2 Liverpool lineups vs. Newcastle as Ibrahima Konate gets latest chance – Liverpool FC

Ibrahima Konate is likely to be one of those to come into the side as Liverpool host Newcastle on Thursday night, with Jurgen Klopp mindful of changes for the weekend.

The Reds take on Newcastle and Tottenham in the space of four days this week, having been given a four-day break after the 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Anfield.

It will almost certainly, then, see Klopp rotate his side across the two games, and there is cause to argue that more changes can be expected against the Magpies.

Eddie Howe’s side remain in a difficult period, with only one win from their last four fixtures, sitting 19th in the Premier League and 27 points behind Liverpool.

But as Klopp will be wary of underestimating Newcastle, how could the Reds line up?

 

Team news

From Klopp’s pre-match press conference and an interview with the club’s official website, we know the following:

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Newcastle

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Andy Robertson after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With “no new injuries” to consider, Klopp finds himself in the luxury position of being able to make a number of changes while still naming a strong side.

Bar the use of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a No. 9, the manager effectively fielded his strongest possible XI against Villa at the weekend, with Jota not deemed fit enough to start.

But alterations could now be made, including a return to the starting lineup for Jota:

With three changes – Konate, Tsimikas and Jota in for Joel Matip, Andy Robertson and Thiago – Liverpool could line up like this:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Mane, Jota


The manager may opt for more consistency in his defence, however, instead looking to the League Cup quarter-final against Leicester next week as his opportunity to make more changes.

If that is the case, Robertson could be one of those retained, while Klopp has other options to consider in midfield:

  • Konate the only change in defence from Villa win
  • Naby Keita alongside Fabinho and Jordan Henderson as alternative to Ox
  • Jota the likely starter despite Firmino’s return to fitness

This could see Liverpool take to the field as below:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Mane, Jota


There could even be opportunities for the likes of Joe Gomez, Tyler Morton and Takumi Minamino at Anfield, but it seems more likely these will come in the cup.

Instead, Liverpool can be expected to go strong against both Newcastle and Tottenham, with Klopp making careful tweaks to his side to ensure freshness as the festive schedule ensues.

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Awoniyi reveals first five words Klopp said to him on arrival at Liverpool’s summer training camp


Taiwo Awoniyi has endured something of a frustratingly nomadic career prior to his permanent £6.5m switch to Union Berlin in the Bundesliga, though couldn’t help but praise former boss Jurgen Klopp despite never making a proper senior appearance for his old side.

The Nigerian explained why he felt players were so enamoured with the talismanic German after spending some time training with Liverpool at their pre-season Austrian camp.

“He said ‘What took you so long?!’” the 24-year-old told Goal.

“To be honest, I have always been thinking about working with him.

“Even when I was at FSV Frankfurt [2015] and he had not signed for Liverpool yet, my team-mates there would always say that they wanted to play under him. 

“I was wondering why, really curious as to what he would be like. Then, when he signed for Liverpool, I was thinking ‘Wow! Maybe one day I will have my opportunity to meet him.’

“And the first time I met him, I realised everything they said about him was true; the smile, the passion, everything he brings to the game.

“Most important for me, though, is the way he manages people. I think that is what people love about him.”

With the forward setting the Bundesliga alight with nine goals in 15 top-flight games, it seems a shame that he was denied an opportunity to represent the red half of Merseyside in the famous red shirt.

READ MORE: Ex-Red Taiwo Awoniyi shares what blew him away at Liverpool’s Austria training camp

It’s quite remarkable how well-received Klopp is not only by those who have had the pleasure of being coached by the 54-year-old but also those who are on the outside looking in.

Once in a generation is certainly not a description being vaguely close to over the top when rating the former Borussia Dortmund manager’s ability and importance with regard to our modern renaissance.

It does, of course, mean that replacing Jurgen once his contract runs out in 2024 will be a mammoth task for the club and sporting director Julian Ward, though one we’ll be hopefully capable of handling thanks to our first-rate structure.

Fouls, indirect free-kicks and match-fixing: Liverpool vs. Inter Milan 1965

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Jurgen Klopp not worried about “secrets” as Liverpool coach joins Newcastle – Liverpool FC

Jurgen Klopp has bid farewell to analyst Mark Leyland, and while he joked about him joining Newcastle days before they visit Liverpool, he insisted he’d have no “secrets.”

