Erik ten Hag can improve Manchester United's fortunes but will need time to affect change, according to former Ajax and Liverpool midfielder Jari Litmanen.

Ten Hag was appointed manager at Old Trafford in April after a successful period in charge of Ajax, but he suffered a chastening 2-1 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday in his first Premier League game at the helm.

Litmanen had two spells with Ajax during an illustrious playing career, winning five Eredivisie titles, three KNVB Cups and a Champions League crown.

Speaking to Stats Perform at the UEFA fan park in Helsinki ahead of Wednesday's Super Cup, Finland great Litmanen joked when asked if he believed Ten Hag would be a success at United: "I am for Liverpool, so hopefully not!

"I hope the best for Erik. He is a good person and a good coach, he showed that at Ajax, but he needs time.

"They are a big club, and they will get back to the top, but they need time. Competition is high in England so it is going to be difficult, but Erik is a good manager."

Litmanen also raised the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo staying at Old Trafford, despite reportedly asking for a move so he can play in the Champions League this season.

"We will see if he can get the best out of Ronaldo," Litmanen added. "I haven't spoken to Erik so who knows? Maybe Cristiano stays the whole season, he showed he is one of the best goalscorers in history and if he leaves, then someone else will have to take that responsibility."

Litmanen also had an 18-month spell at Liverpool, where he was part of a squad that won the EFL Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup treble in the 2000-01 season.

Although he was used sparingly at Anfield, he did play alongside Reds icon Steven Gerrard, who is now manager of Aston Villa, and Litmanen expects his former team-mate to succeed as a coach in the Premier League.

"Stevie G [Gerrard] is a big name in English football and Liverpool history and he for sure has something to give English football [as a manager]," he said. 

"I was happy to play with him for one and a half years and he is someone who has a great personality."

Georginio Wijnaldum has revealed former Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah was among those who advised him to join Jose Mourinho's Roma.

Having left Liverpool for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer last year, Wijnaldum headed to Roma on a season-long loan deal last week.

Wijnaldum lifted the Champions League and Premier League trophies during a successful five-year spell at Anfield, but his impact was limited during a frustrating 2021-22 campaign in the French capital.

While the Netherlands international made 38 appearances in all competitions for PSG last season, fellow midfielders Danilo Pereira (2,623), Marco Verratti (2,621) and Idrissa Gueye (2,043) all played more than his total of 1,992 minutes for the Ligue 1 winners.

After becoming the latest arrival of a busy transfer window at the Stadio Olimpico, Wijnaldum said former Giallorossi winger Salah, alongside Kevin Strootman and PSG wing-back Achraf Hakimi, encouraged him to move to Italy.  

"First of all, I wanted to come because of the effort the club put in to sign me as a player," Wijnaldum told a news conference on Tuesday. 

"Also, I spoke with Mo Salah and Kevin Strootman about Roma, about the club and the city, and I only heard good stories about it. 

"I even spoke with Achraf Hakimi about it, even though he played at Inter Milan, he said [Roma] was a beautiful club and a beautiful place and I would be happy here. So that convinced me a lot.

"I know the club, we played them twice when I was at Liverpool [in the Champions League in 2018], and the atmosphere at the Olimpico was amazing – so I knew that I would be playing for a club with a great atmosphere and beautiful supporters.

"But that was basically the only thing I knew, so I asked for some advice from Mo and Strootman and they had good stories." 

Wijnaldum has joined the likes of Nemanja Matic and Paulo Dybala in signing for Roma ahead of the new Serie A campaign, and added the influence of Mourinho was another factor in his decision to head to Italy.

"When I arrived, we spoke more about football things. I think his record as a manager speaks for itself," the midfielder said of the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss.

"The things he did in football, the prizes he won and the clubs he managed, it's unbelievable. 

"I think every player wants to work with him and I am the same. From the moment I spoke to him, I told myself I really wanted to join the club – but that was the case even before.

"I think the thing that convinced me the most was the amount of effort the club, through Mr [director of football, Tiago] Pinto and the manager, put in to sign me. At that moment I felt really wanted and appreciated by the club and that helped me make the decision."

Fulham's social media admins were able to have some fun at Jurgen Klopp's expense on Sunday, as they took a cheeky swipe at the Liverpool manager's post-match comments.

Klopp lamented Liverpool's display in their Premier League opener at Craven Cottage, with the early kick-off on Saturday finishing 2-2.

He told BT Sport: "The best thing about the game is the result, that we got a point from a really bad game for my side. Now the question is how can that happen."

However, Klopp – who has a previous track record of using pitch or weather conditions to excuse a slightly below-par display – couldn't help but mention that "the pitch was dry".

A throwaway comment it may have been, and in the wider context it was clear Klopp was far more frustrated with his team than the pitch, but that did not stop the comments going viral on social media.

On Sunday, Fulham took the opportunity to crack a joke, tweeting a photo from prior to kick-off on Saturday at Craven Cottage, showing sprinklers watering the pitch with the accompanying caption: "The Craven Cottage turf looking absolutely lush yesterday."

Fulham's jibe might well be used against them when they travel to Anfield later in the season - ask Brighton and Hove Albion how social media posts can be reversed for likes and  retweets - but they at least took the chance to get one over on Liverpool's manager.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag remains keen to bolster his squad before the end of the transfer window.

The Dutchman, who took over at Old Trafford this off-season, wants to improve his front-line options, along with his midfield with Fabian Ruiz and Frenkie de Jong linked.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial along with Cristiano Ronaldo will likely lead the line for United this campaign.

