Free Friday & Liverpool FC News, Media and Transfer Roundup – 27th Jan 2023
The Value of a Tortoise Mind, The First FA Cup & Time for Klopp to Rebuild
Free Friday will cover our work across The Tomkins Times’ Substack network, with it running via an opt-in or opt-out newsletter on The Main Hub (where almost all of the community commenting takes place), but covering TTT’s four sub-Substacks, or spokes.
Also make sure you check out Daniel Zambartas’ media round-up, which will be added to best of TTT from the previous week.
Best Comment of the Week
Tony McKenna reacts after the draw with Chelsea:
Bit of a latecomer, again and I have read through the excellent comments. Rather than repeat similar views, I would just like to offer some thoughts that are prevalent in my mind. Especially because Klopp's post match comments have provoked such thinking.
Klopp spoke about progress in a "small steps" aspect, and singled out our defending with "passion" against Chelsea. Which, as he put it, had been absent "2 weeks ago." I do agree with that. Defensively, the stats certainly show that we were far more successful in the context of "tackles;" and I felt that there was more commitment and zest in that regard. This is where I take heart.
However, I lament the fact that we, once again, were conceding more free kicks than our opponent. As we try and resolve our defensive side of the game, I dread any set pieces because of the fragility that exists. (Our GD has really suffered in the past few weeks). I felt that any set piece may have taken the draw away from us. And, believe me, once the second half was under way I had already envisaged a point as a good outcome. This was not a negative concession but maybe an essential reality.
These two sides were in such similar positions it looked like we cancelled one another out. I am not just referring to the league table, but also the respective falls from form as each side is attempting to integrate new players. If Liverpool have struggled on their travels this season, Chelsea have mirrored that struggle, not having won Away for 6 PL games. (Apparently, their worse performance for 7 years, according to the Observer). Injuries have also been a mutual issue.
Even looking at our bench yesterday, some of those players were not fully fit, hence the fact that they did not start. I was told that Trent had a groin injury, for example. It could be just me, but it seemed that he was not putting his foot behind the ball as forcefully as usual, when he did come on. He appeared to be passing more gingerly than he is capable of.
Anyhow, both sets of players could only be as confident as the above circumstances allow and they were all obviously nervous about getting nothing at all, from this game. Consequently, it was hardly a great match.
Chelsea have new ownership too. Liverpool potentially have that looming, but already we know certain backroom staff are departing/departed. So there are huge, new, communication implications for each organisation. (It is all too often, very much under appreciated just how important communication is, when it comes to organisational efficiency and success. Such backdrops are not the greatest preparations for any game). Time is now the essence. In the sense that it will be some time, before either team resumes the previous standard.
From our own perspective, we are in a very similar situation as when Klopp first arrived. (Have a look at the team then, a significant rebuild was duly set in motion. But it took time. These things always do). Klopp, at that juncture, was publicly candid about our defence being "rubbish." We now know that the fix ensued. But it was not one that merely stabilised us, but rather raised us to elite levels bagging the most important trophies in the process. Not to omit that that revamp also addressed a midfield and forward line.
(It took considerably less time, and less Managers obviously, than a post 2013, Manchester United. Almost 10 years on, the media is wetting their under crackers, celebrating their perch re-posit. Forgive me, I missed the fact that they've won the PL and CL; plus the World Club Championship).
This is the most important thing for me now. Klopp has done it before. He has that ability to revamp, rebuild and progress. We know this. But we do have to incur the slow burn kind of progress, for which much patience must endure. There have never been any "press button" solutions that offer immediacy at the whim of a flick.
The only thing I would add, is that it is imperative for communications within the club to reinstate positively. Klopp, and his staff, have achieved what they did, whilst working in partnership with FSG and the personnel the latter hired. That included that analytics and transfer professionals. Oh, how I crave that stability of a working together approach. This has been disrupted of late; and if only key figures at the club could reflect on what could be launched from a platform, when superior harmony did exist.
On the whole, Klopp felt that it was a good point earned. I am inclined to agree. But in the knowledge that the progress we crave is under way. Albeit, it takes the value of the tortoise mind to fully appreciate this; as opposed to the hare. In the meantime, I do hope the incidence of injuries can politely do one, and fuck off.
