Mattia De Sciglio hopes Juventus draw an English club in the Champions League last 16 after getting a taste of the Premier League two seasons ago.

Juve battled to a 4-3 aggregate victory over Tottenham in the first knockout round in 2017-18 after settling for a 2-2 draw in the opening encounter in Turin.

The Serie A champions eventually lost out to Real Madrid in the quarter-finals and had their hopes dashed by Ajax at the same stage last term.

Maurizio Sarri's men will expect to go further after topping Group D and defender De Sciglio said he now wants to face either of their two possible English opponents, Spurs or Chelsea.

"If you want to get to the end of the competition, sooner or later you have to meet all the strongest opponents," the Italy international told Sky Sport Italia.

"Personally I'd like to play against an English team, like we did two years ago, because it's nice to play against them."

The draw for the last 16 takes place in Nyon on Monday.

Before then, Juve must negotiate Sunday's Serie A home game against struggling Udinese.

The Bianconeri, 2-0 winners at Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, drew with Sassuolo and lost to Lazio in the two fixtures that followed their previous European engagements.

"It's true that we have had some difficulties after Champions League matches, but so far we have lost only once in the league and we are right there, attached to Inter," De Sciglio said.

"Udinese will be another tough game. There are no easy games in Serie A. But if we play like Juve, we will take the three points."

Juve sit two points behind leaders Inter, who visit Fiorentina on Sunday.

Trent Alexander-Arnold believes Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp's unwavering belief has helped shape his life for the better.

Klopp extended his contract with the Premier League leaders on Friday, agreeing a deal that keeps him at the club until 2024.

The German arrived at Anfield in October 2015 and handed a teenage Alexander-Arnold his professional debut 12 months later, in an EFL Cup tie against Tottenham.

The Merseysider has gone on to win the Champions League and cement a regular starting berth at right-back.

"He is someone who has really made me who I am today," Alexander-Arnold told Spanish newspaper AS when asked about Klopp.

"Someone who has pushed me to get better every day, someone who has given me so many opportunities that I will never be able to repay all that confidence. He has helped me in every way."

Alexander-Arnold's early exposure to first-team football helped him win a place in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the 2018 World Cup.

The 21-year-old appears certain to be involved at Euro 2020 after appearing in three qualifiers, including two in November.

He was on the bench when the Three Lions encountered racist abuse during their infamous away game against Bulgaria, which the visitors won 6-0.

"It was something that, personally, I had never faced before, nor my team-mates, although they told us what could happen," Alexander-Arnold said of the ugly scenes in Sofia.

"The worst happened before the break, when the match stopped. In the changing room we decided to go out and play football and win, and make our country proud of us. It's disappointing, something that shouldn't happen in football these days."

Now an emerging leader in a Liverpool side charging towards a first Premier League title, Alexander-Arnold said wearing the armband was a definite personal ambition.

"Yes, of course," he said. "Whether it comes true or not, it is not really my decision. I don't choose who the captain is. But yes, I would love to captain Liverpool."

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Freddie Ljungberg admitted he cannot spend "months and months" as Arsenal's interim head coach without adequate support staff.

The Swede will oversee a fifth match when the Gunners host Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

Arsenal sacked Unai Emery on November 29 and though they have reportedly been receptive to the idea of Ljungberg seeing out the season, he has not been allowed to strengthen the coaching team.

Academy manager Per Mertesacker continues to serve as a makeshift assistant.

"The club have said I have to wait until they make a decision, so yeah, I can't do anything at the moment," Ljungberg said.

"I have Per but, at the same time, he is academy manager. But he is helping me with coaching. The club has said when they make a decision that's it, or I am obviously leaving, or maybe then we can do something with the staff.

"But it is up to the club."

Links to Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo and ex-Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti have thus far come to nothing as Arsenal delay the appointment of a full-time replacement for Emery.

Asked if a quick decision would be best, Ljungberg said: "It's far from me to say.

"If you look at the person who was here before, he had a lot of staff and maybe I don't have so many. So if you keep on going like that for months and months, it’s not so easy. But that's totally up to the club."

"I haven't got any indications of if I'm here or not," he continued.

