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Liverpool v Wolves preview: The end of an era?

Wolves’ trip to Anfield may be supporters’ last chance to give a final farewell to several players.

Fernando Marcal (Getty)
Fernando Marcal (Getty)

Although much of the focus will be on Liverpool and their hopes of securing a second Premier League title, for Wolves the future is very much at the forefront of their minds.

Head coach Bruno Lage has spoken of the need for a rebuild in the summer and the work the club will need to do to replace players that leave, while still making quality additions.

Sunday’s clash with Liverpool will give fans the opportunity to show their appreciation for a number of players who may leave the club in the coming weeks.

One player that now looks certain to depart is Fernando Marcal, after Lage confirmed the club would not be offering him a new deal.

Lage said: “We have talked a little bit with him. Marcal did a fantastic season with us. He’s a magnificent man and I have loved working with him. He came in a bad moment when Jonny got injured, and even Marcal had problems in his first season here. He had a fantastic season and every time he played he did very well.

“But there’s a moment when the club and the player don’t find an agreement, and we need to find a different solution.”

When asked if he expects Marcal to Leave, Lage added: “Yes. For him, the decision is that the club doesn’t want to renew and also he has good chances to go back to Brazil. They haven’t found an agreement and he has that opportunity.

“He wants to continue to play in Europe. He has good chances to play in Europe and good chances to play in Brazil, now it’s about him deciding his future. I just have to say good words about him because every time he played for us he played at the top level.”

Lage previously said that Joao Moutinho wants to stay but they are working on a deal for the out-of-contract midfielder – and he has now added that he expects the 35-year-old to agree terms.

He said: “He is still talking with the club and I want him to stay. When the club wants, when the manager wants, when the player wants, they need to find an agreement with all the parts.”

John Ruddy’s future is up in the air after he hinted he may leave when his deal expires, but Lage has reiterated his desire to keep him.

He added: “I want him to stay. He’s a big professional. I haven’t given him anything because he deserved to play that game against Norwich. I gave him a chance to play because he deserves to play more. Every time he plays, he plays well. He has trained hard and has put pressure on Jose. Jose did a fantastic job because of John. I am happy with him.”

Romain Saiss, who is injured for the trip to Anfield, seemed certain to depart after the player and Lage both publicly confirmed it, but the head coach has now offered a glimmer of hope.

“In this moment we don’t know if Saiss continues with us or not. He is still talking with the club,” he said.

Opposition view

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not allowing himself to even contemplate the dream scenario of a dramatic end to the title race where former captain Steven Gerrard does his old club a favour at Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola’s side have a one-point lead heading into the final match of the season so Liverpool, at home to Wolves, need to better their result if they are to snatch the championship away from their rivals. The fact Gerrard, for whom the Premier League was the only winner’s medal missing from his career at Anfield, will be in the opposition dugout at the Etihad provides a more fantastical addition to a thrilling climax.

While Klopp joked that he would have liked to have seen Gerrard on the pitch he insists he has not given much thought to how Sunday afternoon will play out.

“I can understand these kind of situations only by thinking myself in that role,” he said.

“If I would play a game and could help (Borussia) Dortmund or Mainz that would be, for me, an extra motivation – but I don’t play.

“And Stevie doesn’t play. That is a shame, much more of a shame that Stevie is not playing than I am not playing.

“We are all human beings. Stevie will take it 100 per cent serious, I am sure, without me calling him or whatever, I don’t have to – the rest of the club probably already did it but I didn’t.

“A really good example of how motivated football teams are to fulfil their own targets is last night’s game for Crystal Palace.

“It was such an important game, one of the most important games in Everton’s history, and then Palace show up there and play incredible football and in the end they they lost, but the effort they put in, the passion they showed - the whole game from Palace was really good.

“We play to win and Aston Villa play to win. It (Etihad) is a difficult place to go, if you go there and don’t play 100 per cent you get five or six (scored against you) and if you are fully there you have a chance to get a result.

“But this is the game I am not concerned about, not thinking about, at all. Of all the things we speak about it is completely disrespectful to Wolves as they will do exactly the same. They don’t want to come here and be part of our celebrations. They come here and want to get three points, definitely.

“We have to be ready for this game not the other one.”

Irrespective of the outcome this weekend, whether or not Liverpool claim a record-equalling 20th league title and complete a domestic treble before next weekend’s Champions League final, Klopp said the season was one to be proud of.

They have already won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup and, having closed a 14-point gap to City from January his team remain on course to register 90-plus points for the third time in four seasons - a tally which would usually guarantee top spot were it not for the continued excellence of Guardiola’s side.

A victory parade is booked for Sunday May 29, the day after the Champions League final, and Klopp said it was only right their achievements were enjoyed.

“We have so many reasons to celebrate. We don’t know how many reasons but we have already enough reasons. It is enough to celebrate life,” he added.

“There is the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and whatever will come. That we didn’t have the parade two years ago when we became champions is not the reason but another reason.”

Subliminally echoing a line from the song fans sing about it Klopp continued: “I am really happy what I promised that time and said ‘When it is possible we will have a parade’.

“It is all about us, what we want to celebrate. It is not about what other people think, I couldn’t care less.

“I know already what people will say about it - ‘Really?’ and all these kind of things - but it is just for us, just for Liverpool FC, for the people.

“That we are together in this moment in time is already enough to organise a parade without any trophies but we have two already.”

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