TTT Main Hub
As mentioned above, one of the biggest debates of the week surrounds the performance - and result - against Chelsea at Anfield last Saturday.
Here's a good analysis in The Times after the Chelsea game by James Gheerbrant - but also includes a look at Gakpo's pressing role using the data me and Gags collect for AI.
Gakpo had 54 presses - over 25% of the team's figures - and the 10th highest individual total since Klopp took over. Now, once again, it was a very specific tactic because there were only two possession wins from all that (one led a shot he fired over the bar from outside the box).
However, as you can see from the image in The Times' article, it was still an important job because we took the play away from the middle of the pitch and funnelled them wider where we had more bodies. We created a 'pressing wall' between the edge of Chelsea's and the halfway line. We didn't commit lots of bodies for a high press, but we did have a high defensive line. Front to back we were more compact; and though we conceded four big chances, these were mainly from set pieces or a the incredible skill from Mudryk. We had a tiny team in terms of height, so we will struggle from set pieces.
However, it is something to consider when we use Gakpo centrally now because this was a key part of our defensive plan. And might mean Nunez stays wide left, and the Dutch lad keeps playing centrally.
Though hopefully Klopp sees how damaging it's been to our attacking output as this was the first time we've gone consecutive games without creating a big chance since Klopp's first season (which also resulted in a 1-0 win vs Watford (Emre Can's overhead kick) and 0-0 draw with Southampton.
Next up was a deep dive on the level of opponents Liverpool face in the domestic cups by Daniel Zambartas:
Liverpool have highest percentage of Premier League draws;
More than double what a team like West Ham have had, despite the Hammers having played one more game;
Chelsea have the highest percentage of top six opposition, closely followed by Liverpool and Arsenal;
But have made it to six domestic cup finals whereas Liverpool have reached two, so you would expect difference to be higher than just 3%;
Incredibly City have a lower top six opposition percentage by 10% when they have made it to five finals plus three FA Cup semi-finals (where they lost
Chris’ piece this week was a look back at a time when the Reds winning the FA Cup was held in huge regard, and in 1964/65 Liverpool broke the duck in the competition.
The FA Cup, and especially the Final, were special in those days, not least because it was the only domestic game to be shown live, and on both BBC and ITV simultaneously. Coverage of what was then a 3pm Saturday kick off began at around 10am, with interviews of players, managers and travelling fans, and footage of the players boarding their coaches at their hotels, their coaches making their way towards Wembley and being stuck in crowds down Wembley Way ... it was the biggest football occasion of the year, by a light year.
Of course there was a particular reason for Liverpool to be obsessed with the FA Cup back then. Despite having just been crowned champions for the sixth time the previous season (see A Season to Remember 1963-4), the club had still never won the elusive damned thing. They’d only reached the final twice in 64 attempts, losing to Burnley in 1914 and Arsenal in 1950. That’s why Bill Shankly regarded May 1st 1965 as the most important date so far in the club’s 73 year history. And why he rested seven first-teamers for the final league game of the season, at Wolves, for which he received an FA reprimand.
The Zen Den
Paul took a detailed look at potential reasons for the Reds’ struggles this season as well as the potential for a rebuild.
In 2022, the mighty blow of losing the league on the last day was compounded by the mighty blow of losing the Champions League final only due to one of the best goalkeeping displays seen in that final since Jerzy Dudek in 2005. The twin domestic cups were great, but the two big achievements to complete the greatest quadruple in football history were missed by the margin of a single goal each time.
As such, I think that Jürgen Klopp has shown in the past couple of games that he's ready to rebuild this team, which has been underperforming in part due to the physical and psychological hangover from last season (which in turn led to an injury crisis) and much of it is underway. This difficult phase is part of the path out of the woods.
1) Stefan Bajčetić. Obviously. But to make his first league start in a crucial game against Big Six opposition shows how far he's come since making his debut earlier in the season as a skinny 17-year-old. Now he's a skinny 18-year-old, with 10 games under his belt, including minutes against Manchester City, Chelsea, Ajax (twice) and Napoli.
Unusually for a kid of that age, he has only one game (his only full 90) against a lower league club: Derby. He has skipped the season or two getting League Cup minutes and gone straight into the senior squad, and then the senior side. That marked him out as well ahead of the game, as a lot of the kids who go through a year or two in League Cup games are never going to make the grade, just as a loan to anywhere below the Championship is often a predicator that the player won't cut the mustard with the Reds. (I think Conor Bradley could be an outlier on that.)
