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Midfielder boost, £20m wantaway defender - four things spotted in Liverpool training

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - JULY 07: (THE SUN OUT. THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Arne Slot Head Coach of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on July 07, 2024 in Kirkby, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)


Liverpool's pre-season training plans stepped up at the AXA Training Centre on Sunday afternoon with a number of first-team stars involved.

New head coach Arne Slot was able to meet and greet a handful of his new players at the £50m Kirkby base on Friday morning before they were put through their paces with the demanding Six-Minute Race Test (6MRT).

The endurance exam, as the name indicates, lasts for six minutes around a 400m race track with the exercise designed for those undertaking it to go as fast as possible to cover somewhere between 1.5 and 2km.

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Jarell Quansah, Conor Bradley and Sepp van den Berg all took part in the gruelling run which was overseen by fitness coach Dr Conall Murtagh and new head of performance Ruben Peeters alongside Slot. Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas joined later in the day for their own workout.

But Sunday brought with it the introduction of the footballs, the goals and the cones after some light gym work earlier in the day and Slot was able to get a glimpse of what is within his ranks, albeit with over 10 players away on international duty at present at both the Copa America and European Championship.

Bajcetic takes step forward

Stefan Bajcetic will be looking to put an injury hit campaign behind him this coming campaign.

Having started to really establish himself in the senior squad in the second half of the 22/23 term, the Spanish teenager saw his season ended in a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth in March of last year.

Last term, he made just three appearances, totalling barely 90 minutes with just one of those coming in the Premier League, in a late cameo against Tottenham Hotspur in early May.

Having cut short his summer holidays to get to work at the club's training base ahead of pre-season, Bajcetic was able to hit the ground running as best he could on Sunday as he bids to catch Slot's eye while so many of his other midfielders are away on international duty.

Bajcetic was wanted to be part of the Spain squad for the upcoming Olympic Games but the chance to make up for lost time with a strong pre-season represents a great opportunity for the midfielder.

Jones and Elliott feature

Sadly, England duty proved to be just out of reach for Jones and Harvey Elliott, 12 months after they won the European Under-21 Championship with the Young Lions, and both players are keen to catch the eye of the new man at the helm this summer.

With Liverpool's midfield department a crowded one, competition for places will, as ever, be fierce and a full pre-season schedule for both players will be vital as they aim to build on their already lengthy yet deceptively fledgling careers on Merseyside.

It could be a big season for both players and a good summer will be key to ensuring that. Expect both to feature prominently in the upcoming friendlies in the United States, injury-permitting.

Carvalho and Van den Berg involved

Both Fabio Carvalho and Van den Berg were involved, having returned from their respective loan spells with Hull City and Mainz.

Liverpool are willing to listen to offers for centre-back Van den Berg, although the Dutch defender hit out at the £20m valuation placed on his head by his club last month, saying: "You (Liverpool) didn't exude confidence in me all this time, but you do want to hinder my future.

"I want to keep playing every week and develop myself further. In Germany, I enjoy Dortmund away with 70,000 people, Bayern Munich away against Harry Kane, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Leverkusen, against clubs like that I am challenged every week."

It's unclear what the plan for Carvalho is, however. The former Fulham youngster spent last season with RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga and then Hull in the Championship and while game-time became increasingly marginalised under Klopp in the 22/23 term, the Portugal youngster may feel he can catch the eye of a new regime this summer. A potential big few weeks await Carvalho.

Quansah set assume responsibility

With Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate all still involved at the European Championship in Germany, the stage is set for young defender Jarell Quansah to assume more responsibility.

Quansah stepped up significantly last term and made himself a first-team fixture across the course of the campaign. So much so, in fact, that he was first choice alongside Van Dijk by the time the season was ending in May.

With no other senior centre-half due back until next month now, Quansah will be ready to step into the void and really put down a marker for the campaign. Liverpool had no intention of including Quansah in any discussions over Anthony Gordon last month and now view him as a long-term staple at the back for both club and country.