Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has backed Luis Diaz to replicate Sadio Mane’s goalscoring numbers at Anfield.
Mane departed Liverpool this summer with a record of 120 goals in 269 games and one Premier League Golden Boot award to his name, having turned into a prolific machine during his six years under Klopp.
Diaz is yet to match that sort of return, with four goals in 13 Premier League outings the only minor blot on an otherwise impressive six-month spell with the Reds.
When asked whether Diaz could learn Mane’s scoring touch, Klopp insisted that Liverpool’s style of football almost forces forwards to become prolific.
“It is the way we play,” Klopp said. “It’s the way we bring the boys into the situation. Of course it is about whether it is in you or not, but it’s the way we play, how we position the players, how we protect the players, where we win the balls back and how the boys can use their speed in these moments. They will be in a lot of goalscoring situations and that then makes you the player we remember.
“Sadio scored three against us [over two games] when he played for Southampton but it is not that he scored every week. He didn’t even start the game when he scored two against us. The consistency came with confidence, with the team-mates and with the structure of our game. That is what we are working on.
“The way we play should help strikers, the way we play should help the last line of defenders because everyone is involved. That is also a little bit why midfielders are seen as not scoring enough, because they are involved in keeping everything together. The potential is there.”
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Klopp went on to stress that he has no concerns about Diaz’s limited return in front of goal, backing the Colombian to start racking up the numbers once he gets back to full match fitness.
“We work on it [finishing] but not with Luis specifically,” Klopp said. “We don’t take him out because the other two scored and he didn’t, so we showed him how.
“That’s not necessary. It’s not a problem. You can’t force it. We spoke last week about people asking, ‘How can you play without Sadio?’ when in November and December everybody was thinking about when he would score the next goal.
“You see the situations he [Diaz] had — big chances and he was just unlucky. He is in really good shape and that is more important. It’s not that I tell him after a game, ‘You should have scored here or there.’ The boys know that in the moment. It happens. It’s a normal process.
“Ten to 15 goals? Oh definitely, that is his quality. We need to see, but that is his potential. He just needs one goal and then we will go from there.”