Rather than focus on transfer targets with the window slamming shut soon, Mizgan switched his attention to the Reds’ underlying numbers this season at the halfway stage.
While the goal concession rate is high this season, the shot concession crossed the one mark last season itself. So, as I mentioned above, despite a historic campaign last time around (and it was truly historic), signs were there that things would take a downturn if necessary changes would not be made in the summer. Liverpool did not do enough in the summer and are now facing the consequences.
The Expected Goal Difference from High Speed Attacks (xG created - xG conceded) is +0.1 this year. It is one of the lowest when compared to the last four seasons. The previous low being -0.98 in 2020/21, for obvious reasons. 2018/19 and 2019/20 had +4.7 and +6.27 respectively (for reference purposes).
One of our key weapons - speed, is getting neutralised this season as well.
Liverpool News, Media & Transfer Round-Up:
James Pearce on Salah’s struggles in the Athletic
“However, midway through this season the reigning PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year boasts just seven Premier League goals — compared to 15 at the halfway point a year ago.
“While Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has scored 25 league goals and already turned the race for the Golden Boot into a procession, Salah finds himself joint ninth, having been outscored by Martin Odegaard, Miguel Almiron, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ivan Toney among others.
“Salah’s 23 top-flight goals in 2021-22 came at a rate of one every 120 minutes. This season, he’s averaging a league goal every 241 minutes and has fired blanks in five of Liverpool’s last six matches. In the past three league matches against Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford he has had a combined total of three shots — and not one was on target.
“Salah has certainly been hampered by Liverpool’s collective malaise that has left them 10 points adrift of the Champions League spots.
“Salah hasn’t been receiving the ball as often or in dangerous enough areas. He’s averaging just 39 touches per 90 minutes and 7.3 touches in the attacking box per 90 this season — both the lowest figures of his Liverpool career. That’s down from 50 and 9.6 in 2021-22.
“Another factor to consider is Salah has previously been able to bank on a steady stream of penalties to boost his belief and numbers. Five of his 23 top-flight goals (22 per cent) came from the spot last season and six of his 22 (27 per cent) in 2020-21. However, Liverpool haven’t been awarded a penalty in their last 27 Premier League games going back to Watford at home last April — no other top-flight club has gone so long without a spot kick.”
Robertson on LFC podcast
“We all have different ways of leading,” Robertson says. “Hendo can carry the team, he can look after everyone pretty much, that’s always been the way. Millie can demand standards, he can give you a rocket if you need a rocket, in a nice way. Virgil is always commanding at the back and can talk.
“I can help the lads out. I try to help the younger players but also demand standards as well.
“Trent is obviously still young, but he is also a leader in every way. Every young lad that comes up to train with us looks at Trent and thinks, ‘I want to follow his career path.
“The manager has been unbelievable,” he explains. “He has made us all better players, him and his staff.
“Sometimes, when I watch older games – ones from four or five years ago – and look at how I played and how I’m playing now, that’s when you see how much you’ve progressed. That’s down to the coaching, the training we’ve had, and being given the opportunities in the big games. He [Klopp] has been special for this club and he has been special for all of us as well.”
Robertson on his childhood: “We never had lots and lots of money, but we had a roof over our heads, we had food on our table and sometimes you have to realise how lucky you are,” he said.
“People take that for granted. My mum and dad gave me and my brother a fantastic life. They always gave to charities, and my aunties and uncles were involved, too. All of us have been brought up with that: you can always help others.”
Thiago interview with the Independent
““It is not just about physical stuff, it is something psychological because we were so close to winning everything and we just touched it but sadly it went away.
“I think the bad moments we have to be together as a team,” he added. “Last season we had one of the greatest seasons I’ve ever had in my life. This season is not one of the best but it doesn’t matter. It is a challenge and I think we have great quality and great guys to sort it out and I am sure we will do that.
“We are in the reality to go game-by-game and get points to help us to be as high as possible. Our aim is the next game. Not to be in the top four or the Europa League, just the next game.”