"What I've said to the bosses and the club is I will do everything in my power to do as well as I can for this club and the players.

"Then obviously it is up to them to make a decision. I try not to put any emotions into that. It's totally business and up to them."

Frank Lampard joked he would ask Chelsea to sign Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.

The Premier League side are able to sign players in January after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) halved their transfer ban.

While Lampard wants to have a say in Chelsea's transfer activity, he joked about signing three of the world's best attackers – Barcelona's Messi, Juventus' Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe.

"If I say I want Mbappe, Ronaldo and Messi for my front three I might get knocked back," the Chelsea head coach said.

"I wouldn't say that, but it's obviously a balance where I can put forward a recommendation and have an open conversation with the owner and hope we move forward in the right direction. I'm very open about that.

"My biggest thing here is how hard can we work on the training ground because I know we have a good squad, that's my main concern.

"Of course when it comes to recruitment I want to have a big say in it and we are very open."

Chelsea were banned from signing players during the close season, but have still made a decent start to the campaign, sitting fourth in the Premier League.

Lampard believes the performances of some of the club's younger players could lead to a change at Chelsea, who host Bournemouth on Saturday.

"I just think we all here have seen this summer, and what's happened since the summer, that the idea of going into the academy and giving these boys a chance was a really good one, because they've deserved it. And they haven't been given that so much in the past," he said.

"So I do think maybe we've changed their [the club's] minds a bit on that one."

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho praised Christian Eriksen's performances, but refused to discuss the midfielder's future.

Eriksen's future has been widely spoken about with the Denmark international coming out of contract at the end of the season.

However, Mourinho is more concerned with the 27-year-old's performances and said he was pleased with Eriksen, who has made just one start since the Portuguese tactician's arrival.

"I only know his contract ends at the end of the season and the conversations I have had with Christian are private conversations that I am not going to share," Mourinho told UK newspapers.

"He was so honest with me and I was so on honest with him – our relationship is really, really good. We have a very good relationship that started on day one. I am not going to betray that trust and relationship.

"I just share this intimate conversation with the structure of the club and Christian obviously knows I am an important part of the club and my job is to share with the structure but to you, it is not for me to say. It is up to Christian to tell anything he wants to or not.

"Every time I play him, I think he shows clearly the quality he has and he tries to help the team when he's on the pitch which is an important thing for me, independent of his future."

Eriksen has previously been linked with a move to Real Madrid, while Manchester United are also reportedly interested.

But, asked if Eriksen would leave in January, Mourinho said: "I cannot answer that. I don't know."

Marcus Rashford labelled Ole Gunnar Solskjaer comparing him to Cristiano Ronaldo as "nice", but the Manchester United forward said he still had a way to go to reach those heights.

Rashford was compared to Ronaldo by his manager after starring in United's 2-1 Premier League win over Manchester City last week.

But while happy with such talk, the 22-year-old said he needed to improve to match the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and United great.

"The Ronaldo thing was nice, definitely a compliment," Rashford told BBC Sport.

"But I understand how far I've got left to go to reach the heights he reached so I am very clear-minded and focused on myself."

Rashford came through the academy at United and has already made 191 senior appearances for the Premier League giants, scoring 58 goals.

The forward has a painting on the walls at Carrington after coming through the youth system and Rashford said he knew the responsibility he held.

"It is a bit overwhelming but it is the process of development. The players I looked up to are obviously older now. The younger players look up to us," he said.

"The transition happens so fast. When I understood that, my perception of that picture changed a little bit.

"When I was younger and saw people such as [David] Beckham and [Paul] Scholes on the walls, it gave me that determination every time you went to training. I wanted to reach those heights. I knew they were on the other side of the building, training every day and working hard. I was so far away from them but so close at the same time.

"It's happening now where people like me and Scotty [McTominay] are an example to some of the academy lads who are coming in. It will be the same in a few years' time, when it's the next lot of kids.

"While that happens, I don't see United's breeding of players slowing down."

Jurgen Klopp said he could not imagine leaving Liverpool in 2022 after the manager opted to extend his contract.

The German, who led the Premier League giants to Champions League glory last season, extended his deal at Anfield until 2024 on Friday.