Leyland has vacated his role as head of post-match and elite player development analysis this week to take over as a first-team coach analyst at Newcastle.

He joins Eddie Howe’s coaching staff in what is seen as a step up in his career, but the timing of his move to St James’ Park could have come into question considering Liverpool host the Magpies on Thursday night.

However, speaking on Leyland’s switch in his pre-match press conference, Klopp insisted that he was “happy to let him use this opportunity.”

Furthermore, the manager stressed that while Leyland could use his experience at Liverpool to his advantage ahead of the game, there were no “secrets” when it came to how his side plays.

“Mark was here longer than I was here, he was an incredibly important member of our staff with his post-match and individual analysis,” Klopp said.

“The analysis he did for the players, with the players, and a top guy on top of that.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2013: Liverpool and Newcastle United supporters during the Premiership match at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But he had the chance to get a more senior role at Newcastle, which we couldn’t offer here, and he was eager to make the next step in his career.

“We could have said ‘you can only start in three or four weeks’, but in this world in the moment, the football world, everyone knows everything anyway – apart from the lineup, and Mark doesn’t know our lineup for tomorrow!

“He knows how we play football, but I think if anyone with a football brain has a closer look they will know how we play football.

“There’s now not too many secrets anymore.

“We were happy to let him use this opportunity, and it is an opportunity for him. Good people should be treated in a good way, and that’s what we did with Mark.”

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What Jurgen Klopp said about Sergio Aguero after retirement news – Liverpool FC

With former Man City striker Sergio Aguero announcing his retirement from football at the age of 33 on Wednesday, Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to “one of the best I ever faced.”

Aguero confirmed in a press conference on Wednesday that he had been forced to retire due to health problems, just six months after leaving City for Barcelona.

The striker was tearful as he addressed reporters and others within the game at the Nou Camp, describing it as a “very difficult moment” but that he was “proud of the career he had.”

His retirement comes after 15 years in Europe, five of which were spent with Atletico Madrid before a decade in Manchester.

He played Liverpool – the club he supported growing up – 22 times throughout his career, and though he only came out on the winning side five times, he scored seven goals and assisted a further four.

Reflecting on the news, Klopp – who also encountered him twice while at Dortmund – praised Aguero and acknowledged the difficulty he would be facing.

“I really feel for him,” the Liverpool manager said.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 9, 2017: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino challenges Manchester City's Sergio Aguero during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He had a great career and there will come a moment when he will see that as well, and will see that 33 is an age where other people retire as well but for other reasons.

“But, of course, for him at the moment, I’m pretty sure he’s like in a shock. That’s how it is when you get the news first yourself that you have to announce news like this.

“The impact he had on the Premier League, the impact he had on football, was incredible.

“The whole time at City, even before Pep arrived there, the goals he scored, the importance of the goals he scored…

“And then since I’m here when we played against them, even when he was not too busy scoring against us, he scored a very important at least, I remember!

“He’s a great player. I don’t know him as a person, but I can say, as a player, one of the best I ever faced.”

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6 things we learned from Jurgen Klopp’s pre-Newcastle press conference – Liverpool FC

Jurgen Klopp covered plenty of topics as he spoke to reporters ahead of Liverpool vs. Newcastle, including the vaccine status of his squad and the future of Joe Gomez.

Here are six things we took from Klopp’s press conference at Kirkby…

 

Strong words on vaccines

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 21, 2019: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp arrives at the stadium wearing a red face mask before the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 236th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp has long been a staunch backer of the COVID-19 vaccine, and spoke in support of the new measures put in place across the Premier League.

He also revealed that his squad and staff were all set to receive their booster jab, but would not be drawn on if vaccine status would impact whether or not he signed a particular player.

“I didn’t think for a second what we would do in a situation like that. Because I didn’t have to yet,” he said.

“In the moment I will have to think about it then we have to make decisions.

“If you sign a player, you sign a player for plenty of reasons and if that will be one of them, I don’t know yet.”

 

No “secrets” as coach moves to Newcastle

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 28, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and AFC Bournemouth's manager Eddie Howe during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a timely move for Liverpool’s former head of post-match and elite player development analysis Mark Leyland this week, as he joined Newcastle as first-team coach analyst.

