Sunday, November 27, 2022

Liverpool defender hunted by five clubs as Jurgen Klopp faces transfer call.

Liverpool defender hunted by five clubs as Jurgen Klopp faces transfer call.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has already seen Trent Alexander-Arnold limp home before the EURO 2020 competition has even commenced.

The right-back now facing a rush against time to be fit in time for the start of pre-season after suffering a thigh predicament with England.

But there is one player Klopp will almost certainly be gratified at being given the chance for game time over the coming weeks – Liverpool’s deputy for Alexander-Arnold over the last 18 months.

After all, Neco Williams has wasted much of the season kicking his heels on the bench for the Reds.

The 20-year-old started the season in the starting line-up for the Community Shield encounter against Arsenal at Wembley in August.

Yet having been in the matchday squad in all but nine of Liverpool’s 53 matches, the defender was limited to just 14 appearances, nine of which came from the start.

Williams had a rollercoaster time during a time in the side when Alexander-Arnold was sidelined in November for five weeks, one tough afternoon at Brighton and Hove Albion provoking a half-time substitution and unfair abuse on social media.

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He answered with good performances against Ajax, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and as a substitute at Fulham.

In the six months since then, though, Williams has made just two appearances in the Premier League and, in all competitions, featured for a mere 168 minutes, his chances restricted by the improvement in form of Alexander-Arnold.

It’s in contrast to his involvement with Wales. The defender started both World Cup qualifiers in March and made an appearance from the bench in the friendly victory over Mexico.

And having last week had an extremely ungracious red card in a friendly against France reversed, Williams was arguably his country’s best performer in their final Euro 2020 warm-up match against Albania.

The Liverpool youngster is therefore hopeful of a starting role when Wales become the first of the home nations to play at the tournament by taking on Switzerland in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

Williams could well be given the responsibility of keeping quiet Anfield team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri, the playmaker expected to be the key man for the Swiss.

With Italy in Rome and a return to Baku to challenge Turkey then following, Wales will have a difficult task in advancing from Group A as they look to replicate their semi-final showing at Euro 2016.

Despite what happens over the next month, Williams is a wanted man with Southampton, Burnley, Norwich City, Swansea City and Cardiff City among those considering an endeavor to prise him away from Liverpool this summer.

Having once been labeled as being “in the shadows” by Klopp, the right-back will now find himself in the spotlight over the coming weeks.

Williams will profit. And Liverpool, too, will hope they can gain from the Academy graduate taking a further step towards establishing he can become a stronger contender for first-team action next season.

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Liverpool defender hunted by five clubs as Jurgen Klopp faces transfer call.

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