Klopp said the position Liverpool were in meant he could not see himself leaving at the end of his previous contract.

"I couldn't imagine I would leave," he told UK newspapers ahead of hosting Watford on Saturday.

"That was the moment I thought we can start thinking about how long do I want to stay? I have no clue how long it will be in the end, but it was not possible for me to imagine that I would leave in 2022 because of the people we have and what we have created here.

"It was not that I went to the club and said, 'come on, let's have a new contract'. The club started the talks and then we realised – together with my family – that it is the right thing to do.

"I liked the idea more and more."

Klopp has been in charge at Liverpool since October 2015, with last season's European success his first piece of silverware.

Asked if he felt a wider responsibility to Liverpool as a whole, Klopp said: "Yes, I feel responsible for a lot of things but I don't think too much about it. 

"People make more of it than it is. I try to help this football club to be in the best possible place and then that has an impact on all the rest of things in the city, I guess. 

"I don't feel responsible for all things in Liverpool - thank God, not. There is already enough I feel responsible for."

Jesse Lingard admits he thought his Manchester United career was over following a social media post during a year in which family problems have taken their toll on his form.

Lingard endured a poor run of performances that cost him his place for his club and England, with a strike in the 2-1 loss to Astana last month ending a 307-day wait to score a goal.

During pre-season, the 26-year-old posted a crude video to Snapchat while on holiday with friends and was disciplined by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Lingard, who insists the footage was published by accident, has now revealed he was given a final warning over his future by Solskjaer after thinking the incident could have ended his time at the club.

The forward, who has been criticised for his social media activity in the past, told the Daily Mail: "It genuinely was a mistake to post it. I have a lot of young followers and I would never put that out there deliberately. It was an accident.

"I was meaning to send it privately to one of my friends. I was on a plane waiting to take off. Someone from the club texted me and said: 'Take the video down.'

"When I realised what I had done, my heart just sank into my stomach. I was like, 'I am done at United now. This is the final straw.'

"I was told the manager was going mad, but I was in the air for two hours and literally couldn't do anything. When I got back, I came in early to speak to the manager and apologise. He said I was on my last chance. He said I had to get my head down and that is what I have done. I am not stupid.

"There is no way I was going to let what I have at this club be taken away. On the whole, I have cut down on my social media stuff now. You do what you have to do."

The incident was a low point in a difficult year for Lingard, who has revealed he has struggled with caring for his younger brother and sister while his mother has been ill.

With Solskjaer - unaware of the problems - pressuring the player into recapturing his best form, Lingard went to the manager to explain his off-the-field concerns, which have also included his grandfather battling cancer and his grandmother being unwell.

"I wasn't performing, and he was on me all the time. He wanted more from me," he said. "So, I felt it was best to get everything off my chest and tell him why my head wasn't right. So, I knocked on his door.

"I am a person who likes to deal with stuff on his own but it's not necessarily the right thing to do. I always use the phrase 'be yourself' but I have realised now that there are times when you just can't be. My dad and older brother, Louie, have been great support but some of this stuff has broken my heart, you know?"

The talk with Solskjaer proved to be a turning point, with Lingard having impressed from the start in last week's wins over Tottenham and Manchester City after an encouraging appearance off the bench in a 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion last month.

"When I came on the manager said to me, 'Just go on and play with a smile and enjoy it.' To hear that gives you confidence. He knows what kind of character I am. I need to be smiling," Lingard said.

"He has just told me that everything will be okay. Maybe I just needed someone to say that. He said he just wanted the old Jesse back and maybe I can give him that now."

Lingard was also grateful to be made captain of his boyhood club for the Europa League game in Astana, as he led out a team of mostly young players.

"That definitely helped with my confidence," he added. "Ole is great at man-management. He made me captain, then we beat Spurs and City and I played. Before the matches I am saying to myself, 'Just play with a smile. It's football and you were born to do it.'"

Paul Pogba says Manchester United's young players must make the most of their chances in the first team as they are playing for "maybe the biggest club in history".

Sunday's Premier League game against Everton at Old Trafford is due to be the 4,000th in a row in which the Red Devils have included at least one academy graduate in the matchday squad.