Bajcetic interview with the Independent
“I’m a little bit surprised to be fair. Last season I was playing Under-18s,” Bajcetic said. “But I’ve tried to improve and tried to impress here, and if I get an opportunity, I try to take it.
“It [starting against Chelsea] gives me massive confidence. I’ve been training hard and trying to improve throughout the whole season. I’m just trying to get the opportunities and when I get them, to play well.”
Neil Jones on the decline of Fabinho and Henderson
“Six months ago, the idea of either player sitting on the bench for a must-win game against a ‘big six’ rival would have seemed bizarre, but things are changing at Anfield – and not for the better.
“And so on Saturday, we had the sight of two players with close to 700 Reds appearances between them twiddling their thumbs while an 18-year-old (Stefan Bajcetic) made his first Premier League start, and a player who is out of contract at the end of the season, and free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with other clubs now (Naby Keita) made his first league start in eight months.
“That’s a statement from Klopp, whichever way you slice it, and perhaps just as telling is the fact that nobody could have any real qualms with his selection.
“It was Klopp, too, who pushed for Henderson to be given a new four-year deal in the summer of 2021, and while the captain has surely earned more than a bit of leeway regarding his on-field struggles this season, the reality is that he will be 33 in June.
“It appears as if he can no longer do the things that made him such an asset to a side built around the fundamentals of intensity, energy and relentless discipline. The eyes tell you that, and the numbers back it up.
“Fabinho, too, could soon find himself under pressure. The Brazilian is three years younger than Henderson, but he too looks like a player in decline, or at least struggling to maintain the huge standards set in recent seasons. The man they call ‘Dyson’, after the famous vacuum cleaner, has looked for months as if he needs charging up.
“Already this season, Fabinho has sat on the bench for games against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, while Henderson was a substitute for the wins over Manchester City and Tottenham.
“It is their struggles this season, as much as anything, which has ripped the heart out of Klopp’s side.”
Klopp on Chelsea performance
“First and foremost, before the game I got a lot of messages [about my 1,00th game] and not all of them were nice. I think Arsene Wenger lost his 1,000th game 6-0, so I am really happy that didn't happen. I liked the start in the first half, I liked particularly the start in the second half, so that was good [but] we have to extend these spells.
“We have to play more football, especially in the first half when we won balls back, when we defended really well, when we were really aggressive and then we gave the balls away too easily. We had other moments where we played pretty well, didn’t get it to create a no-brainer or whatever, but it was good.
“For me, it is clear, in this situation you have to be ready for little steps – and this was a little step today, that's how it is. I expect progress and I think from the last league game [at Brighton] it was progress, definitely, and that's important. I saw us in a lot of moments really compact, really being together, good challenges, but of course the opponent is there as well and sometimes you have to defend them with passion. We didn't do that two weeks ago but today we did, so when you have a block in the last second like Robbo had, that is really important. These things are positives and from there we go.
“We were compact, we won really good balls, we caused them problems and from there then we have to do better with the ball. That's possible and it was already better than the last league game, that we really keep the balls and play from there.
“It's like, even Thiago, who is obviously a great footballer, gave balls away, unforced errors and these kind of things. That’s what we have to do better. If we do that, if we defend well and then play in these moments more, use each other more then all of a sudden it looks completely different. That is where we have to get to.”
On youngsters getting opportunities: “There are not a lot of good things in the situation we are in, but obviously that opens doors and gaps and situations for young players. It is obviously one of the rare positive things, especially Stefan. There was a door, I'm not even sure it was open, but he ran through it and he was exceptional. He does really well in the moment, I think that’s clear.
“We have to be a bit careful with him of course, he's really young. He had a yellow card and I don’t even know [if] it was his fault, to be 100 per cent honest, but he got a yellow card, so of course he got tired, but [he] was still really good in the game. Each player when he gets tired and is on a yellow card is a risk, and we didn't want to take that. But, no, he is doing really well.
“Harvey played already the year before for us, I don't know how long he is already really a fixed part of the squad, so [I] would say it's slightly different even when he is really young. But he had already really a lot of good games and he can play different positions.
“In our situation that's really important, obviously we like... proper wingers, if you want, of course they are all not available, but Harvey can play there. In a different way, yes, but he can play there. He's more in position if he plays on the right side but there is Mo. So, that goes well – these are positives.”
