Liverpool attacker may be fighting for his future after Jurgen Klopp transfer admission

Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Fabio Carvalho is likely to leave Liverpool on loan this summer

When Liverpool last travelled to Southampton, 12 months ago, the 2-1 victory at St. Mary’s, coming days after the FA Cup final victory over Chelsea, marked the first time that Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott started a Premier League match together in midfield.

Since then, the pair have started just one more top-flight match together in the Reds’ engine room, yet both have made great strides during what has admittedly been a disappointing season for the club.

Up until the 0-0 draw away at Chelsea last month, Elliott had been involved in every Liverpool match this season. Even now, after a further five unused outings, only Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Alisson, and Trent Alexander-Arnold can better his total of 45 appearances this campaign.

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Meanwhile, Jones has been a standout performer for the Reds, alongside Alexander-Arnold, since Jurgen Klopp introduced an inverted full-back system last month. In a year wrecked by injury for the majority, the 22-year-old came into the starting XI in the absence of Elliott against Chelsea and hasn’t looked back since.

With Liverpool putting together a 10-game unbeaten run as they unsuccessfully made a late surge for the Champions League places, Jones started all 10 and has returned three goals and an assist from this more offensive role.

As the Reds travel back to St. Mary’s, it would be no surprise if the pair were both selected in the engine-room together again after Klopp hinted at some changes. With a midfield revamp then planned for the summer, it is up to the pair, who are likely to represent England Under-21s at this summer’s European Championships, to push on once again when back at the AXA Training Centre.

Klopp would point to the presence of both players as one of the reasons behind his decision to sign a new contract last year, along with the arrival of one Liverpool summer signing.

“What I am really happy about is that we are in the transformation – not a transformation like ‘bam’ (clicks fingers) – it’s more slight,” Klopp said last May.

“We have another young exciting player coming in with Fab (Carvalho), we have Harvey and Curtis. After the last game I had both together and said to them ‘this is only the start’. And they were like ‘yes, with us on the pitch’. It’s really nice.

“You see them in training and they are flying because of the opportunities. Yes it’s not nice that during the season Harvey is not in the squad, it’s a crime, but I just couldn’t change it this year. So to have these boys around for this transition is important.”

Admittedly a season of transition perhaps suggests that Liverpool’s ongoing transformation won’t be as slight as Klopp would have liked. But while Jones and Elliott continue to flourish because of their opportunities, it has been a different story for Fabio Carvalho.

Out of contract last summer, the Reds agreed a compensation package of an initial £5.5m with Fulham for the former Portugal Under-21s international, who made the move to Anfield after helping the Cottagers win the Championship and promotion to the Premier League. He would have joined the previous January and been loaned back to the London outfit had a deadline day deal been completed in time.

Returning 10 goals from 36 appearances for Fulham last season, Klopp was excited by his new arrival as Liverpool continued to revamp their ageing attack.

“Fabio, wow, what a season he played with Fulham. Getting promoted (with a) football-playing (style),” Klopp told the club last year when sharing his excitement at the transfer. “Properly football-playing, it’s not easy so Marco Silva obviously did an incredible job there.

“A big part of that was absolutely Fabio. When we watched him it was a pure joy to watch him, absolutely. He can play so many different positions for us, the way we play.

“At the minute he’s not really set on one position – it’s the wing, it’s the eight, it’s the 10, it’s the false nine if he grows a few more muscles.

“It’s a short-term and a long-term project; he can start tomorrow and he needs to adapt, you can see that a little bit, but when he has the ball that’s proper quality. I’m over the moon that he’s here. Fantastic prospect.”