week.

The fortunes of Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen this season have been particularly interesting for those on Merseyside, amid suggestions he could eventually succeed Klopp.

But the Liverpool manager may have been watching Alonso’s side for another reason, having referenced the form of 22-year-old Boniface in his pre-Union SG press conference.

The Nigeria international left Union SG for the Bundesliga in July, and has so far scored 14 goals and laid on seven assists in 21 games this season.

Only three players – Harry Kane, Serhou Guirassy and Leroy Sane – have had a hand in more goals in the Bundesliga than Boniface, who has helped fire Leverkusen to an unbeaten start and top of the table.

“Good team. Lost good players and got a good team together again,” was Klopp’s verdict on Union SG before the final Europa League group game.

“Really interesting strikers [left], who are doing really impressive stuff now in other leagues.

“And doing again that well [without them] is really special. I think the way the club is set up is just really good.”

It is unclear which other striker Klopp was referring to, as he suggested two in the Bundesliga, but certainly one of those is Boniface.

His praise is interesting given the club are increasingly linked with new strikers, with sources in Germany claiming Hoffenheim’s Maximilian Beier is a target.

Boniface, who turns 23 later in December, could suit the profile being targeted, not only given his age but his speed, physicality, work ethic and record in front of goal.

This time he stopped short of explicitly naming the player in question, but if Liverpool were to pursue Boniface it would not be the first time Klopp has praised a potential signing in public.

Darwin Nunez and Alexis Mac Allister were both name-checked in press conferences prior to their moves to Anfield, for example.

If Boniface were to leave Leverkusen for Liverpool, it would likely require a change elsewhere in Klopp’s forward ranks.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is, of course, the looming threat of Mohamed Salah departing the club, with his contract due to expire in 2025 and serious interest from Saudi Arabia.

But links between Luis Diaz and Barcelona could be noted, too, with the No. 7’s father admitting last month that “it would be his dream to go there.”

Neither play in Boniface’s natural position, though Cody Gakpo, for example, arrived as a natural left winger only to play the majority of his football up front or in midfield.