TOP STORY – UNITED IN SURPRISE BID FOR BAYERN'S SANE

The Mirror reports that Manchester United have made a shock move to sign Bayern Munich's former Manchester City forward Leroy Sane.

United have made an enquiry with the Bundesliga champions about the 26-year-old Germany international's availability.

Sane's role at Bayern has been jeopardized by Sadio Mane's arrival, clouding his future, with Liverpool also interested in him according to the Liverpool Echo.


ROUND-UP

–  Manchester United may use Donny van de Beek in a swap deal in their pursuit of Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, claims the Express. Goal reports that the Red Devils are also considering Napoli's Fabian Ruiz as an alternative if they fail to win De Jong's signature.

United are set to miss out on target Benjamin Sesko who has decided to stay with Austrian champions Salzburg, according to Sky Sport Austria. Chelsea and RB Leipzig were also keen on the 19-year-old Slovenian.

Real Madrid are plotting a move for Bayer Leverkusen's teenage Spanish forward Iker Bravo, according to Marca. Atletico Madrid are also interested in the 17-year-old who made his Bundesliga debut last year.

– The Sun claims that West are in for free agent Dan-Axel Zagadou amid interest from Roma. French defender Zagadou left Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season.

– Free agent Edinson Cavani will join Argentine giants Boca Juniors claims Fabrizio Romano. The Uruguayan left Manchester United in the off season and has been linked with Villarreal among other clubs.

Jurgen Klopp has ruled out any panic buying from Liverpool after Thiago Alcantara suffered a hamstring injury in the 2-2 draw at Fulham.

Thiago had to be withdrawn early in the second half of the Reds' first game of the Premier League season at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Liverpool face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the damage the Spain international sustained in London.

Klopp has already lost fellow midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) and Curtis Jones (calf) to injury, while Naby Keita missed the clash with the Cottagers due to illness.

The Reds boss says there will be no knee-jerk reaction if Thiago is facing a lengthy absence.

He told reporters: "I know what will now come up, it's clear. We said we don't need a midfielder because we have enough – and we actually have enough, but the problem now is we get punished for something that is not our responsibility really because things like this can happen. 

"Nobody could image that Curtis gets the thing he gets; it is nothing serious, but he is a young boy and it is a kind of stress reaction. Bodies are like this.

"Naby is only ill and he will now be back definitely next week again. Oxlade happened early and now with Thiago that is, of course, not good and we will see. 

"Look, a transfer must make sense now and in the long-term; we have midfielders, we have still enough midfielders. It is not that we lack midfielders, but it's just some of them are injured. 

"This is not a good situation, I don't like it at all, but we have to see how we react on that – but for sure not panicking."

Liverpool twice came from behind to salvage a point against Marco Silva's promoted side, Darwin Nunez coming off the bench to score on his Premier League debut and laying on a goal for Mohamed Salah following an Aleksandar Mitrovic double.

Jurgen Klopp conceded Liverpool must be happy with a point after "a really bad game" against Fulham.

The Reds, who looked sharp in defeating Manchester City 3-1 in last week's Community Shield, were unable to hit their best form on Saturday as they opened their Premier League campaign with a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored Fulham's opener in the first half, but Liverpool hit back through substitute Darwin Nunez's first Premier League goal.

Mitrovic then became the first player to score twice for a promoted team on the opening day of a Premier League season since Steve Mounie for Huddersfield Town in 2017 when he netted from the penalty spot after drawing a foul from Virgil van Dijk.

Yet Liverpool had the resolve to restore parity for a second time, Nunez involved again when he perhaps inadvertently nudged down to Mohamed Salah, who swept home his eighth goal on the opening day of a Premier League campaign, the joint-highest total along with Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney.

Liverpool have now gained 115 points from losing positions under Klopp in the Premier League, the most of any side since the German took over in October 2015, but he was far from pleased with what he saw in west London.

Klopp told BT Sport: "The best thing about the game is the result, that we got a point from a really bad game for my side. Now the question is how can that happen.

"The energy was not right in the beginning, then we wanted to fight back but it is not easy. The pitch was dry, we played really into their hands most of the time. When we found a bit of direction and ended up in front of their goal, we had the bigger chances.

"The result is fine, I don't think we deserved more than that, the performance… massively improvable.

"We cannot always hug the boys. We do that usually when they deserve it. When you start a game in a specific way that was opposite to how we wanted to start, really completely opposite, we didn't find direction. Everyone was under pressure, we couldn't break the lines, which was a clear message. We never had momentum.

"We could have won the game, we had the bigger chances, but that would probably have been a bit too much today."

Liverpool had some complaints about Fulham's opener, with Jordan Henderson claiming he had been fouled by Joao Palhinha in the build-up, though VAR did not intervene.

"It doesn't have to be deliberate, I think it's that they don't go back that far, that's the thing," said Klopp when asked about the incident.

"This result was not about the referee, but we discussed the situation in a Premier League meeting that the refs don't want to go that far back. I'm not sure how far back it was. If it was a foul, it would have been nice, but he saw it differently."

While Nunez became just the third player in Premier League history to both score and assist off the bench on his debut in the competition, Mitrovic has now scored 45 goals in English league football since the start of last season, 16 more than any other player.

Mitrovic managed only three top-flight goals in the 2020-21 season, but Fulham boss Marco Silva was thrilled with the striker's performance.

