Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has launched a strong defence of his treatment of young players after the agent of teenager Bobby Duncan criticised the way he was allegedly being treated.
The 18-year-old cousin of Steven Gerrard, has been linked with Fiorentina and FC Nordsjaelland but the club have insisted he will not leave the club this season.
Agent Saif Rubie posted a lengthy statement on social media claiming Liverpool had previously agreed to allow the England Under-18 international to move on this summer and claiming the current impasse is threatening his client’s mental health.
“Bobby is one of our young players we really, really care about. Really, really care,” said Klopp.
“Not only young players but all players in football, sometimes contract things can not be a massive problem because there are bigger problems in life but can be a problem because it is whether to extend or not extend.
“It is a normal thing but with young players we are particularly sensitive.
“We need to do the right things, all the different parties, and everything will be fine.”
Duncan, an FA Youth Cup winner with the under-18s for whom he scored 32 goals last season, has graduated to the under-23s, having only joined from Manchester City last summer for a £200,000 compensation fee.
He was left out of the under-23s win over Southampton on Monday but is expected to return to play for Neil Critchley’s side and Klopp said some perspective was needed for all youth team players looking for their breakthrough.
“The big problem they could have is they lose patience because life is like this,” added the Reds boss.
“You have to make it step-by-step if you are not Lionel Messi at 17 ready to play for Barcelona – you don’t see that very often.
“Patience in the right way, in a football way. Not waiting for things, being ready for making all the steps you need to do: training hard, playing at the next level, doing what the coach is telling you and everything is fine.”
Another player, much closer to the first team, also needing to be patient is forward Xherdan Shaqiri.
The Switzerland international has started just one of the last 26 matches, and featured for just 142 minutes since he end of February – 89 of those coming in the 4-0 Champions League semi-final second leg comeback against Barcelona.
“Is he the happiest player in the squad at the moment? I don’t think so. Can I see that on the training pitch? No,” said Klopp ahead of the trip to Turf Moor where they will look to extend their 100 per cent record to four matches.
“He is in a good mood and training hard, doing what he has to do and is ready for the moment when he has to help the team on the pitch.
“In training, Shaq doesn’t have to improve in any way if he can keep the level he is doing at the moment. It’s not about that.
“Of course he can improve, everybody can improve, but he doesn’t have to show anything special. And we will need him. He knows that 100 per cent.”