Crouch backs “class” Liverpool forward to help ease Van Dijk nerves

Peter Crouch says Liverpool have struck the right balance in their striking backup for the club’s famed front three.

And in Diogo Jota, he thinks the Reds have the perfect player to help ease any nerves Jurgen Klopp might feel over losing another key man for a long period in addition to Virgil van Dijk.

Summer signing Jota has been impressive when called upon this season, and scored his third goal for the Reds in Tuesday’s 2-0 Champions League win over FC Midtjylland at Anfield.

The Portuguese’s presence, as well as the likes of Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri, has ensured that Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah can all take a breather when necessary during a hectic run of matches.

With Divock Origi still at the club too, Jurgen Klopp has a level of options at his disposal that he hasn’t had before, ensuring that the Premier League champions can refresh and rotate when necessary.

Crouch – who scored 42 goals in 134 games for Liverpool – thinks that bodes well for his former club, and hailed the quality of the Reds in reserve.

Jota scored Liverpool’s opener against Midtylland on Tuesday

“You saw it in the Ajax game when Shaqiri, Minamimo and Jota all came on, I just think it proved that there’s going to be chances for all of them,” said Crouch, while speaking about his involvement with McDonald’s Fun Football programme.

“They’ve got so many games, and think losing Virgil van Dijk is going to make the manager more nervous at the thought of losing a Mane or a Salah, the key, important players.

“And Jota’s a class player.

“He’s so hard-working and he wants to press which they love doing from the front.

“Those front three have been so good in recent years, but there’s always a clamour for them to be better. I think Jota is a great adage to that, and he’s come in and put pressure on a few.

Jota has quickly settled in to Liverpool life

“I’ve heard from quite a few Liverpool fans that maybe Mane could go through the middle and perhaps have Jota on the left and Salah on the right, with Minamino pressuring Firmino for a place in the team.

“That’s another option for them, and I think we’ll see something like that quite a bit this season.”

And it isn’t just Jota who has impressed the former England forward.

Having played with Shaqiri at Stoke, Crouch says the Swiss has been in a similar position to him when he left Liverpool in the summer of 2008, a decision he now says he made too early.

Shaqiri did appear destined to leave the Reds earlier this month too, but having decided to stay he could now make an impact this season having started and impressed against Midtjylland, paying a key role in the opening goal.

“He’s got a lot of competition, but he’s good enough to play,” said Crouch of his former teammate.

Shaqiri started against the Danes on Tuesday

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It’s been an extremely interesting start to the season for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

They got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, before going on to conceded seven in a hammering by Aston Villa.

Virgil van Dijk’s season was ended by injury in the 2-2 draw at Everton, leaving the title favourites looking far less secure at the back – especially with Alisson’s injury worries too.

But there’s no slowing down in what is going to be a busy campaign – with Klopp ensuring his men continue at full pace as they bid for more title glory.

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“I was the same. I remember when Fernando Torres was at Liverpool when I was there, and there was one season after he arrived when I didn’t get many games.

“But then when Torres left for Chelsea, I’d already left. So if I’d have hung around I could have played for another two, three years at such a great club.

“So what I would say to any of those players in that position is to not give up on it too easy, because a special club like that is worth fighting for.”

But while he is full of praise for the backup options, there is no doubt who Crouch thinks has been and remains Liverpool’s “complete” main man.

With the Reds looking lethargic on Tuesday, Salah came on and added a late penalty to further his goal tally during what already looks like being a prolific season for him.

“Salah’s goal record is ridiculous and I feel like he’s started the season so sharp. In all his play he just looks unplayable at times,” said Crouch.

Salah has looked in excellent form at the start of the season

“He just looks so on it.

“From the moment we kicked off the season you just saw how sharp he was, his passing his movement, it’s just all gone up another level. He’s incredible.

“We clipped up some of his stuff at BT the other day and I was looking at it, and some of the passes he’s making this year… cutting inside, taking two or three players out of the game, setting up attacks…

“Early on when he came and he got his 44 goals [in the 2017/18 season] he was shooting from everywhere, and you felt that the pass was the last resort, but now he’s coming inside and looking for people.

Peter Crouch has teamed up with McDonald’s Fun Football to get families active and having fun playing football during half-term

“Don’t get me wrong I still think he’s selfish, because he’s got a right to be, but the way he plays those passes…

“I don’t mind that at all in players. Everyone needs a selfish, ruthless goalscorer. And amazingly that’s what he’s turned out to be.

“He’s gone from being a winger to a ruthless goal machine, and with the potential to set up chances as well.

“He’s a complete player.”

Peter Crouch has teamed up with McDonald’s Fun Football to get families active and having fun playing football during half-term. To join in with Peter’s Fun Football session, and for more ideas on how to keep your kids entertained, go to

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