That run, which stretches back to 1937, has been kept alive by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's commitment to promoting youngsters into the first team this season.

Thursday's 4-0 Europa League defeat of AZ saw nine players with United academy backgrounds included in the squad.

Pogba, who joined United as a 16-year-old, is now encouraging the youngsters at Solskjaer's disposal not to take their opportunities to impress for granted.

"I've said to a lot of the young players who have been with the first team: 'Guys, you don't know how lucky you are.' Unfortunately for us, we've had a lot of injured players and it's therefore a big chance for the young players to be involved with the first team," Pogba, sidelined with an ankle injury since September, told United's website.

"They have the chance to do well and stay there. So, I said to them: 'Take this luck and take this opportunity because it's important until the other players come back fit.' You never know, there could be an injured player and a young player comes in and plays a great game and they stay with the first team until the end of their career.

"So, I've told them: 'Guys, be ready and always take the opportunity.' If they have the quality to be with the first team then why not take the opportunity and play and enjoy yourself?

"Mason [Greenwood], since the first training session that I saw him in, and Brandie [Brandon Williams], Jimmy [James Garner], Angel [Gomes], Chongy [Tahith Chong] and all the players. Axel [Tuanzebe] as well, although I don't see him as a young guy, for me, he has been in the first team for a long time, Timo [Tim Fosu-Mensah] as well, but the younger ones, they have the quality, they have everything to be in the first team.

"They've been playing and having some minutes and they should enjoy it when they're on the pitch and work hard. Mason is scoring goals, Brandie has been playing games like he's been there for six months already. This is about what the club is about and what the manager wants."

Pogba, who is still being linked with a move away from United, continued: "I think and I hope I can help them. This is one of the biggest clubs in the world and maybe the biggest club in history and they have the chance to be in this club. So I say to them: 'Take your chance, play, you are young, you have quality, you have nothing to be afraid of.'

"I hope I can give them the good example when I'm on the pitch and outside the pitch and, even though I don't see myself as old, I hope that the young players will, one day, come and take my position [when I finish playing]. That's how it is, I won't play forever.

"We all give our best on the pitch and I hope these young players will become legends here at the club. They have to enjoy it and really appreciate the chance they have here."

Pogba admitted it was a daunting experience to join the club as a teenager in 2009, when Alex Ferguson was manager.

"When I arrived here, everything felt big!" he said. "The training ground was big, all the players were big, the pitch was big, everything was big and I had my eyes open the whole time. Then I put the shirt on for the first time and I said: 'Wow, I came to Manchester United.' I just couldn't believe it.

"When I started training with the first team, I was 17, and I remember Vida [Nemanja Vidic] was there and Park Ji-sung and I touched Vida and I saw how tough and how strong he was! I knew then I had to work hard to get into the first team.

"It was a really great experience as a young kid to come here at 16 and see everything so big, and see all these top players and a top manager. To be there, having them sat next to us around the training ground, was a dream come true."

Christian Pulisic can give "a lot more" to Chelsea than he has in his Stamford Bridge career to date, according to head coach Frank Lampard.

The United States international did not make a start in the Premier League for almost two months before an explosive performance against Burnley in October saw him score a hat-trick in a 4-2 win.

Further strikes against Watford, Ajax and Valencia followed, but Pulisic has not now registered a goal or an assist in his past four appearances.

Although Lampard has been pleased with his development, he will not let up in the demands he places on the £58million winger.

"I have just mentioned there about conversion of chances. I think he gets himself in so many good positions with his talent and his dribbling ability that I think more goals will be the next stage of that," Lampard told reporters ahead of Chelsea's meeting with Bournemouth on Saturday.

"I am really pleased with him. I have asked a lot of him. He has played a lot of games recently, back to back, in a new league that we know is very physical for him. I am asking a lot, but he has done very well. I expect a lot more."

Fikayo Tomori is one youngster to have impressed consistently for Chelsea this season, and the centre-back was rewarded with a new five-year contract on Thursday.

"He has come a long way, and that is all his own work," Lampard said. "From the moment he came to Derby County [on loan last season], he has shown a work ethic, a want and desire to listen and improve himself.