The opportunity to join close friend Eddie Howe’s coaching staff, rather than filling a straightforward analyst role at Liverpool, was too tempting to pass up.

And Leyland left with Klopp’s blessing, with the manager dismissing the prospect of delaying the move until after Liverpool played Newcastle.

“Mark doesn’t know our lineup for tomorrow! He knows how we play football, but I think if anyone with a football brain has a closer look they will know how we play football,” Klopp said.

“There’s now not too many secrets anymore. We were happy to let him use this opportunity, and it is an opportunity for him.

“Good people should be treated in a good way, and that’s what we did with Mark.”

 

Bobby’s back, Jones is close

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 14, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Footage from Liverpool’s training session on Tuesday evening saw the return of Curtis Jones, while Roberto Firmino joined Diogo Jota as part of the attacking ranks.

“Bobby trained completely normal yesterday, so I would say he is in contention,” Klopp later revealed.

“Curtis had his first partial session with the team, so he’s not far off.

“Timing-wise could not be better, getting two players back of this calibre is obviously good news. So that’s it.”

Good news indeed!

 

No loan for Gomez

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 21, 2021: Liverpool's Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konaté during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In Klopp’s own words, “it was obviously not the best year” for Joe Gomez, who has spent the majority of 2021 on the treatment table.

When he has been fit, as is now the case, the centre-back has barely featured, finding himself fourth choice behind Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and now new signing Ibrahima Konate.

There have been muted suggestions that Gomez could even head out on loan in January, but Klopp has dismissed all talk.

“I have no plans to give anybody on loan in the winter,” the manager said.

“I am not the driving force, let me say it like this. Nobody came to me and asked me ‘can I go somewhere?’.

“Joe is now only back for a proper week or so, because of the circumstances he could be involved in the squad, but he needs still time, he still needs time to train, to get where he has been before.”

 

Fake news for Matip

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Earlier in the week, it was claimed that Matip would consider coming out of retirement for Cameroon – and could even join the squad at next month’s Africa Cup of Nations.

It always seemed fanciful, and Klopp has now revealed it was, in fact, fake news.

“He didn’t, he doesn’t, consider it. I spoke to him, asked him and he said ‘no’,” he said.

“That’s just one of the news out there in the world with nothing behind, let me say it like this.”

 

“Nothing to say” on AFCON!

Mohamed Salah, Egypt, National ( Chris Ricco/BackpagePix/Sports Inc/PA Images)

Finally, Klopp was asked a series of questions on the upcoming AFCON, following claims on Wednesday morning that the tournament was to be cancelled.

As it stands, the AFCON will go ahead in Cameroon, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita all expected to join their national teams for January 9.

“There’s really nothing to say. Real authorities have to decide this kind of thing,” Klopp said, when asked about the reports of a possible cancellation.

“I have no idea how the situation is around the world exactly, that’s how it is.”

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Liverpool squad set for booster jabs – but Klopp has no vaccine rule for signings – Liverpool FC

Jurgen Klopp has revealed that the Liverpool squad has begun receiving COVID-19 boosters, but could not be drawn on if the vaccine will be a requisite for new signings.

The UK government has urged the rollout of a third COVID-19 jab – in other words, a booster for the vaccine – across all those eligible in response to the latest variant.

A rise in cases across the country has already seen a number of Premier League games postponed in recent weeks, while vaccine passports or a negative test are now required for entry to fixtures with over 10,000 in attendance.

This has, naturally, made life more complicated for those involved in football, but speaking in his pre-Newcastle press conference, Klopp said he “supports these new measures absolutely.”

“Yesterday we were all negative and we hope that the same is the case for today. That’s it pretty much,” he explained.

“We are, like the whole world, concerned about it, absolutely. But we do what we can.

“The vaccination status of the team is quite good, I think all who were eligible got boosted – for some medical reasons, some were not allowed in that moment, but they will be done in the next few days.

“The rest got the booster a few days ago and hopefully we can do that with the whole team.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Aston Villa's manager Steven Gerrard (R) shakes hands with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. l' won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking earlier this week, Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard admitted that he would be considering a player’s vaccine status when weighing up whether to complete a potential signing.

However, like Gerrard, Klopp insisted that no decision had been made regarding a hard rule for signings who may not be fully vaccinated.

