Ozan Kabak has fired a warning to his Liverpool teammates that every match is effectively a cup final from here on in as they aim to secure a top four spot in the Premier League.
The Reds’ hopes of ending a disappointing season on a high were dashed midweek when they were outplayed by Real Madrid to leave their Champions League campaign hanging by a thread.
Failure to overturn their 3-1 first leg defeat will mean their only remaining target will be to ensure they are in the competition again next season.
Liverpool currently have eight games left to play domestically and Kabak feels they need to go on a winning run starting against Aston Villa on Saturday if they are to stand any chance.
“In the Premier League, at this stage we need to win every game,” he told Liverpoolfc.com . “Obviously the Madrid game is huge for us in the Champions League, but we will concentrate on the Aston Villa game and we will be there for the win.
“We have eight games remaining in the Premier League and obviously in the Champions League we will decide how many games we’re going to play.
“We don’t have any points to lose and we just need to win every game. This huge club needs to be in the Champions League next year, [like] every year.
“The Real Madrid game is now in the past, we just focus on this game in the Premier League. Obviously we need to win every game and we need to go into the Champions League next year.
“We are desperate to win in the Premier League, so we are fully focused on Saturday.”
The period to come is an equally important one for Kabak on a personal level as he looks to impress in a bid to earn a permanent switch to Anfield.
Liverpool agreed a fee of £18million with Schalke as part of an option-to-buy clause in Kabak’s loan agreement back in January, but a decision is yet to be made on whether they will be keeping the Turkish international.
Reports suggesting Liverpool are now negotiating with RB Leipzig over the sale of Ibrahima Konate will have done little to ease any pressure on Kabak, nor has the criticism levied at him and centre-back partner Nat Phillips following their performance against Madrid’s attack.
TalkSport pundit Jason Cundy laid into the duo after the match, and told Liverpool to forget about adding a seventh European crown to their trophy cabinet with their current centre-back pairing.
“We kept saying you had to get one of Fabinho or Henderson in the middle of the park, but you can see why he [Klopp] wanted one of them in defence.
“Sorry to say, but Phillips and Kabak got absolutely rinsed. Even if they [Liverpool] get through, I can’t see how they can win the competition with those two at the back.
“Injuries have killed Liverpool, it’s an absolute fact, they’ve been decimated at the back.
“Kabak – I’ve seen games when he’s done OK. But when there’s a step up in class, they got completely outclassed at the back.”
Liverpool have been handed a small boost ahead of the clash with Villa however, after news that their skipper Jack Grealish will miss the fixture due to a recurring injury problem.
Grealish had been back in contention for the meeting with Fulham last weekend but was forced to pull out after feeling some discomfort in his shin and will now be sidelined until May.