"Mitro is not just goals, if someone thinks that, forget [it]," Silva said on BT Sport. "The job he did this afternoon, for the team, his pressure, helping the midfielders, the back line… after that, if you deliver for him, he'll score.

"I have to congratulate him, the work he did without the ball he did was fantastic. He knows that, I demand that from him."

Darwin Nunez scored one goal and set up an equaliser for Mohamed Salah as Liverpool twice came from behind draw 2-2 at Fulham in their first Premier League game of the season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic headed top-flight new boys Fulham into a deserved first-half lead, but Nunez came off the bench to equalise at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Mitrovic restored the Cottagers' lead with a penalty after he was upended by Virgil van Dijk with 18 minutes remaining, but Salah poked in from close range after Nunez laid the ball into his path to salvage a point before Jordan Henderson hit the woodwork in stoppage time.

It is a record six consecutive seasons Salah has scored in Liverpool's opening match of a Premier League season, but they did not do enough to win it and also lost Thiago Alcantara to a hamstring injury.

Manchester United are reportedly willing to meet Salzburg's £41.8million asking price for 19-year-old Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko.

Sesko, who does not turn 20 until next May and measures in at 195cm tall, scored 11 goals in 37 games last season, and he opened the new Bundesliga campaign with a goal and an assist in a 3-0 win over Austria Vienna.

According to The Athletic, United decided against signing Sesko for £2.5m as a 16-year-old, and they will now have to pay up to secure the services of the in-demand forward.


TOP STORY – UNITED PLAN BIG MOVE FOR TOWERING SLOVENIAN STRIKER

The report from Express calls Sesko "a priority target" for new boss Erik ten Hag, but also mentions that the Austrian club is extremely high on him as a prospect – going as far as comparing his future to that of former Salzburg man Erling Haaland.

Meanwhile, Sport Klub claims Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are also monitoring the situation, and that Sesko and Salzburg will be meeting in the next week to make a firm decision on his future.

Sesko is also Slovenia's youngest-ever international debutant, having debuted one day after his 18th birthday, and became their youngest international goalscorer a few months later.


ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato claims Tottenham are set to sign 19-year-old defender and Manchester City target Destiny Udogie from Udinese for a deal in the range of £25m.

– The Mirror is reporting that Everton have swooped in to land West Ham target Amadou Onana from Lille with a fee of £33.7m.

Leeds United are making a £22m bid for Paris Saint-Germain forward Arnaud Kalimuendo, according to the Sun.

– A Sky Sports report states Crystal Palace are interested in bringing back defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka from United.

– Liverpool are exploring a potential £50m move to bring in Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to 90min.

From a false nine to a true nine, Manchester City will roll out Erling Haaland as last season's Premier League champions show off their marquee addition.

City won the 2021-22 Premier League with 93 points despite lacking a target man, pipping Liverpool on the final day of the campaign.

Liverpool, unlucky to come home second on 92 points, have made a big investment in buying Darwin Nunez from Benfica, a penalty-box predator like Haaland.

The 90-point mark is widely seen as a benchmark for a team's greatness, but managers always see room for improvement.

Here, Stats Perform looks at how 90-point-plus teams from seasons past have bolstered their ranks, and how they got on afterwards.

100 POINTS

Manchester City are the only team in Premier League history to hit the 100-point mark, doing so in 2017-18, and they offloaded former kingpins Joe Hart and Yaya Toure at the end of that campaign, making just one big investment by signing Riyad Mahrez (£60million) from Leicester City.

Already a Premier League title winner with the Foxes, the Algerian winger has added three more league medals in Manchester, including one in his first season.

99 POINTS

Liverpool denied City a hat-trick of consecutive titles by triumphing in the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-20 championship, finishing 18 points clear of Pep Guardiola's team. The Reds then spent the thick end of £75million to acquire Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, Diogo Jota from Wolves and Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiacos.

They recouped around half of that by selling Dejan Lovren, Ki-Jana Hoever and Rhian Brewster, before finishing with 30 fewer points in the following campaign.

98 POINTS

City's encore to their ton-up season was made remarkable by the fact Liverpool were hot on their heels, finishing just one point back. This 2018-19 title-winning effort by City was followed by captain Vincent Kompany taking flight for Anderlecht, while Danilo, Eliaquim Mangala, Fabian Delph and Douglas Luiz also said goodbye.

Guardiola invested wisely as Rodri (£62.8m from Atletico Madrid) and Joao Cancelo (£60million from Juventus) arrived. Both became staple members of the City side, but their first season on Premier League duty, as Liverpool romped to glory in front of empty stadiums, was probably best forgotten.

97 POINTS

Liverpool must have wondered what it would take to topple City after the seismic 2018-19 campaign, although the Reds' Champions League win showed they were firmly on the right track. This 97-point haul is the highest total any Premier League runner-up has secured.

Jurgen Klopp decided no big adjustments were required, investing in Takumi Minamino from Salzburg (£7.25m) and Harvey Elliott from Fulham (£1.5m, rising to £4.3m). He had done his serious spending the previous year, securing Naby Keita, Fabinho and Alisson.

95 POINTS

When big-spending Chelsea landed a then-record 95 points in the 2004-05 campaign, the response from the Blues, in the headiest phase of the Roman Abramovich era, was to splash more cash.

Shaun Wright-Phillips (£21m) and Michael Essien (£24.4m) were newcomers as Jose Mourinho evicted Mikael Forssell, Scott Parker, Mateja Kezman and Tiago. The result of that trading? A second consecutive title as the Premier League points mercury rose up into the 90s again.

