Manager Jurgen Klopp was evasive when questioned about Liverpool's ongoing links with Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Alex Teixeira ahead of the Reds' League Cup semi-final second leg against Stoke City on Tuesday.
The Brazilian playmaker has reportedly been subject to a bid from Liverpool, and Teixeira has told his current club he wants a move to Merseyside, per Sky Sports.
However, Klopp refused to be drawn on the matter during Monday's press conference ahead of the Anfield clash against the Potters, per Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror: "It’s absolutely nothing to say. Maybe it surprises you. Nothing to say to things like this."
Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe recently analysed where Teixeira could fit into Klopp's current setup were he to make the switch:
The German's side take a potentially vital 1-0 lead from the first leg into Tuesday's match. They go into the clash on the back of their extraordinary 5-4 win over Norwich City on Saturday when Adam Lallana scored a stoppage-time winner to secure the victory after the Reds had gone 3-1 down.
Klopp looked back on the victory in which the manager had his glasses broken by Christian Benteke in the celebrations and discussed his replacements:
"They're not a new pair, just my second one, and I look a little bit like a serial killer," Klopp joked, via Alex Young of Goal.com"
"I won't be asking Christian for a new pair," Klopp added. "It was my fault and never in my life has anyone had to pay for my mistake."
Liverpool will be aiming to get on the scoresheet as early as possible against Stoke to give them a level of comfort in the tie, and Klopp is looking for his side to stamp out the slow starts that have prevailed during his short tenure, per Richards:
I didn’t like our start. I liked our reaction but the first 15 minutes was something. We’ve had this two/three times—Newcastle was similar, West Ham was similar. But the striking back mentality is much better than we had. But now we have to start at our highest level in each game. It’s not in the player’s minds that it’s only Norwich or something. [...]
Tomorrow, it’s go, fight for every single ball, every single yard. It’s easy. But in common, it’s something I have to find a solution for.
Klopp conceded he would more than happily accept a boring 1-0 result against Mark Hughes' side, as it would put them through to the final, per the Liverpool Echo's James Pearce:
James Pearce @JamesPearceEcho
Klopp: "Boring is not too cool but 1-0 is a good result. We had that at Stoke. Lot of people thought result could have been clearer."1/25/2016, 1:05:06 PM
However, he warned against getting carried away if they did reach the final, as it is only the tournament winners that people remember, per Pearce: "It's only a semi. Joining a final is cool but it's not the same as winning it. Does anyone know who came 2nd in Carling Cup? Our target is to go to the final, but celebrate it more in your mind than in real world as we have another big game on Saturday."
Stoke go into the Tuesday clash on the back of a 3-0 Premier League drubbing to Leicester City on Saturday and will be looking to bounce back by confirming their spot in February's Wembley final.
The Premier League clash played out between Liverpool and Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on the first day of the 2015-16 season also finished 1-0, thus the Reds have had the edge over the Potters in recent times.
However, there can be no room for complacency among the Liverpool players.
Klopp still has a variety of injury issues to deal with and is set to go with the same centre-back partnership that conceded four against Norwich, per ESPN FC's Ben Dinnery:
Ben Dinnery @BenDinnery
Sakho will partner Toure in the heart of defence (barring any setbacks). Lovren lacks match fitness after 3-weeks out. #LFC1/25/2016, 1:15:34 PM
Per Richards, Klopp also revealed that Nathaniel Clyne picked up a knock that could keep him out of the match, and only Jon Flanagan—recently returned from a long-term injury—is available to cover.
Klopp's spell in charge since October has returned inconsistent results from Liverpool, but reaching a cup final would be a major achievement for the club.
They have not reached a Wembley final since the 2011-12 FA Cup, but simply avoiding defeat on Tuesday will be enough to return them to the famous stadium this year.
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