Klopp must start £32.3m man against Napoli and avoid safe bet to secure perfect CL start – opinion

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With Jordan Henderson set to not return to the fold until after the international break, thanks to his hamstring injury, and Fabio Carvalho also likely ruled out of Liverpool’s Champions League opener, the overriding temptation for Jurgen Klopp will be to look to the experience of James Milner to shore up his midfield.

History tells us that’s exactly the plan of action the German will take on Wednesday as the Reds pay a visit to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Yet, if the former Borussia Dortmund tactician has been paying close attention to prior encounters with Napoli, he’ll be fully aware of the need to overturn a difficult record against the Italian outfit away from home.

A potential absence for Victor Osimhen and a relative dip defensively following the absence of Kalidou Koulibaly will undoubtedly be factors that work in our favour, though certainly shouldn’t be relied upon if we hope to record a victory in Italy.

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To that end, Klopp may be well-advised making a gamble of sorts in starting a more technical operator alongside Fabinho and Harvey Elliott in the middle of the park.

Thiago Alcantara would be our first-choice had the Spaniard made his return from injury less recently, which leaves room for loan addition Arthur Melo – for whom we possess an option-to-buy worth £32.3m (spreadable over two seasons) – to potentially make his debut for the club.

Throwing a player in lacking match fitness understandably will represent a gamble bordering on negligence in some quarters, though we can hardly afford to let another slow start leave Liverpool clawing for purchase in a tie that’s slowly slipping away from them.

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Including a player capable of providing us with a level of control resembling that which we enjoyed when our No.6 was in full flow for us would provide Jurgen Klopp with the building blocks necessary for his side to thrive in Naples.

Whilst improvements defensively from the Merseyside derby should be considered a major plus, we simply can’t afford to go on with a lacklustre midfield display in the vain hope our veteran midfielder will give us anything more than a solid, reliable outing.

Make no question of it, it’s far from certain that we can get a midfield masterclass out of Arthur so soon after his switch from the Serie A – though surely such a roll of the dice against an opponent the Brazilian will be even more familiar with than his new teammates is worthwhile in a bid to get anything other than another defeat against Gli Azzurri?

The decision is Jurgen Klopp’s to make.

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