93 POINTS

Two teams have had 93-point seasons: Chelsea in 2016-17 and Manchester City in 2021-22. Chelsea's post-season dealings were especially notable for captain John Terry moving on to Aston Villa. The club cashed in as Juan Cuadrado went to Juventus, Nathan Ake and Asmir Begovic left for Bournemouth and Nemanja Matic joined Manchester United. They acquired Antonio Rudiger (£31m), Tiemoue Bakayoko (£40m), Alvaro Morata (£60m), Davide Zappacosta (£23m) and Danny Drinkwater (£35m). The spree didn't help much, though. Chelsea trailed in fifth in 2017-18, Antonio Conte sacked despite an FA Cup win.

City made Haaland their priority this year but also added England midfielder Kalvin Phillips (£42m) and goalkeeper Stefan Ortega (free), while Julian Alvarez (£14m) arrived after being signed in January. Fernandinho, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Raheem Sterling left.

92 POINTS

Manchester United were the first Premier League side to top 90 points, in 1993-94, albeit in a 42-game competition. After that title, United's second in succession, Bryan Robson left to become player-boss at Middlesbrough and David May (£1.4m) was bought from Blackburn Rovers. United went chasing a hat-trick of titles in the subsequent season but found big-spending Blackburn too strong. The record £7million arrival of Andy Cole midway through the campaign could not rescue Alex Ferguson's side, who tallied 88 points, one fewer than the champions.

Liverpool's 92-point season came last time out. It remains to be seen how Nunez (£64m) copes with the Premier League spotlight. Among a string of departures was Sadio Mane, who left for Bayern Munich. Mane scored 90 goals in 196 Premier League games with Liverpool.

91 POINTS

Manchester United followed their treble campaign with a 91-point haul in 1999-2000, before signing up France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez (£7.8m). They tallied 80 points in 2000-01, enough to finish 10 clear of second-placed Arsenal.

With Wright-Phillips and Essien on board, Chelsea notched 91 points in 2005-06. At the end of that season, the Blues swooped for Michael Ballack (free), Andriy Shevchenko (£30m), Arsenal's Ashley Cole (£5m, plus William Gallas) and John Obi Mikel (£16m). They were second best to Manchester United in the following season's Premier League, but enjoyed FA Cup and EFL Cup wins.

90 POINTS

Two teams have scraped the 90-point mark, Arsenal doing so in their 'Invincibles' season of 2003-04, with 26 wins and 12 draws. They signed young Dutchman Robin van Persie (£2.75m) towards the end of that campaign and he arrived in the summer. Newcomer Mourinho led Chelsea to the following year's title, with Arsenal runners-up.

Manchester United got to 90 in 2008-09 – Cristiano Ronaldo's last season before his £80million Real Madrid switch. Manager Ferguson then brought in Antonio Valencia (£16m), Michael Owen (free), Gabriel Obertan (£3m) and Mame Biram Diouf (£4million), with Valencia the only one to become a regular. With Ronaldo gone, Chelsea edged out United by a point for the following year's title.

Mohamed Salah is ready to light up the Premier League again after committing his long-term future to Liverpool, claims Jurgen Klopp.

Last season's Golden Boot joint-winner, who shared the prize with Tottenham's Son Heung-min, signed a three-year contract last month to calm fears he could quit Anfield.

Salah's previous deal was due to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season, when he would have been able to walk away as a free agent.

Now that Liverpool have him tied down to fresh terms, the player and club can focus on chasing more trophies, having lifted the FA Cup and EFL Cup last term.

"Knowing where he will be for the next important years of his career – I wouldn't say for the rest of his career because he can play much longer – that gave all of us a boost, him as well," Klopp said.

"It's much better than if there was any contract [to resolve] next summer."

Thirty-year-old Salah's new deal served as a pick-me-up for a club who were pipped at the post for the Premier League and Champions League titles in late May, dashing hopes of an unprecedented quadruple.

There is likely to be at least one new challenger for the league's top scorer prize in the new season, with Erling Haaland having arrived at Manchester City after racking up 86 goals in 89 games for Borussia Dortmund.

Liverpool's new recruit Darwin Nunez may also have an eye on the honour, but Klopp suspects Salah will only be interested in the Golden Boot when the season nears an end.

"People are motivated by different things and i think Mo's biggest motivation is to win football games and to score," Klopp said.

"I don't think he looks about other players and how many they've scored. That may be in May when he has hopefully 34 or 35 and the other two have 32. Then maybe, but before that I can't see that."

Klopp has no doubt Salah would have been motivated to perform even if he had just months left to run on his Anfield deal, but the Liverpool manager accepts there would have been incessant talk about such a scenario.

"Mo would have been the same person, I'm 100 per cent sure he could have pushed that aside as long as he was only with us," Klopp said. "But the world does not stop asking, and that's a problem we are constantly facing.

"It helps, it's much better to know as much as possible, even about the season after."

Salah could match a record in their opening game of the season, with Liverpool tackling Fulham on Saturday.

He has scored in Liverpool's first Premier League game in each of the past five seasons and has seven matchday-one goals to his name, meaning he stands one short of a competition record that is held jointly by Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, who managed eight each.

The former England trio are three of the Premier League's all-time goalscoring greats, with Shearer's 260 strikes putting him top of the pile. Rooney (208) and Lampard (177) sit second and sixth on the Premier League era goals list.

Salah has scored 118 Premier League goals in 180 outings for Liverpool, putting him 10 away from matching Robbie Fowler's club record in the competition.