“I didn’t think about it, to be honest. I don’t know,” he said.

“Who knows where we will be, in which situation the world will be, when we start signing players again. But it’s not important in the moment.

“The whole thing, the whole vaccination thing, is for me a massive question of solidarity, loyalty and togetherness.

“We all have the chance to help not only ourselves but other people as well by getting vaccinated.

“There are no two possible answers, there is only one answer, so you do it. That’s how I understand it.

“It’s not only the squad, everyone who is working here at the AXA Training Centre is at least double-vaccinated and will get a booster as soon as possible for him or her.”

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Roberto Firmino “in contention” vs. Newcastle in “good news” for Klopp – Liverpool FC

Jurgen Klopp has revealed that Roberto Firmino is “in contention” for Liverpool’s midweek clash with Newcastle, with more “good news” on Curtis Jones‘ return.

Firmino has been sidelined since the start of November with a hamstring injury, but recently returned to training with the Liverpool squad at Kirkby.

It is a welcome boost for the Reds, particularly if Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane depart for the Africa Cup of Nations next month, with Firmino having scored six and assisted one in 11 games already this season.

Ahead of the visit of Newcastle on Thursday night, both Firmino and Jones took part in a training session under the lights, the latter back after six weeks out with an eye injury.

And speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp confirmed that his No. 9 is back “in contention,” while it is “good news” when it comes to the return of him and Jones.

“Bobby trained completely normal yesterday, so I would say he is in contention,” he told reporters.

“Curtis had his first partial session with the team, so he’s not far off.

“Timing-wise could not be better, getting two players back of this calibre is obviously good news. So that’s it.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's Divock Origi during the pre-match warm-up before a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, Klopp told the club’s official website that Divock Origi remains out with a “little issue,” having also missed the weekend’s clash with Aston Villa with a knee injury.

Origi joins Harvey Elliott, Nat Phillips and Adrian on the sidelines, but otherwise, Liverpool have “no new injuries” to consider against Newcastle.

In fact, the Reds were also boosted by the return of Diogo Jota to training on Tuesday, with the forward having missed the last two games against AC Milan and Villa with a knock.

Klopp could decide, then, between either Firmino or Jota as starting striker in midweek, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane almost certain to start on either flank.

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Loris Karius linked with worst-ranked club in Europe’s top five leagues – Liverpool FC

With Loris Karius set to leave Liverpool on a free transfer in January, a new club has been linked in SpVgg Greuther Furth, the lowest-ranked club in Europe’s top leagues.

Karius returned to Merseyside in the summer, after a muted loan spell with Union Berlin, and failed to secure a move away from the club he joined in 2016.

Swiss side Basel were among the sides interested, but a switch to St Jakob-Park did not come to fruition as they were unable to meet the goalkeeper’s wage demands.

He has stayed with Liverpool for the first half of the season, then, and having recovered from a shoulder injury is now training with Jurgen Klopp‘s squad on a daily basis.

The German is currently filling in for the injured Adrian, working alongside Alisson, Caoimhin Kelleher, Marcelo Pitaluga and Harvey Davies in a five-man goalkeeping group.

But it has already been reported that Liverpool will allow Karius to leave on a free transfer next month – half a season before his contract expires – to cut his salary from their wage bill.

Basel have already been tipped with a renewed pursuit, but German publication kicker has now linked Bundesliga side SpVgg Greuther Furth with a move.

No club across Europe’s top five leagues – the Premier League, the Bundesliga, LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue 1 – have picked up fewer points than SpVgg at this stage, with the newly promoted side taking four points from 15 games.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, December 6, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip (L) and goalkeeper Loris Karius during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 6 game between AC Milan and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Their first win of the campaign came on Sunday, with a 1-0 victory over Union Berlin, which was their first three points in the top flight since May 2013 – the end of their first-ever season in the Bundesliga.

Prior to that game, however, SpVgg lost first-choice goalkeeper Marius Funk in a likely season-ending knee injury, with Sky Germany quoting sporting director Rachid Azzouzi as admitting the club “has to worry.”

Both Funk and his replacement, Sascha Burchert, are out of contract at the end of the season, with Karius presented as an immediate option to come in.

Loris Karius is undoubtedly a very, very good goalkeeper,” manager Stefan Leitl said, “but I do not participate in names or speculation.”

