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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted he was ‘surprised’ by Roberto Firmino’s decision to leave Anfield in the summer.
The Brazilian forward has communicated his decision to walk away from Liverpool when his contract expires in the summer in search of more regular minutes, bringing an end to his eight-year spell with the Reds.
Firmino is a popular member of the squad and, ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Bournemouth, Klopp admitted he will be sad to see the 31-year-old go.
“Yes, he told me. Surprised? Yes, a little bit, but it’s a normal thing to do. It could go two ways, and it was one,” the boss confessed.
“I respect that a lot. It’s completely normal in this kind of long relationship that we have, that Bobby has with the club and most of the players and with the fans, it’s pretty special. I loved the reception he got when he came on against [Manchester] United.
“He told me, and now I want to bring this wonderful story to a positive end.
“He’s completely here, he’s completely committed as everybody can imagine, and that’s all we need to know. There’s no time for a goodbye in this moment – we have enough time for that later in the season.
“Whenever he comes back, everybody knows that the song will still be here for a long time in everybody’s ears. I think he’s one of these players that, even if he came with an opposition team, people would be really happy to see.”
Klopp urged Liverpool to retain their focus heading into the final stretch of the season, admitting they face a real battle to finish in the top four.
“There’s a general feeling that we have to chase and we have to challenge everybody, but that’s only a little side story,” Klopp explained.
“The main thing is going to Bournemouth and playing a game there and not counting the points before you have them. The way Bournemouth play, they can be really uncomfortable for each team – everybody saw against Arsenal in the last game, how much they had to fight and stretch luck, if you want.
“We might fight for the Champions League spots – we will see how the results will be in the next few weeks – but the fight to stay in the league is as exciting. Bournemouth will fight like crazy.
“We want to go into the top four clear but it’s about fully focused on Bournemouth.”