Jurgen Klopp believes "massive talent" Fabio Carvalho can dazzle in the Premier League with Liverpool ahead of the teenager's Fulham reunion.

The first Saturday of the English top-flight season sees Liverpool travel to tackle last season's Championship winners, who return to the elite after a traumatic 2020-21 relegation.

Fulham have yo-yoed between the Championship and Premier League over recent years, having two single-season spells among the big boys and three promotions.

Portuguese winger Carvalho scored 10 goals and had eight assists in 36 Championship games for Fulham last season, leading to a £5million switch to Anfield.

"He's a top player. I really love it," said Klopp. "He's a massive talent and a really good kid. I'm really happy to have him, it's very important for us because we count on this age group as well.

"We don't wait until they're 22, 23, or whatever, and then we use them. He's ready like Harvey [Elliott] is ready, in a similar age group.

"And that's really good. We all need luck in life with injuries and stuff like this, but without that he will be a really important player for us."

Midfielder Elliott also joined Liverpool from Fulham, three years ago in his case. Both players are 19, with Carvalho coming up for his 20th birthday on August 30, and Klopp quipped that Liverpool's buys from the Cottagers carry echoes of a former spending habit.

"It's like with Southampton in the past," Klopp said, harking back to deals for the likes of Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Virgil van Dijk.

Carvalho had a fleeting introduction to the Premier League as a fringe figure with Fulham in their relegation campaign, and will hope to be more involved with Liverpool.

Saturday's game might look like a mismatch, but closer examination suggests Liverpool will need to be sharp to avoid an early slip-up.

Two seasons ago, when bossed by Scott Parker, Fulham became the first side to fail to reach double figures for goals in home league games in English league history, netting just nine in 19 games in their relegation campaign.

They are winless in their last 10 Premier League games (D2 L8), yet their last top-flight victory came against Liverpool in March 2021.

Indeed, Fulham also managed a 1-1 home draw against Klopp's team in that campaign, as Liverpool suffered a hangover from their previous title-winning season.

The Cottagers' four points against the Reds was their joint-most against any opponent, with Fulham also taking four against Sheffield United and West Brom, who joined them in tumbling into the second tier.

Encouragement for Liverpool comes in knowing that on the five previous occasions Fulham have been promoted to the top flight, they have then lost their first league match of the season, doing so in 1949-50, 1959-60, 2001-02, 2018-19 and 2020-21.

Some will expect Marco Silva's team to be easily picked off by Liverpool, who were runners-up to champions Manchester City in May, but Klopp does not see it that way.

"Fulham is doing really well and did extremely well last year," Klopp said.

"I met Marco at a managers' meeting in London. Getting promoted but playing football is one of the harder things to do in the Championship. He gets all my respect and that's what Fulham did."

Klopp lost his first Premier League meeting with Silva in February 2017, with his side beaten 2-0 away at Hull. Since then, though, Klopp is unbeaten in his last four against the Portuguese in the competition (W2 D2), with the most recent being a 5-2 win against Silva's Everton.

Liverpool secured Mohamed Salah on an extended contract during the off season, and the Egyptian will be looking for a familiar fast start to a season.

He has scored in Liverpool's Premier League opener in each of his past five seasons with the club, the only player in the competition to have ever put such a run together. Salah has seven goals in all on matchday one in the competition, one shy of the record held jointly by Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney.

Jurgen Klopp drew a parallel between the burden on footballers and the climate change crisis as the Liverpool boss attacked powerbrokers for refusing to take meaningful action.

Speaking in a news conference ahead of his team's opening match of the new Premier League season, Klopp railed at the approaching prospect of a mid-season World Cup.

He takes his team to London to tackle Fulham on Saturday, but he then stands to lose many of his top stars in November when they travel to Qatar to represent their countries.

Klopp is irate that such a tournament can be jammed into a season that he would already expect to be busy for Liverpool, and his perception is that nobody is listening to his complaints and concerns.

"It's just not OK," Klopp said. "It was decided long ago for, how everybody says, the right reasons."

When Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup in a December 2010 vote, it was expected the tournament would be played in its usual June-July slot, but average temperatures for that time of year meant it was not feasible to take place then.

It was confirmed in 2015 that it would be played in November and December instead, and Klopp is braced for his players to be mentally and physically exhausted by playing such an intense tournament during the usual timeframe of a Premier League campaign.

Games in England's top flight will not take place while the World Cup happens, and that means it will be supremely busy either side of the global tournament. 

Klopp told assembled reporters: "I was not angry at all before I came in, but when we start talking about it, I really get angry.

"My problem is that as much as everybody knows it's not right, nobody talks often enough about it that it will be changed.

"You can't have top-class players and constantly watch them, [and think] 'Oh my god, how they're great'. It just doesn't work.

"It's like with the climate. We all know we have to change, but nobody's saying, 'What do we have to do?'"

England has seen record temperatures during its current summer, leading to climate fears being raised by campaigners, and Klopp feels football is heading towards a tipping point.

He said: "Why we wouldn't talk about that and do it properly, and say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, FIFA, UEFA, Premier League and FA, please start talking to each other'.

"There must be one meeting where they all sit together, and the only subtext should be the most important part of this game – the players – and that didn't happen yet.

"This World Cup happens at the wrong moment for the wrong reasons, but everything is fine."

Just 11 weeks have passed since Manchester City lifted the Premier League title to bring down the curtain on the 2021-22 Premier League campaign, yet plenty has changed ahead of the start of the new season.