On the importance of recording a clean sheet: “Massive, massive. So, directly after the game you cannot forget the chances they had, where we defended in the last seconds with a block. But tomorrow I don't remember them anymore, it's just a clean sheet and it feels really good. So, how I said, there are things we have to build on, that's what we will do. So, the next opponent now is not [in the] Premier League, but in the FA Cup and it's Brighton. That's a team we didn't do too well [against] in the last game. So, we said we should try to do better and that’s what we will try. It will be interesting.”
Calvin Ramsay interview with the club
"At a club like this there are lots of players and if you don’t make an impact then maybe the manager will choose someone else next time," Ramsay told the official matchday programme.
"Up in Scotland you maybe get a few chances because the squads aren’t as big, but down here you’ve got to take every chance – even in training – to impress. It’s a fine line but I think I can handle it.”
On making his Liverpool debut in the Champions League against Napoli at Anfield: “I was very nervous! I was shaking a little bit because I’d never really played in an atmosphere like that in front of 50,000 fans. It was unbelievable for me and being in the Champions League as well was a special moment, as was having my family there.”
On his first Reds start against Derby County in the Carabao Cup: “Yeah, I think I did well, but I also think I could have done a bit better going forward. Overall I thought I was quite composed on the ball – which I think is another one of my attributes – so I think it was a good start and now I need to take the next opportunity and keep building on it by trying to get a run in the team.
On there being an emphasis on full-backs to get assists at Liverpool: “It’s a big pressure because of the amount of assists Trent and Robbo have got. I know that if I want to get into the team, I need to get assists and pop up with some goals here and there. My biggest attributes are attacking, crossing and cutting inside to shoot, so once I get a chance I need to show those things and take my opportunity.”
On whether he has goals in his locker: “Yeah! Well to be honest, I’ve not scored a lot at professional level but in the youth academy I used to score quite a few. I was top goalscorer one season. Maybe it’s a bit easier to score from midfield, but at right-back I like to get up the pitch and attack. That’s my main attribute and I’ve shown a few times that I can cut in on my left foot and shoot. I think I can get goals.”
Alisson interview with the club:
On whether he felt a draw against Chelsea was a fair result: “I think the draw was fair enough for what both teams produced [and] created during the game. But we have some positive things, the clean sheet is one of them. Everybody knows the situation we are [in], we have to create, building up the confidence again and defending is part of that confidence.
“So, today we keep the clean sheet with us and the way we defended on the pitch with the right attitude. Of course, Chelsea, they were dangerous at times because of the quality of their team, their players, that’s clear. I think we dealt really well with the situations that they had in front of our goal.
On how much the team can take from their second half performance and what changes were made: “Well, what we are trying to do in every game is improving every time we have the ball. I think in the first half we didn’t play too much, we didn’t create enough situations and didn’t put our opponents in dangerous moments.
“In the second half straight from the restart of the match it was like that. We put them in dangerous situations and that gives you a good feeling during the game and gives you more confidence. Unfortunately we didn’t finish those situations off that we had, but there is as well the hard work from Chelsea defensively, as they have similar problems pretty much as we have.”
Bajcetic post-match interview after Chelsea draw
On whether 0-0 was a fair result based on the performance: “Yeah, I think it was, to be fair. Sometimes you felt like somebody will win. There were good moments, bad moments. At the start of the second half, I think we were amazing, we were pressing, having the ball and having chances – but unluckily we didn't score and they had moments. But I think it's a fair result and a great clean sheet for us.
“It was all about being compact again. Last game we were more compact, this game we were a bit more compact as well. It's all about being compact and giving everything basically. We [Us and Chelsea] are chasing the same thing – top four. It was important to win [on Saturday] but it was very important to not lose.
“I found out [I was starting] [on Friday]. Obviously we prepare for the game the day before and I found out, I was a bit shocked. I'm so happy to be here and to play and to help the team.
On playing after being booked: “Obviously you have to be more careful the whole game; some challenges you know you can't be as strong because if you're late it might be another yellow and then you don't want to let the team down. I was just trying to keep safe in all the tackles.
On Thiago: “He's always trying to help me and on the pitch he's talking to me, encouraging me. It's amazing to play with him and so easy as well.”
