Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Diogo Jota after he helped Liverpool thrash Atalanta in the Champions League – but denied suggestions that the Portuguese star’s form could be bad news for Reds No 9 Roberto Firmino.
Jota was sensational as Klopp’s side ran riot in Bergamo on Tuesday evening, scoring a hat-trick as Liverpool took complete control of Group D.
The Reds can secure their passage to the knockout stage with a win over the Serie A side when the teams meet at Anfield later this month.
It was a good night for Klopp, who described his team’s performance as “incredible”.
He had chosen to leave Firmino, usually a staple in big European away matches, on the bench against Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, choosing instead to field Jota who has now scored in his last four matches and has seven in his first 10 games since arriving from Wolves in September.
Afterwards, though, Klopp bristled when asked if Jota’s brilliance had given him a selection headache going into Sunday’s crunch Premier League clash away at Manchester City.
“Good performances never give me a headache!” he told his post-match press conference. “Tonight the decision was clear, it made sense first of all to use the good shape Diogo was in, and secondly because of the way Atalanta plays and defends, we should use the skillset of Diogo to help us.
“The world is sometimes a bad place, that in the moment when somebody is shining we immediately speak about another player who played what feels like 500 games in a row. Without Bobby Firmino, we would not be in the Champions League even.
"He will be in the team, and for a lot of people in the world if you ask them ‘what makes Liverpool special?’ they would say ‘the way Bobby Firmino is playing’.
“For us it is important that we have more than 11. Tonight, Diogo played a super, super game but that says nothing about Bobby, and has nothing to do with me causing headaches. I am more than happy that the boys played like they played tonight.”
Klopp had suggested, pre-game, that Atalanta represented the biggest test his team had faced in Europe this season, but the Italians were no match for the speed and sharpness of Jota, or of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, who both joined him on the scoresheet.
“It is about the players,” Klopp said. “I don't want to talk about tactics too much, because the job he [Gasperini] is doing here is incredible, but I don't think any system could have defended Sadio, Mo and Diogo tonight.”
He added: “Everything I said last night before the game is still 100 per cent true. I am in the business long enough to see when another team is playing good football and can cause each team in the world problems. That didn’t change because of the game and the result tonight.
“We are good as well! We know that but we have to fulfil our potential, and that’s what the boys did tonight. We defended Atalanta on an incredibly high level, and played top football ourselves and scored the goals.
"We scored five goals, could have scored two or three more, but Alisson had to make three world-class saves as well, so you see how big the threat is if you let them do what they are good at.
“The overall performance of my team was very good tonight, and that’s why we won the game. The result is not that important, we only wanted to win.”