City have undergone a facelift of sorts, with Erling Haaland their marquee arrival of the window, while last term's runners-up Liverpool have replaced the ever-reliable Sadio Mane with Darwin Nunez in attack.

The chasing pack have also been busy as they desperately attempt to keep pace with City and Liverpool, but the exciting signings of the close season to date have not been solely reserved by those competing in the upper echelons.

With the 2022-23 season getting underway on Friday, Stats Perform picks out 10 players we are most looking forward to seeing in action in the Premier League for the very first time.

 

Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Arguably the highest-profile signing of the transfer window, Haaland arrives at City with a reputation of being one of Europe's most ruthless goalscorers at the age of just 22.

Haaland was prolific during his short time at Salzburg and scored 86 goals in 89 appearances in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund.

That is a tally bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (122) and Kylian Mbappe (89) across the same period, both of whom played 19 games more.

Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

Liverpool will also have a new frontman this campaign after spending an initial £64million (€75m) to bring in Nunez from Benfica.

While not a direct like-for-like replacement for Mane, the Uruguay international will have to both score goals on a regular basis and also help to get the best out of his fellow attackers, such as Mohamed Salah. 

The figures suggest Nunez should be well up to the task, with his conversion rate of 27.2 per cent being the highest of all players with 55 or more non-penalty shots in Europe's top-six leagues last season.

Ivan Perisic (Tottenham)

Tottenham were successful in getting the majority of their transfer business out the way early on, giving Antonio Conte a chance to integrate the likes of Clement Lenglet, Djed Spence, Richarlison and Yves Bissouma into his squad.

Each of those will add something different, but it is Perisic who is the most intriguing signing of the lot. Regularly linked with a switch to the Premier League, the former Dortmund, Inter and Bayern winger finally gets a chance to test himself in England's top flight. 

Among many other qualities, Perisic created the most chances following ball carries – defined as any instance when a player moves five-or-more metres with the ball – of any player in Serie A in 2021-22 (26), showing he can still be a menace out wide even at the age of 33.

Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United)

New head coach Erik ten Hag has largely stuck to what he knows when it comes to Manchester United's transfer activity in his first window in charge. Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Martinez have all either worked under Ten Hag or have strong connections with the Eredivisie.

Eriksen is already an established name in English football, whereas Malacia and Martinez are gearing up for their first taste of the Premier League. While Malacia is expected to be used as a squad player, Martinez will surely be a regular in the heart of defence if his £48m (€57m) price tag is anything to go by.

Despite concerns being raised over his lack of height, Martinez boasted an aerial duel success rate of 70.2 per cent in the Eredivisie last season, which was fourth-best return of any player.

Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)

Another perennially linked Premier League player, Koulibaly has joined Chelsea after eight years as a Napoli player. Following the departures of centre-backs Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger after the expiration of their contracts, Koulibaly will have to hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge.

If his time with Napoli is anything to go by, Chelsea will have a solid and reliable player in the heart of their defence for the next few years. Across his time in Naples, no defender in Serie A won more tackles (344) or made more successful passes (14,528) than the Senegal international.

Fabio Vieira (Arsenal)

Arsenal mean serious business ahead of Mikel Arteta's third full season in charge. The Spaniard has used his Man City links to recruit Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, having already added Vieira to the squad earlier in the window.

Central midfield was not exactly an area Arsenal were light, yet Arteta felt the need to strengthen and in Vieira he has a player with experience of winning a couple of league titles with Porto prior to turning 22.

In contrast to legendary Arsenal namesake Patrick, the Portugal Under-21 international is more accustomed to playing high up the field and recorded the most assists (14) of any Porto player in the league last season, while also chipping in with six goals of his own. 

Tyler Adams (Leeds United)

Leeds escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season – now they must do so again without their most important player following Kalvin Phillips' move to Man City. 

Plenty of eyes will be on Adams in the holding midfield position, the United States international having arrived at Elland Road on the back of three years with New York Red Bulls, followed by three more years with sister club RB Leipzig.

Adams recovered possession an average of 5.69 times per 90 minutes across his 24 Bundesliga appearances last season, which is nearly half the number Phillips (10.2) managed in the Premier League – the best return of any player with 900+ minutes in the competition.

Boubacar Kamara (Aston Villa)

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has quietly gone about his transfer business ahead of his first full season in Premier League management. The signing of Kamara, a defensive midfielder by trade, went somewhat under the radar given it was announced just a day after the previous season finished.

Kamara was a big part of Marseille's strong 2021-22 campaign, which saw them finish second in Ligue 1 and reach the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League.

Of midfielders in the French top division in last season, only Johan Gastien and Jordan Ferri made more than Kamara's 2,383 passes, while of those who made over 1,000 passes, only five players had better accuracy than his 90.68 per cent.

Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham)

It says an awful lot about the work carried out by David Moyes at West Ham over the past two seasons that finishing seventh last time out – a drop from sixth the year before – was considered a disappointment.

If Moyes' men are to once again challenge on multiple fronts this coming season, bringing in a player who knows how to find the net was always going to be imperative. In Scamacca, West Ham appear to have exactly that.

The Italy international scored 16 goals in 36 Serie A appearances for mid-table Sassuolo last season and converted 70.59 per cent of his big chances, a figure only bettered by Gianluca Caprari (83.33) and Dusan Vlahovic (73.91) among players to hit double figures.