And on signing a new contract:
“Obviously I’m so, so happy, so excited to keep playing for this club and hopefully I can play more years together. Me and my family are very proud to sign a new contract with this club.
“It's crazy. A year ago I was playing U18s football and now I've started some games, made my debut and even scored a goal – that was something I never expected to happen this year. It's amazing to see how fast it went. But I keep working hard and hopefully [there are] more things to come.
“My target is to be a regular here at Liverpool and keep winning trophies with this club and achieving things collectively basically.
“It feels amazing. It's something I've been dreaming of in these two years I've been here and something that I've been working hard [for] as well. Thankfully I got it.”
Sean Rogers “can’t believe” Nunez being benched vs Chelsea on The Anfield Wrap’s review
“My guess is that Nunez was one of those precautionary ones; another game where we drop points and due to the algorithm, we don’t start someone, and instead we throw him on having sat there cold for an hour. I can’t believe that people are better off playing 35 mins having sat in Wim Hof [TV show set in sub-zero temperatures] conditions for an hour, when they could have done a full warm up and then reassessed him in the dressing room before the game.
“Then you lose the penetration of Nunez, so it has to be Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left. You need pace.”
Jamie Carragher on Liverpool’s top four hopes (said on Sky, quotes found via Liverpool ECHO):
"I don't think Liverpool will get top four. Only 10 points [off top four]? How many points until you say someone can't do something? Liverpool are not playing well enough.”
It could be argued that Liverpool were nine points off 3rd place Leicester with 11 games remaining in 2021 and the Reds ended up finishing 3rd themselves, three points above the Foxes in 5th
“Chelsea have stepped up contract talks with Mason Mount amid interest from Liverpool in a summer move for the midfielder, according to The Guardian.
“The 24-year-old has 18 months on his Chelsea deal but the Blues are reportedly yet to meet his wage demands with Liverpool prepared to act on their interest in the England international if there is no resolution in talks.
“The report also claims Juventus are interested in Mount, who has been at Chelsea since the age of six.
“Liverpool are weighing up a move for Ruben Neves as the Portuguese midfielder's contract ticks down at Wolves, according to the Sunday Mirror. Jurgen Klopp has claimed his club have spent their entire transfer budget on £45m January signing Cody Gakpo but the manager is a big admirer of Neves, and with just 18 months left on the 25-year-old's deal at Molineux, it may suit Wolves and Liverpool to strike an agreement now.
“The Midlands club once valued their most influential player at £70m, but they know his price is falling with every week he fails to sign fresh terms.
“While Newcastle are also monitoring Neves' situation, they are unlikely to make a move until the summer.
“Liverpool and Chelsea are among a number of clubs who continue to keep an eye on Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo's situation.Caicedo has two-and-a-half years left on his contract and Brighton are aware of the interest in the player.
“One interesting development this month concerns his representation. It is understood he will move to a new agency - thought to be Futbol Division.
“It is the same company that looks after Caicedo's Ecuador team-mate Piero Hincapie.
“Speaking this week after Brighton's 4-1 win at Everton, Caicedo said he intends to help Brighton qualify for the Europa League this season, suggesting he will not be moving in January.
“The Ecuador international said: "We are having a great season with this coach and I am sure we are going to stay up there in the table. We are training very well, are very focused on every match and I'm sure we will take Brighton to a qualification place for the Europa League."
Amrabat, Bellingham, Fernandez
Speaking to Empire of the Kop, Anas Bakhkhar from Foot Mercato said: “Just to remind everyone, there was a positive meeting during the World Cup between Amrabat’s entourage and Liverpool but unfortunately, his agent thought that Liverpool were linked with a lot of midfielders during this transfer window – like Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez and Liverpool were having discussions with Borussia Dortmund and Benfica.”
“Liverpool may reportedly face competition for the signing of Wolves midfielder Matheus Nunes.
“The Reds have been credited with an interest in the Portugal international ever since last summer. When the player was at Sporting Lisbon, Liverpool were linked with a move before he completed a £38m switch to Molineux.
“Since then, rumours have emerged that Liverpool could make a move in the summer for Nunes. Various price tags have emerged, with the most consistent figure being in the region of £44m.
“Now, according to a report in The Telegraph, another club may be looking at signing Nunes. It has been claimed that Chelsea are showing an interest in the player.
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