"His personality has come out even more. He was quite quiet when he first came to Derby; he is less quiet now.

"I think everybody saw his performances in the Championship last year, [he was] Derby Player of the Year. Then [there were] big question marks in the summer over whether he can do it in the Premier League.

"He certainly hasn't proved that yet over a period of time, which is the important thing. But from my point of view, I have full trust in him. I am delighted in him to where he has got to now.

"The important thing now is that he doesn't take anything for granted now that he has got that five-year contract. It is important that the hard work starts again. I am delighted with what he has done."

Lampard is similarly pleased with the progress of full-back Reece James, who has shown signs of real promise when deputising for Cesar Azpilicueta.

"I don't want to compare him to anyone. I just want to concentrate on Reece himself," Lampard said. "He's got a great role model in Azpilicueta, who has been doing it for years here in terms of how he's been playing in recent games.

"His attitude – talk about urgency and intention to get up and down the pitch and give everything and set the tone – I think it's great for Reece to see that as well alongside him every day. But Reece also brings a real quality in his delivery and in his forward play.

"There's work to do with him, he knows that, he's a young player. So, I think he's done really well on his first steps into the team. Again, like some of the other young lads, I expect a lot more from him because I can see the quality in him."

Jurgen Klopp's contract extension at Liverpool pleased his Chelsea counterpart Frank Lampard, who still hopes to "bridge the gap" to the Premier League leaders.

Klopp, who joined Liverpool in 2015, already had a contract at Anfield until 2022, but the Reds managed to secure his long-term future early with Friday's announcement of the new four-and-half-year deal.

It was a just reward for reinvigorating Liverpool, who are a genuine force again both in Europe and the Premier League, having lifted the Champions League trophy last term before dashing to the top of the domestic table this season.

After 16 matches, Liverpool have dropped just two points and are eight clear of second-placed Leicester City at the summit, with Klopp transforming the team into a winning machine with few – if any – notable weaknesses.

As Klopp and Liverpool set the standard, Lampard acknowledged Chelsea have work to do but is looking forward to continuing to take on the German.

"Liverpool are a huge rival now anyway," Lampard told reporters on Friday. "What they've done in recent years…

"Recruitment, their style of play, what Jurgen Klopp has built over a period of a few years is incredible.

"So, congratulations on the new contract. It's fully deserved, that's for sure. They will remain a huge competitor.

"I love going up against the managers of the quality and name of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. You go through the Premier League and there's so many great managers here, so I'm pleased, I'm not disappointed.

"The challenge for us is can we bridge the gap to Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp or no Jurgen Klopp, but congrats on his new contract."

James Milner has extended his contract with Liverpool to prolong his stay at the club beyond the end of this season.

Liverpool have not announced the exact length of the agreement but it is reported to be a two-and-a-half year deal.

The fresh terms for vice-captain Milner came on the same day the club renewed manager Jurgen Klopp's contract until 2024.

Milner, who turns 34 in January, joined the European champions in 2015 on a free transfer from Manchester City and came off the bench in their Champions League final win over Tottenham last season.

His previous deal with Premier League leaders Liverpool was due to expire at the end of the season but he will now remain part of Klopp's squad going forward.

"I've been lucky and privileged to play for this club for four and a half years now," Milner said. "It has been an amazing time seeing how the club is changing and developing."

The fresh terms for Milner capped a productive day for the Reds – who begin their Club World Cup campaign next week – after Klopp's long-term extension.

"Obviously the gaffer waited to sign his dependent on whether I signed mine, so that makes me a feel bit more important!" he joked.

Milner added: "We had discussions with the club and this was obviously the ideal for me, this was what I wanted to do – stay and play at the highest level as long as I can.

"Liverpool is an unbelievable place to be and we're a very, very good football team. I enjoy being part of this football club and hopefully we can keep improving."

Milner has played 198 games for Liverpool, 21 of those appearances coming this season.

"Obviously winning a trophy last year, it's easy to sit back or take your foot off the gas, and we've gone the other way," said Milner.