Aaron Hickey (Brentford)

Brentford have broken their transfer record multiple times this window to help build on an impressive first ever campaign in the Premier League. Christian Eriksen may have departed, but other areas have been strengthened, including in defence.

The £14m (€16.6m) signing of Hickey from Bologna arguably strengthens Brentford in both full-back departments, given the Scotland international's versatility with both feet. 

He also has an eye for goal, having netted five times in the Italian top flight and assisted another last season. Among Serie A defenders in the 2021-22 season, only Genoa's Domenico Criscito (six) and Nahuel Molina (seven) of Udinese scored more goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo faces an uncertain Manchester United future, but he stands to pass a string of landmarks if he stays and plays for Erik ten Hag this season.

Tottenham's Harry Kane, set to captain England at the World Cup later in the year, is chasing a significant club landmark.

And guess who will join Mohamed Salah in bidding to set an opening-day career goals record.

Of course, it's......  Jamie Vardy.

As the new season gets under way on Friday, Stats Perform looks at the records and milestones coming into view.

KANE, RONALDO, HAALAND: TARGETS IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF THE BIG GUNS

What role Ronaldo has to play remains in the balance, given he appears keen to leave United for a second time.

But if the 37-year-old features for the Red Devils, he can begin to chase down landmarks. For starters, he is just four victories short of having had a hand in 150 United wins in the Premier League, having drawn 43 times and lost 37 while a member of the team across his two Old Trafford spells.

Ronaldo is a mere six goals away from becoming the first player to amass 500 goals in Europe's top five leagues. His record 494 goals to date have come from 616 league matches. On his heels, however, is perennial rival Lionel Messi, once of Barcelona and now at Paris Saint-Germain (480 goals in 546 league games).

Kane is 17 away from hitting the 200-goal mark in the Premier League, a total only ever achieved by Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208). Sergio Aguero (184) and Andy Cole (187), third and fourth on the Premier League era list, are poised to be knocked down a peg as Kane continues his assault on the league record.

Both Leicester City's Vardy and Liverpool's Salah will be looking to equal or break the Premier League matchday one goals record, which is currently held jointly by Shearer, Frank Lampard and Rooney (eight goals). Vardy and Salah have seven each, like the retired Teddy Sheringham and Aguero.

Manchester City new boy Erling Haaland has caused a sensation with his goalscoring wherever he has played, dazzling for Molde, Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund and Norway. He could become the seventh Norwegian to score on his Premier League debut, and the third to do so in the opening game of a season, after Tore Andre Flo for Chelsea in 1997-98 and Adama Diomande in 2016-17 with Hull City.

DESERVES A LONG SERVICE MEDAL

Liverpool's James Milner, fresh from signing a new one-year contract, is 12 short of reaching 600 Premier League games. Only three players have reached that mark to date: Gareth Barry (653), Ryan Giggs (632) and Lampard (609).

Milner made his Premier League debut for Leeds United as a 16-year-old in November 2002, so a 20-year anniversary is approaching for the former England midfielder.

David Moyes was already a Premier League manager by the time Milner made his first appearance. At Everton then, he has done the rounds since and is a mere two games away from completing 1,000 matches in all competitions as a manager in English football.

Now at West Ham, Moyes looks to be at the opposite end of his touchline career to Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager who is one away from bringing up his first 50 wins as a Premier League boss.

STICK AROUND LONG ENOUGH...

Only six teams have been constant members of the Premier League since its first year in 1992-93. Completing the first 30 seasons without suffering the indignity of relegation have been Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal. Sooner or later, all sorts of landmarks arrive for these league lynchpins.

Arsenal have lost 249 Premier League games and headed into Friday night's season opener against Crystal Palace under threat of becoming the 13th side to lose 250. They would have had the longest wait to lose 250, however, having already played four games more than Chelsea, who took the longest (1,148 games) of those to have reached the not-so-desirable milestone.

Tottenham, another of those stalwart sides, are just five away from becoming the fifth team to score 1,000 goals at home in the competition (Manchester United 1,214, Liverpool 1,156, Arsenal 1,154, Chelsea 1,121).

Chelsea are 27 shy of 2,000 goals, home or away, having plundered 1,973 in their 1,152 games to date.

Aston Villa and Newcastle United are both 12 short of losing 400 Premier League games. Only West Ham (408) and Everton (414) have lost more games than those sides, who will hope to avoid spilling over that barrier this season.

West Ham are four away from reaching 1,000 Premier League games, while promoted Nottingham Forest are two away from 200.

MAKING UP THE NUMBERS

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson needs one assist to become only the second defender to register 50 Premier League assists, after Leighton Baines (Wigan, Everton). Robertson has 49, with Baines managing 53 across his career.

Aston Villa veteran Ashley Young and Tottenham new arrival Richarlison are two shy of reaching 50 Premier League goals, while Newcastle's former Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope is four away from 50 clean sheets in the competition.

Brighton and Hove Albion are two away from 50 wins, with Aston Villa four short of 300 draws, a tally that only Everton (320) have reached.

Southampton need four victories to reach 100 away wins, and Aston Villa want four three-pointers on the road to reach their 150 wins. Leicester, on the other hand, are four away from 150 Premier League away defeats. Brendan Rodgers will hope to fend off that landmark until well into the new campaign.

The Premier League is approaching a landmark age: on August 15, the competition will be 30 years old, with that date ultimately ushering in a golden era for English football.

Although we may be 10 days away from that particular milestone, Friday sees the latest edition of the Premier League kick off with Crystal Palace and Arsenal contesting the opening game of the 2022-23 campaign at Selhurst Park.

