Liverpool signing looks perfect for Klopp after impressive Premier League debut against Leicester

The January recruit from Porto caught the eye on his Premier League arc, with Klopp noting it was one of the "best first games" he's seen

GB About: Luis Diaz Publish: 02/15/2022 Edit: 02/15/2022 Author: Gardener

KloppLiverpool weren't expecting to make a major signing during the January transfer window but Tottenham's late interest in Colombia international Luis Diaz, who was earmarked as a summer target for Jurgen Klopp, forced them to do so. After news of Tottenham's offer for the Porto winger broke, Liverpool swooped in and their 'big six' rivals eyed the highly-rated 25-year-old. It was typical of the club's approach to the transfer market: find a player who can improve the first-team squad and strike as soon as he becomes available. Partly due to circumstances and partly out of dizzying excitement, Klopp was quick to try and bed Diaz. On the day that Mo Salah and Sadio Mane met in the Africa Cup of Nations final, Diaz made his debut playing in the final 32 minutes of a 3-1 FA Cup win over Cardiff City. Four days later he was thrown in for his first start against Leicester despite Salah's quick return from Cameroon. "Luis Diaz's natural speed, especially when Mo isn't in the starting XI, helps us add some depth to our game," Klopp told BT Sport ahead of the game. It wasn't Salah's choice [not to start], it was my choice, but he understood 100 percent. Sadio came back last night and is still in bed now! The beauty of Diaz's early arrival is that Mane was able to sleep in his post-Afcon celebrations in Senegal and Klopp could afford to have an impatient Salah in reserve for the first hour. Diaz started with a very passable imitation of Mane from his usual left position. A packed Anfield was on their feet in anticipation for the first 15 seconds as the new boy sped away after a long ball before his path to goal was blocked by Daniel Amartey. The one-on-one match between Diaz and James Justin quickly became the most compelling on the pitch; a new signing and a player returning from a lengthy injury layoff could always be eager to impress. Newcomers to the Premier League can take a while to adjust to the frantic pace and physicality of the league, but Diaz didn't seem too bothered by that, hopping into challenges with Justin and buzzing around like an irritated fly trying to find an open window to zoom out. Diaz started the game on the left, drifting to the right as the first half progressed and starting the second period through the middle; Like Jota, who brought his league record to a dozen with two predatory finishes, his ability to play in each of the three forward roles is a huge asset. The pair bonded midway through the second half, but Diaz whipped a shot wide after rushing past Jota's pass. Then came his big moment; Salah's back pass found him in the box and it seemed certain a debut goal was on the way, only for Schmeichel to narrow his legs even more to prevent his low shot from squeezing through. With Salah, Mane (both 29) and Firmino (30) all either at their peak or showing signs of gradual decline, Liverpool are moving quickly to future-proof their front line. Snapping Jota and Diaz, both 25, in the space of three windows looks like an excellent deal. Jota has outlined his credentials; only Salah has scored more league goals than 2021-22. Klopp was full of praise for Diaz's influence, going so far as to say it was one of the best debuts he'd seen from a new player. Asked how the new signing had adapted so quickly in a press conference on Friday, Klopp replied: "His skills, his character. It was probably one of the best [debuts] I've seen from a new player. "That's true because he looked completely natural but it's just a first game and we'll have to see how he will adapt to all the different things and intensities in the Premier League. "There's no rush but last night was a very good opportunity to start it because Sadio [Mane] wasn't here yet and Mo [Salah] is coming back from an incredibly intense tournament. "It was then a really good moment [to start Diaz] and it showed up." “He looks fast, he looks lively, he's pushing the ball, he doesn't mind signing players and running towards them and hitting them. “I think he looks like a Liverpool player, he really looks like he would fit this team like a glove. A brilliant player and as I've said in his brief, fleeting appearance so far, he looks like he'd go with that red shirt." Glenn Hoddle echoed Owen's assessment: "He looks like he's been a Liverpool player for years player,” he said in a comment. "He hasn't done anything spectacular yet, but he looks comfortable."

Keywords: Diaz, Salah, Klopp, Jota, Liverpool, first, Mane, one, three, the Premier League, last night, Tottenham, second, years, 2021-22, two, 25-year-old, summer, 30, 25, Owen, Glenn Hoddle, Friday, Firmino, the second half, a dozen, the first half, Justin, James Justin, Daniel Amartey

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