Jurgen Klopp believes Wilfried Zaha’s contract extension is the equivalent of a “spectacular transfer” for Crystal Palace.
The Ivory Coast international was linked with a move away from the club throughout the summer, but signed a new deal earlier this week to stay with Palace until 2023.
The Eagles strengthened their squad with Cheikhou Kouyate, Max Meyer and Jordan Ayew but Klopp has identified the extension as Palace’s best piece of business.
“There were no spectacular signings but if you want you can see Zaha as a spectacular transfer,” he said, speaking ahead of Liverpool’s Monday night trip to Selhurst Park.
“I think they are pretty happy that Wilfried signed a new contract. He’s very important and last year was probably the best example of that.”
Zaha will be partnered in Palace’s attack by former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke, who was sold by Klopp in 2016.
Benteke is looking to bounce back after managing just three goals in 31 Premier League appearances last season and missing out on selection for Belgium’s World Cup squad.
Klopp, however, is under no illusions about the threat posed by Benteke
“Everybody who thinks about writing Benteke off makes a big mistake, because his obvious skills are always there,” Klopp said.
“Even if he didn’t score too often last season, he always has opportunities. It’s a big challenge to defend set-pieces when Christian is around.
“He will score goals this season, there’s no doubt about that.”
The task of stopping Benteke is likely to fall to Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk.
Gomez is getting a chance early in the season to establish himself as Van Dijk’s partner of choice in central defence, with Joel Matip still working his way back to full fitness after injury and Dejan Lovren being eased back into competitive action after helping Croatia reach the World Cup final.
He has typically been deployed at right back in the majority of his games for Liverpool since joining from Charlton in 2015 but Klopp is confident in the 21-year-old’s ability to play centrally.
“There was never any doubt about Joe and his ability to play centre-back, but he needed time,” said Klopp.
“He’s a very good football player, plays the position well and he has a very good understanding with Virgil.”