As such, it only seems right to jump the gun a little and look back on the first 30 years of what many believe has become the greatest league in world football.

So, buckle up as Stats Perform takes you on a trip down memory lane…

Managing expectations

This is classic 'pub quiz' territory: which manager has presided over the most Premier League games?

You know it's either Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, don't you? You probably end up going for the Manchester United icon because of his sheer longevity.

Alas, you'd be wrong.

Wenger took charge of 18 more Premier League games (828) than 'Fergie' before he brought his long Arsenal career to a close.

Nevertheless, Ferguson's 13 titles look unlikely to ever be matched. His closest rival in that respect is Pep Guardiola (four), with Wenger joined on three by Jose Mourinho.

Play on, player

Over the first 30 seasons of the Premier League, 4,488 players have appeared in the competition at an average of 149.6 debutants per campaign.

If we ignore the inaugural season for obvious reasons, the campaign with the most debutants was 2015-16 when 162 players made their Premier League bows.

Of the nearly 4,500 individuals to feature in the competition, Gareth Barry sits clear with the most appearances (653), the last of which came during the 2017-18 season with West Brom.

It's a record that will take some beating, but if anyone's got a chance of toppling him, it's his former Manchester City team-mate James Milner.

The 36-year-old, now of Liverpool, is fourth on the all-time list with 588 outings.

Forever young

Everyone loves a 'wonderkid'. The Premier League has seen more than its fair share over the years, and some got started very, very young.

Mark Platts was the first 16-year-old to ever play in the Premier League when he made his Sheffield Wednesday debut in February 1996.

When Matthew Briggs came along 11 years later and featured for Fulham at 16 years and 68 days old, you'd have been forgiven for thinking his record would stand the test of time.

It lasted 12 years until another Fulham player shaved 38 days off Briggs' record – that player was Harvey Elliott. Now at Liverpool, the young midfielder looks set for a glittering career.

The name of the game

Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah, Wayne Rooney – when you think of Premier League goalscorers, these are probably the names that immediately spring to mind.

Well, you're wrong. You should be thinking about Andrew Johnson, Glen Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Bradley Johnson, Roger Johnson et al.

Why? Because there are more players with the surname Johnson to have scored in the Premier League than any other surname.

There have been 21 of them to be exact, two more than the Williams clan.

Synonymous.

Get to the points

It's been a frustrating few (nine?) years for Man United fans, but don't worry, folks, if you just look at the big (massive) picture, it'll definitely all feel much better.

United still sit top of the overall Premier League table with 2,366 points, giving them a healthy 225-point cushion over second-placed Arsenal.

Manchester City may have won four of the past five league titles, a feat only United had achieved before them in the Premier League, but the real story is that they're way back on 1,629 Premier League points.

Yo-yo with the flow

To be fair, almost every single one of you knows what's coming here.

You guessed it, Norwich City's relegation from the last season makes them the yo-yoingest (yes, we've just made that up) club in Premier League history.

That was their sixth relegation to go with their five promotions to the top flight since 1992, taking them one clear of West Brom, who have the same number of ascensions but only five demotions to their name.

I love goals, goals, goals, goals

Of course, Shearer remains the Premier's League all-time leading scorer with 260, 52 more than Wayne Rooney in second.

But Harry Kane looks to be in with a chance of usurping both England greats – in fact, another solid season could take him beyond 200 as he begins the 2022-23 campaign on 183.

Kane also appears among the very best goalscoring combinations in the competition's history as he and Son Heung-min have linked up for 41 goals – that's five more than Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard as the next-best.

As for high-scoring matches, there have been three Premier League games that have finished with a nine-goal margin – two were achieved by Man United (9-0 v Southampton in February 2021, and v Ipswich Town in March 1995) and Leicester City managed it in October 2019, also crushing Saints 9-0.

Do call it a comeback

Your team's trailing 2-0, you're despondent and bereft of hope. But then, out of nowhere, you've got a goal back. Then the equaliser. And then, just when you'd convinced yourself "this draw feels like a win", a third goes in, and it's pandemonium.

There are few more satisfying situations in football than when you team produces such a turnaround – the despair you were feeling earlier only makes your full-time jubilation that bit more intense.

The biggest such turnarounds that led to wins all involved teams coming back from three goals down. Leeds United, Wimbledon and Wolves have all managed it in 4-3 victories, while Man United beat Spurs 5-3 from 3-0 down.

No team have done so since Wolves in October 2003, although Newcastle United certainly deserve a special mention – they are the only team to find themselves 4-0 down and avoid defeat. Their 4-4 draw with Arsenal in February 2011 remains a Premier League classic.

Stop the clock!

Here's another for the pub quiz enthusiasts: who scored the quickest goal in Premier League history?

Netting just 7.69 seconds into an April 2019 game between Southampton and Watford, Shane Long opened the scoring to break a 19-year record that had been set by Spurs defender Ledley King.

To put that into context, it'd take you longer to read that sentence. It was also quicker than Usain Bolt's world-record time in the 100 metres (9.58 seconds).

The latest goal ever is maybe a less notable record, but it nonetheless belongs to Bruno Fernandes, who in September 2020 scored a penalty after 99 minutes and 45 seconds to seal United a dramatic 3-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion – yes, that's the game when the Seagulls hit the woodwork a record five times.

As for the quickest hat-trick, that was scored by Sadio Mane for Southampton against Aston Villa in May 2015, with his first and third goals separated by just two minutes and 56 seconds.

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