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Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp  used   the   potential   striker   on   the   front   row  for the second time against Leicester City on Monday night

Sadio Mane  challenges  Luis  Diaz  as Liverpool’s brutal selection criteria  become   clear 

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp  used   the   potential   striker   on   the   front   row  for the second time against Leicester City on Monday night.

Kodi  Gakpo  played   centre-forward   alongside  Mohamed Salah and Luis  Diaz. 


With Gakpo  only   arriving   in  January and  Diaz  injured  between  October  and  April, the only  chance to see  the  combination from the start was in  the  4-3 win over Tottenham Hotspur.  . 

Still,   given   the   quality   of   all   three   players,  most fans  will   be   convinced   that  this  will   be  the most popular  player   of   2023/24. 

Salah  scored  all three of Liverpool’s goals, the first time he’s scored such a hat-trick in the Premier League, and  while  Gakpo  once  again impressed,  it’s fair to say  Diaz  struggled a bit.

He  scored   very   few   goals,   with   only  0.08  goals  expected  and  both shots  missed  the target,  clearly   limiting  his contribution  elsewhere.  

Normally  a formidable  threat   in  one-on-one  duels,  he  succeeded   in   dribbling   only   once  (three  attempts)  and lost a total of 15 of the 19 duels he  played,   with  a success rate of  Only  21%. 

In   addition,  the  full-back  committed four fouls, more than anyone else in the  match.  


It  was only his third start since  returning  from  injury,  but  Diaz  was much more  himself  than he  had   been   in   his   previous   appearances.   Rather,   it  was  a rare bad night.

Fortunately, the pressure on the Colombian is very light, as it was  late  last season. 

After   a   $62m   (£57m/€57m)   move   from   Porto   in   January,   Diaz   was   given   an   enviable   amount   of   freedom   in  his first six months at  Anfield. 

Klopp has repeatedly stressed that  Diaz   is   taking  a laissez-faire approach,  where   he   just   does   what   he   does,  rather than  bombarding  him with information.

It was plug and play  and   not  “read  all  the  manuals   to  get started”.

The fans  are   waiting.  They focused  less  on  Diaz’s   performance  than  on  his  outstanding  performance  of  six  goals and five assists in 26 appearances.

The  almost   universal  expectation was  to   make   a   leap   forward   in   terms   of   final   results  after a full pre-season  at   the  new  club.  

The  2022/23 season  got off to a  good  start, with  Diaz  scoring four goals and providing three assists in his first 12  games.


But there  were   injuries.   First,   Diaz  was  sidelined   with   a   knee   problem  from early October  to   December,  before suffering a devastating setback at the club’s training camp in Dubai until  the  spring. 

One   wonders   what  would  have   happened  numerically without  these   issues. 

After 33 games and six months, the 26-year-old finally returned as a substitute against Leeds United last month.

Since   then,   he  has  made  seven  appearances  and scored  one   goal,  but  feels   his   near-term   hopes  are limited. 

Instead,  his   responsibility   will   be   to   restore   sporting   excellence   and,   hopefully,   lay  the  groundwork  for next season  as  Liverpool  far   outsmart   the   top   four. 

In fact, Klopp seems to  see  this year’s run as  a   preseason   run  of  sorts.   Diaz’s  goals will  be   even   higher   next   year   if  he  avoids  further injury  problems. 

After all,  the  competition for seats is fierce, with Darwin  Nunez  and Diogo Jota both waiting  on  the  sides. 


Just as Gakpo is  slated   to   replace  Roberto  Firmino,   Diaz   will   succeed  Sadio  Mane,  and Klopp and his  team  can  expect  similar  figures. 

Mane has scored just 20 goals  in  six  seasons  at Anfield,  the  highest   score   Diaz   scored  in August, 18 months after  joining.  

This  will allow him to  consolidate his  position  on the left in the face of  tough  competition, fill the void left by  the  Liverpool legend and establish himself as one of the best  left   wingers  in the world.  You   can. 

It’s a tough question, but it’s the brutal selection criteria that  Mane  helped  shape.

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