Leitl added: “The fact is that due to Marius’ injury, we naturally exchange ideas and also look around to see if we still want to do something in the goalkeeping position.”

It remains to be seen whether Karius will emerge as a genuine option for SpVgg, or if the club could offer him the terms he desires, but Liverpool will almost certainly encourage him to leave.

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Vaccination or negative Covid test required for fans under new restrictions – Liverpool FC

Spectators will have to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination or a recent negative lateral flow test to attend sporting events with crowds of more than 10,000 people in England from today.

The Government’s Covid Plan B measures, which apply to events like Premier League matches, have come into force after passing a Commons vote on Tuesday evening.

Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Arsenal are all due to host games on Wednesday night.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has called the measures “proportionate” to the situation the country faces at the moment but refused to rule out even stricter measures such as forcing clubs to reduce capacity at matches.

Stadiums have been free to operate at full capacity since final Covid restrictions were lifted in July.

The introduction of mandatory Covid passes for large venues comes as the Premier League steps up its efforts to combat the threat posed by the Omicron variant of the virus, with top-flight players and staff now required to take a lateral flow test every time they want to enter their club’s training ground.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool supporters queue up to enter the ground before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • COVID status certification required by all supporters
  • Spot checks in place around Anfield
  • Entry will be denied if unable to show the legally required documentation
  • Face coverings must be worn when moving around the stadium
  • Complete LFC health declaration form if received by email
  • Under 18s are exempt from checks

Premier League clubs have agreed to stricter measures in a week when two top-flight matches – Tottenham v Brighton and Brentford v Manchester United – have been postponed due to Covid cases.

The PA news agency understands anyone wishing to enter a Premier League training ground will be required to take a lateral flow test outside, while twice-weekly PCR testing is also being introduced.

The decision on increased testing was taken at a clubs’ shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday, and will sit alongside existing emergency measures around face coverings, limiting time in the treatment room and observing social distancing which were reintroduced last week.

The moves come as the highly transmissible Omicron variant becomes the dominant strain of coronavirus in the UK.

The league announced on Monday there had been 42 positive Covid tests among Premier League players and staff last week – the most it had recorded in any previous seven-day period.

With the season about to enter the busy festive programme, clubs are desperate to avoid a raft of postponements which would create a backlog later in the campaign and could impact upon the integrity of the competition.

Widespread postponements could also leave the league open to demands for rebates from broadcast partners, which had to be paid when the 2019-20 season was suspended at the start of the pandemic.

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Real Madrid make approach for Michael Edwards – who could be open to role – Liverpool FC

Michael Edwards has already confirmed he will leave Liverpool this summer, but though he has turned down Newcastle, Real Madrid have now made their move.

Edwards will step down from his role as sporting director at Anfield when his contract expires on July 1, with his current assistant Julian Ward taking over.

It will be a major change for Liverpool, but one those within the club are confident will not have a negative impact, as Ward has grown in influence in recent years.

The imminent availability of one of football’s most successful and highly regarded sporting directors has led to both speculation and interest from other clubs.

But Edwards has maintained is not leaving Liverpool having already found a new role, and it has already been reported that the 42-year-old had turned down an advance from the newly rich Newcastle.

However, the Independent‘s Melissa Reddy and Miguel Delaney report that he has now received an approach from Real Madrid, who are “hopeful they can persuade him to take the role.”

It is claimed that “a change in the club’s direction” has seen Real shift from targeting players already at Liverpool – including Mo Salah – to attempting to hire the man who brought them to Anfield.

ST HELENS, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 2, 2019: Liverpool's Director of Football Michael Edwards during the UEFA Youth League Group E match between Liverpool FC Under-19's and FC Salzburg Under-19's at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“The plan for the future will be big signings, albeit signed less frequently, alongside up-and-coming stars in the mould of how Liverpool signed Salah and Sadio Mane,” Reddy and Delaney write.

They add that Edwards “immediately rejected” Newcastle, but “that has not been the case” when it comes to the Spanish giants.

There would, of course, be no pushback from Liverpool when it comes to Edwards’ next destination, as he will be free to find new employment from July 1.

But those on Merseyside could be caught in two minds whether they would prefer the mind that helped shape their title-winning squad operating at another Premier League club or one of their leading rivals in Europe.

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