Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has been told by manager Jurgen Klopp he has an important role to play this season.
The 19-year-old, who scored twice in a 6-0 pre-season friendly win against Tranmere, could end up saving the Reds boss millions in the transfer window if he fulfills his potential.
He has been lined up to fill the boots vacated by Daniel Sturridge as the team’s third-choice centre-forward after Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi, who has just signed a new contract.
However, Klopp wants the player to start developing his all-round game.
“I love the boy, he is fantastic player, but one of the goals I would have scored,” said Klopp.
“We knew Rhian was a good player before. Why should I play it down? I just don’t want to talk after a game about the guy who scored two goals.
“I saw a really good game and Rhian is a fantastic player.
“One hundred per cent [it is a big season] but it depends on him as well. Divock Origi stays which is good news, Bobby Firmino is still there.
“Rhian Brewster is a top striker, he is a top talent and I have told him already that he has an important role this year but how important depends on him.
“We will see. He has to play different positions as well – the centre, wing is possible I think, we will see how we line up, but there will be opportunities for him. I am sure.”
Liverpool have so far signed youngster Sepp Van Den Berg but are not expected to make any major signings this summer.
“Rhian Brewster, (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t play last year, all the young boys didn’t play for us last year,” said Klopp.
“The transfer market is open. We will see what we do, but I don’t think it will be the biggest transfer window of all time.”
In addition to Brewster’s double there were also goals for Origi, Curtis Jones, Bobby Duncan and Nathaniel Clyne in a squad which relied heavily on youth, with a number of internationals still to return to training.
Of the squad which won the Champions League 40 days ago, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Simon Mignolet, Joe Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Origi and Joel Matip all featured for 45 minutes at Prenton Park.
Liverpool forward Xherdan Shaqiri is facing a battle to be ready for the start of the season after manager Jurgen Klopp revealed he would be sidelined for “a while”.
Shaqiri is still carrying a calf injury sustained on international duty with Switzerland in their Nations League defeat to England on June 9.
The former Stoke player returned to the club’s Melwood training ground this week and assessment by medical staff has given Klopp a headache as he steps up his pre-season preparations.
“Shaq is still injured from the national team and it will take a while until he is in again,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.
“He has a tear in his calf, so he will not be involved for a while.”
The 27-year-old, a £13 million buy last summer, has plenty to prove to Klopp after fading in the second half of their Champions League-winning campaign.
Having enjoyed a two-month, nine-match purple patch from late October – in which he scored six goals – he fell out of favour in 2019.
Shaqiri made just 11 appearances after the turn of the year, only four of which were starts.
His current absence leaves Klopp short in attacking options with the returns of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah (Africa Cup of Nations) and Roberto Firmino (Copa America) all delayed due to their involvement in international tournaments this summer.
Champions League hero Divock Origi – now in the final year of his contract with a new deal offered but not yet signed – is the manager’s only senior forward after the departure of Daniel Sturridge.
Youngster Rhian Brewster will be part of the first-team squad full-time this season after recovering from serious ankle and knee injuries while Harry Wilson, who impressed on loan at Derby, will get a chance in pre-season.
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Senegal advanced to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over Uganda courtesy of Sadio Mane’s 15th minute strike – the Liverpool striker also missed a second-half penalty during the match in Cairo on Friday.
This eventful display for the Liverpool superstar caused some reflection in the post-match interview.
He said: They gave me three chances, and I’ve missed two times. That’s not a good ratio.”
See his full reaction above: