London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hailed Luis Diaz’s dynamic Premier League debut as one of the best he has seen from a new player.
Klopp beat Tottenham in the race to sign Diaz from Porto for £37.5 million ($50 million) during the January transfer window.
The Colombia forward has made an instant impact in his first two appearances, coming off the bench against Cardiff in the FA Cup before starting in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Leicester in the Premier League.
Klopp is well aware there is usually an adaptation period for players coming to the Premier League for the first time, but the German likes what he has seen from the 25-year-old so far.
“It was his first game and was probably one of the best I saw from a new player, that’s true, because he looked completely natural,” Klopp said on Friday.
“But it was only a first game and we have to see how he adapts to working with intensity and all these kind of things in the Premier League. There is no rush.
“Last night was a very good opportunity to start him because of Sadio not being here yet and Mo (Salah) coming back from an incredibly tense (AFCON) tournament. And yes, he showed up.”
With Senegal forward Sadio Mane now back with the squad after returning from his success at the African Cup of Nations, Diaz faces a fight to retain his place.
– ‘High-flying Mane’ –
Klopp also has Mohamed Salah available to start at Burnley on Sunday after the Egypt forward came on as a substitute against Leicester in his first appearance since his country’s loss in the African Cup of Nations final.
“Sadio will be available. He will come now this morning for training and will be in full training. We make a decision after that on how he feels,” Klopp said.
“Emotionally he will still be high flying but physically we have to see how intense it was for him the last few days.”
Liverpool are nine points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand in the Premier League title race.
They are also in the hunt for Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup silverware this term.
With so many matches to come, Klopp is relieved he has such strength in depth both in attack and defence.
“It didn’t happen a lot that we have this kind of quality players and they couldn’t make the squad. It’s good to have options with the quality they have,” Klopp said.
“We have a chat group where we share all information around the team and in this group the players who were not available or whatever always send a message saying ‘Good luck boys’ or whatever. And we had times when we had 13 or 14 players texting, which means they were not available for us.
“Now we have a different situation. But I’ve said it before, it’s more important how we play than who is playing.
“The situation is not easy to be a star in the team but it is not allowed to cost you confidence, thinking ‘I might play today but not tomorrow’.”
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