Sport Soccer

Friday 15 December 2017

Liverpool enjoy successful day with Klopp contract and Sakho doping boost

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has signed a new six-year deal with the club
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has signed a new six-year deal with the club

Liverpool's pre-season kicked off on the field with a 1-0 win but they received a double boost off it with manager Jurgen Klopp signing a new six-year contract and defender Mamadou Sakho being cleared of doping charges.

Danny Ings scored the only goal against Tranmere in a friendly which was not much more than a glorified open training session as more significant matters were decided behind the scenes.

News of Klopp's new deal broke earlier in the day while UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee announced just after kick-off at Prenton Park the case against Sakho for a failed drugs test after taking a fat-burning substance in March had been dropped.

"Following a hearing with the lawyers of the player and experts of the WADA-accredited laboratories on this case, the CEDB has decided to dismiss the case," said a UEFA statement.

Sakho, whose interim 30-day ban cost him the chance to play in the Europa League final and represent France at Euro 2016, is now free to play again.

"I am happy that this is finally over. It's been a difficult time for me but I knew I had done nothing wrong," said the defender, who it is believed will now consider taking legal action.

"I am looking forward to getting back in the team and playing again."

Klopp, meanwhile, has been given the green light by owners Fenway Sports Group to build for the medium-term future having taken the squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers to the Europa League and Capital One Cup finals last season.

"I am the first to recognise that with this great commitment comes a great responsibility," he said.

"It's hard to express in words how honoured myself, (assistants) Zeljko (Buvac) and Peter (Krawietz) feel by the commitment shown in us by the ownership and the club in general."

Principal owner John Henry, Liverpool chairman Tom Werner and FSG president Mike Gordon are the three key figures who made the decision to offer Klopp a new contract just nine months after arriving.

They saw it as an important part of their strategy going forward.

"When you have an individual of Jurgen's quality in the building it makes perfect sense to secure that person for the long term. To not do so would be irresponsible," said a joint statement.

"In Jurgen we have someone who is always looking ahead, always looking beyond his own wants and needs and putting the club first.

"The ideas and plans he has for the football infrastructure excite us and we believe it benefits the organisation to have Jurgen committed to Liverpool for a sustained period, to make sure he is here to oversee this development.

"He is a world-class managerial talent and his leadership will be critical to everything we hope to achieve in the years ahead."

There was little to read into matters on the field, however.

The 23-man squad had no room for Mario Balotelli, whom the club are trying to offload, Jordon Ibe, who is set to complete a £15million move to Bournemouth in the next week, and Luis Alberto, a target for former club Sevilla.

Also absent for Liverpool were all their internationals who were involved in Euro 2016 and the Copa America but Klopp was able to field Sadio Mane, a £30million recruit from Southampton, and fellow new signings Joel Matip and goalkeeper Loris Karius.

The latter two will take some time to adapt to their new surroundings in the Reds' backline and Tranmere's Connor Jennings' 24th-minute header from a corner hit the far post.

Mane was involved in Liverpool's two best chances of the half - a diagonal driving run from halfway, something seen a lot at St Mary's, set up Ryan Kent who shot too close to Scott Davies, who later saved well from the Senegal international.

Eleven changes were made for the second half with striker Ings forcing a save out of substitute goalkeeper Iain Turner and Lazar Markovic, who has much to prove after a season on loan at Fenerbahce, hammering the rebound against a post with the goal gaping.

Ings looked lively with a header over and overhead kick wide before finally beating Turner with a fierce drive after a good run by 17-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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