Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has received five boosts ahead of the resumption of the domestic season as his returning stars can flip a psychological narrative.

In the space of one weekend, five of the six Liverpool players remaining at the World Cup have been sent packing.

Alisson, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson were all eliminated at the quarter-final stage, leaving Ibrahima Konaté as the Reds’ only representative in the last four.

This, on paper, is good news for Liverpool. While they won’t feature in the Reds’ friendlies for Dubai, they may be back in contention for the Carabao Cup tie against Manchester City and should be back in the starting line-up when the Premier League resumes away at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

In terms of getting players back and getting them back unscathed, the quarter-finals couldn’t have possibly worked out better. But context is important. All five players exited the tournament in especially painful circumstances, and that could have ramifications for Liverpool.

Alisson and Fabinho were ready to celebrate reaching the semifinals after Neymar’s extra-time goal had seemingly put them through against Croatia. But the tournament favourites were stunned by a 117th-minute leveller, and then went on to lose on penalties.

The Netherlands, captained by Van Dijk, remarkably fought back from 2-0 down to force extra time against Argentina, with Wout Weghorst giving them hope in the 83rd minute and then equalising in the 101st with virtually the last kick of the game.

They may have felt destined to progress at that point, but Van Dijk missed his side’s first penalty and they would ultimately lose the shoot-out 4-3.

Henderson and Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, watched Harry Kane miss a chance to equalise from the spot late on against France. England had been the better side and will be left wondering what might have been had the game gone to extra time.

Broadly speaking, disappointment can manifest itself in one of two ways. It can linger long-term and affect a player’s performances, as we perhaps saw with Mohamed Salah during last season’s run-in after his AFCON final heartbreak.

the other hand, though, Liverpool’s players may be able to channel it into added motivation.

Henderson and Alisson bore no culpability for their side’s failure, even if the latter was unable to heroically save Brazil in the shoot-out.

But Van Dijk may well feel partly to blame after Emiliano Martinez saved his penalty. He had already faced criticism after a 1-1 draw with Ecuador earlier in the tournament, with Dutch legend Marco van Basten arguing that he ‘doesn’t take the lead’ and ‘takes care of nothing in the team’ (via talkSPORT).

Van Dijk responded that ‘it’s easy to talk from the studio’ and insisted that he ‘leads the team in the best way possible’

Then there’s Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho, who only figured for their countries in the final group-stage matches when progression was already assured. The hope is that they take this as a slight on their ability and set out, constructively, to prove their international managers wrong.

We’ve already seen Alexander-Arnold energised by a snub from Gareth Southgate, with the right-back returning to form in the final part of the 2020/21 season after he was left out of the Three Lions’ squad for the March internationals.

Jürgen Klopp has repeatedly spoken of his desire for his team to be ‘angry’, and it seems these three players, in particular, may grant his wish when the season gets back underway.


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