DUBAI: Liverpool return to the Champions League at Anfield against Porto on Wednesday with low stakes after securing the knockout stage after four wins in their opening four matches.
It’s a competition the club have a special affinity for, and former left-back Jose Enrique believes Jurgen Klopp’s men can go all the way this season, despite some inconsistent results in recent weeks.
He said: âIn the league the only problem I see is that we haven’t had any luck with the injuries, again. It happened last season with center-backs, and this season, that is going with the midfielder.Let’s see how it goes, it will have an impact on our Premier League title fight because we may not have such a strong team.
“But the Champions League, I think we can do anything. Obviously we are done, and now we have stages away and at home, anything can happen. And I can bet that in the Champions League, Liverpool are really strong, especially when they play at Anfield, âadded the 35-year-old former Spain defender.
Speaking to Arab News in Dubai, where he met fans at the opening of the official Liverpool FC store at Mirdif City Center Mall – an event hosted by the club’s official business partner Seventy-8 – Enrique said : âThe level of support for Liverpool FC around the world is well known, and the passion for the Reds can certainly be felt here in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.
Enrique announced in 2018 that he was recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor.
âMy health is going perfectly well now; I don’t feel any side effects. After the operation and the treatment, I felt some side effects, but they are completely gone now.
âSince I retired I am now working with my brother as a football agent. It took me a while to get used to it, but now I’m so happy, and my brother is actually here in Dubai to shut down a player as well.
âSo I’m really happy to travel a lot, now that (coronavirus disease) the COVID-19 restrictions allow us to travel a bit. So I can’t complain, probably the best time of my life since I retired, âhe added.
Enrique recently returned to Anfield for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and he remains a fan five years after his departure.
âAgainst Brighton (2-2), the second half was not the best but against Atletico Madrid (2-0) we won and it was great. It was very, very nice to be back as it was my first time coming back to Anfield after the COVID-19 pandemic. “
He praised the Liverpool manager who he says transformed the club and won the Champions League, Premier League and FIFA Club World Cup in recent years.
“Klopp, what can I say that hasn’t already been said?” Obviously we have to give the players a lot of credit but for me he’s the main guy. If he wasn’t here we wouldn’t be in this position, definitely for me he’s the main man.
“I would have loved to play under him because I think he would have improved me a lot as a player. In my last season I was actually with him, but I wasn’t fit enough, j ‘had a lot, a lot of problems with my knee, so obviously I wasn’t available to play, the way he wants to play takes a lot of intensity, and my knee couldn’t take that.
“I would have really loved, in one of my best years, to play under him, because I really believe that he would have made of me perhaps one of the best in my position”, he said added.
Enrique also revealed his joy for Steven Gerrard after his former Liverpool captain became Aston Villa’s new coach.
âI’m very happy for him, I’ve already congratulated him. I think it’s the right decision for him. I don’t think you have to compare Rangers (from Glasgow) to Aston Villa because they play in completely different leagues. Rangers are huge in Scotland, but Aston Villa are a huge club in the Premier League, they’ve just struggled the last few years.
âWith Stevie, if they give him the right money, not a lot of money, and the freedom to make his own decisions, I think he can do very well there,â he said.
And Enrique also had words of encouragement for fans at his former club Newcastle United after the recent Saudi-backed takeover.
âI’m really happy for them. It’s a club that I will always love, they gave me the chance to play in the Premier League. The fans, they loved me when I was there, some of my best years. I wish them the best, I know how much they suffered with (former Newcastle United owner) Mike Ashley. Obviously I left because Liverpool came for me, but Mike Ashley was one of the reasons to leave the club, and not just me, but a lot of the players.
âAnd now the new owners are ready to spend, and you can see when they signed on how the fans celebrated outside the stadium. I’m very happy for them because I think they are a club that should at least be in the top six in the Premier League, âhe said.