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 By Steven Kelly

Jordan Henderson's Liverpool exit a possibility under Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp suffered his first defeat in nine games as Liverpool threw away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 against Southampton last Sunday, a cue for all manner of criticism to come his way.

The German has enjoyed favourable treatment from Liverpool fans and elsewhere in the media but there was much discussion about him replacing Dejan Lovren with Martin Skrtel at half-time.

He was also criticised for gesticulations toward a wasteful Christian Benteke, most notably by the BBC's Alan Shearer. Managers have their styles and Klopp is hardly likely to change his now. His pitchside antics already ruffle feathers in England, causing ructions with the likes of Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew. Ronald Koeman clearly relished Southampton's winner on Sunday, too, running down the touchline to celebrate with his players.

Klopp's charm and refreshing honesty is mostly deflecting from anything else, which others find distasteful, in contrast with someone like Pardew, who is still bellyaching about the penalty his Crystal Palace side conceded to Liverpool more than two weeks ago.

The Liverpool boss' candour presents problems, though. His remarks about transfer rumours involving his captain Jordan Henderson caused some fans to wonder if the midfielder was out of favour. But in a season when Henderson has suffered his first real spell of prolonged injury since coming to Anfield, people are perhaps too quick to jump to conclusions.

Based on a drab, often comically inept first season for Liverpool, the former Sunderland man always has to fight misconceptions about his abilities and his importance to the team. It should be recalled what happened to Liverpool's season during 2013-14 after he was red-carded against Manchester City on April 13. A nervous win against Norwich followed before a damaging defeat 2-0 against Chelsea and a shocking 3-3 draw with Palace, having led 3-0.

Henderson was inevitably absent when Liverpool conceded another three cheap goals on Sunday, too. He may not be the most gifted player in England, but when fit and in form he is a big asset to Liverpool. Fans know there'll be an influx of new players this summer as Klopp tries to mould the Liverpool squad more in his image. What's in question is how all this will be funded.

Raheem Sterling's £50 million move to Manchester City underwrote most of Liverpool's outlay last summer. It may be felt that Henderson, like the much-criticised Benteke, could be sold in order to help fund this transformation.

Klopp may feel he gets a lot of what Henderson provides from the emerging Emre Can. His compatriot has been in fine form in recent weeks and there may be problems finding roles for both players in the same system.

Liverpool may also have too many attacking midfielders and not enough good passers showing calm in possession.

Jordan Henderson's future has come under scrutiny at Liverpool in recent weeks.

The Reds managed to knock Manchester United out of Europe, but there were times in a tense first half at Old Trafford when Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and even goal scorer Philippe Coutinho created more problems for their side than they solved.

The need for smarter game management would be better served by players like James Milner and Henderson himself, but again nobody knows who is coming to Anfield in the summer. The manager might have already made his mind up.

It is a squad game and there's room for all manner of footballers of all styles. It is, however, still uncertain whether Liverpool will have European football next season. If they continue to squander points as they did on Sunday they probably won't, and a smaller squad could suffice.

The Europa League might be won, of course, but that doesn't look likely either, thanks to the improvements made by Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, Klopp's successor. His side look strong at the moment, too strong perhaps to lose their quarterfinal to a Liverpool team that can't begin to match Tuchel's current win percentage of 77 percent.

No European qualification would mean Klopp having to help raise transfer funds from the squad bequeathed to him by Brendan Rodgers. In that case, Henderson's departure may be sad but necessary. Managers often have to return to clarify what they've said in news conferences -- Rodgers made a habit of it -- but if in the next few days Klopp doesn't seek to put his captain's mind at ease, rumours will only intensify.

Liverpool still have something to fight for this season. United's win 1-0 in the Manchester derby lessened the impact of Liverpool's defeat on the south coast. Fourth place, though unlikely, is still possible.

They will need all hands on deck to make sure this season doesn't peter out like the previous one. That means Henderson, for now at least, still has an important role to play at Anfield.

Steven Kelly writes about Liverpool for ESPN FC and has a weekly Liverpool column for The Irish Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.

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