Chelsea legend Joe Cole thinks young Liverpool duo Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones have “stepped up” this season following the departures of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and James Milner in the summer.
The Reds were dominant on Thursday night against Austrian side LASK with two goals from Cody Gakpo and one each from Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah securing top spot in their Europa League group.
Toulouse’s draw against Union Saint-Gilloise means Liverpool cannot be caught at the top and Jurgen Klopp’s side will now avoid having to compete in a play-off when the competition returns in February.
Not having to compete in the competition until March will come as a relief for Klopp as he looks to get the most out of his squad after losing Fabinho, Henderson and Milner in the summer.
As well as the new signings, Cole thinks Elliott and Jones have upped their performances this season and he was impressed by what he saw on Thursday night.
Cole said on TNT Sports: “What he seems to do Jurgen Klopp is buy players when they are on the way up. He’s not looking at players who are ready and you know what they are going to give.
“Darwin Nunez came in, that could have been seen as a bit of a gamble. He seems to buy players with the right attitude.
“Mohamed Salah is clearly the main man, the icon, the front man in everything they do on and off the pitch.
“But the rest of the team just works so hard. Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones, they are improving.
“I don’t think people see the influence they are having on this team. People in and around them do, but not from the outside.
“They lost big names in Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and James Milner. The young lads in the squad are now stepping up.”
And Klopp revealed his delight after the match to get top spot sealed ahead of the final gameweek with Liverpool facing Union Saint-Gilloise on December 14.
“Two top results for us tonight in the group,” Klopp said.
“It was clear, with the defeat at Toulouse (last time out) we made it a bit more tricky but because of our result and their result we are now top of the table and that will not change.
“That’s good, very important in the busy schedule we have from now on.
“A lot of positives in the game, a lot of good football. The thing I didn’t like too much, and told the boys at half-time, (was) this game should have been put to bed already at half-time.
“You cannot play better, you cannot set it up better, (but) you can finish it better obviously – but we didn’t.
“Caoimhin (Kelleher) worked for his clean sheet, which he desperately wanted, and that’s good. We scored a fourth goal in the last minute or whatever, so result top, performance really good (and) nobody got injured. All good.”