"You can see the drive in the squad to keep pushing and to try to play at the intensity that we play at every couple of days, which we are at the moment.

"We'll keep striving to keep improving and getting success for this club."

Frank Lampard has no plans to discuss the respective futures of Olivier Giroud, Willian and Pedro before January as the trio prepare to enter the final six months of their Chelsea contracts.

Having had their transfer and registration embargo ended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Chelsea are free to sign new players in January and look set to be active.

Many expected this season to be tough for the Blues given their inability to bring in new recruits in pre-season, but they have surpassed expectations under Lampard and are fourth after 16 matches.

Supporters' outlooks might become more ambitious following the embargo's end, with several areas of Chelsea's squad seemingly in need of reinforcements.

While that could see some of the club's more experienced campaigners shown the door, Lampard insists no such decisions will be made until next month when the transfer window reopens.

Asked if he had spoken to Giroud about his future, Lampard said: "No. All the players that are here, I won't have any talk about January until we get to January. Everybody.

"I am happy for him to stay, as with every player in the squad. I want them to be here for Chelsea, have the right professionalism and right desire to be here.

"He has shown me that in his training every day this season. That's what I am happy with."

On the subject of Willian and Pedro entering the final months of their deals, Lampard added: "It is always an issue for the club as well as myself.

"I obviously, as the manager, have full conversations upstairs. There's a money side and a playing side, so I want players who want to be here and perform well for us.

"I think they both have done that over their careers here. So, that's simple from my point of view. I want good players here."

One player heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in January is Bournemouth's Nathan Ake.

The Dutch defender joined Bournemouth - who visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday - from the Blues in 2017, but Chelsea retained a buy-back clause reportedly worth £40million in the deal.

Lampard seemed unmoved by the significance of the clause, though he acknowledged they should look to bring new players in if they can.

He added: "I don't know how clever it [the buy-back clause] is - it is what it is.

"Nathan came through here and, when he has gone to Bournemouth to be able to play regular football, I think he has done fantastically well. He has shown himself as a really good defender in the Premier League.

"In terms of the back four and with the defence I have, I am very happy. Again, it [signings] won't be anything I consider until I feel otherwise, and at the minute, we can do no business.

"I am happy with the squad, but we have to improve if we can. It is not just my business; in the modern day, since I have been in management and at most clubs, it is a joint-effort. I can put forward a lot and we will work together.

"I will recommend players that can improve us, fit with the style and the way we want to go and come in really hungry. I want people who come here wanting to win and to be a Chelsea player."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Dejan Lovren has a more serious muscle injury than before, adding he cannot put a time frame on the centre-back's recovery.

Lovren went off after 53 minutes of the 2-0 Champions League win away to Salzburg on Tuesday, having managed only 40 minutes of the 3-0 Premier League victory over Bournemouth last weekend.

The defender will miss Saturday's game against Watford at Anfield and Klopp admits he is unsure when the 30-year-old will be able to return.

"He is out, muscle this time – more serious than last time," Klopp told reporters on Friday. "We don't have a time frame."

With Joel Matip also sidelined with a knee injury, Klopp has only Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez as his senior centre-back options amid a gruelling run of fixtures.

After the Watford match, a team largely comprising youth and fringe players will face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, with the rest of the squad in action in a Club World Cup semi-final 24 hours later.

With league games against second-place Leicester City and Wolves to come before the turn of the year, Klopp accepts his lack of defenders is a worry.

"It's a concern," he said. "It's not the first time we are in a situation like this: last year, one game Fabinho played at centre-half. Unfortunately, he is out as well. It's not too cool.

"At the moment we have two – we should take care of them, pack them in cotton wool and ask them what they want to do in training. Apart from that, we have to be creative; we have the kids, of course, with Ki-Jana [Hoever] and Sepp [van den Berg].

"We have defensive-minded midfielders, there are different systems where you can use different kind of defenders as well. That's how it is.

"At the moment, I have a lot of ideas, but I hope for most of them I never have to use them, to be honest."

Klopp, who signed a new contract that runs until 2024 on Friday, will be hoping for a 16th win from 17 league games this season against Watford, as Liverpool aim to maintain their eight-point lead at the top.

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