Monday 16 September 2019

'I had contact with Stevie. I said the doors are always open'

Manager hasn't discounted bringing 'legend' back to fold as he honours Gerrard's Anfield training agreement

Jurgen Klopp is happy for Steven Gerrard to come back and train at Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp is happy for Steven Gerrard to come back and train at Liverpool

Simon Hughes and Ian Herbert

Jurgen Klopp is ready to examine a role for Steven Gerrard at Liverpool as he observes him train at Melwood after the former captain's arrival back on Merseyside.

It was revealed yesterday that Gerrard is set for an extraordinary return to Anfield after contact had been made between the new manager and the former captain.

Ahead of Liverpool's Europa League tie in Russia with Rubin Kazan tonight, Klopp explained that Gerrard will always be welcome at training and that, soon enough, the club is likely to make him a proposal.

"We will find something for Stevie, for sure," the German said before explaining that it might take time for everything to become clear. "We are in the middle of the season," he reasoned.

Gerrard is more likely to feature in the club's off-field long-term strategy. In the meantime, Klopp is determined to look afresh at every possible player option at his disposal and if Gerrard makes such a strong mark in training that the decision to release him to LA Galaxy looks wrong, it is understood the new manager would reassess Gerrard's playing situation.

That would also be contingent on Gerrard wanting to pull on a red shirt again, more than six months after he bade Anfield an emotional farewell before his final home game against Crystal Palace.

The 35-year-old - who landed back in London yesterday after an overnight flight from California - certainly has time to prove himself to Klopp, as he spends November and December on Merseyside with his family, with Klopp putting Melwood's facilities at the player's disposal while he seeks to maintain his fitness levels.

Klopp's open-minded philosophy was revealed yesterday when the 18-year-old winger Ryan Kent was temporarily recalled to Anfield from his loan spell at Coventry and the 21-year-old right-back Ryan McLaughlin was called back from his own loan to Aberdeen.

Klopp wishes to assess the pair, who will quickly be sent back out to their clubs, but Klopp does not feel he can make an accurate assessment of their value to him through second-hand opinion. The same goes for Gerrard at the club he represented 710 times, scoring 186 goals.

Klopp elaborated on the interaction between himself and Gerrard. "I had contact with Stevie," the manager said. "We had one phone call and a few messages and, of course, I think I said the doors are always open. Stevie is a legend at this club and if he's here in Liverpool and he's young and healthy enough to want to train, that is absolutely no problem.

"Stevie has a contract with LA Galaxy, he loves this club and he is a legend and when his contract has ended we can talk about different stuff.

"Everything is fine, perfect between LFC and Stevie, but I don't know him until now and I'm looking forward to the moment we meet each other and we'll talk about his ideas for the future, maybe, if he has some."

Klopp denied that talk had stretched as far as a playing role - "nothing else, he didn't ask (about playing) so I don't have to think about it" - but it is understood that it is certainly not out of the question should Gerrard impress in the months ahead at Melwood.

Klopp has operated with three central midfielders in each of his five games in charge of Liverpool. But he appreciates that if he is to achieve a top-four finish, which Liverpool consider attainable in a fluid season, he will need increased squad depth. There are FA and League Cup considerations as well as the Europa League.

Klopp will take the opportunity presented by the forthcoming international break to meet Gerrard in person.

Klopp's immediate focus is on extending his unbeaten run to six games in tonight's Europa League tie against Rubin Kazan. Many are attributing Liverpool's good form to the impetus of a new appointment, but Klopp believes there is more to it.

"I don't believe in things like this, to be honest," said Klopp. "Of course it is like this in a positive way, where everyone says it's a new chance and all the players feel more important than before."

Rubin Kazan v Liverpool, Live, BT Sport Europe & Setanta Ireland 6.00pm

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