Jurgen Klopp refused to be drawn on whether Liverpool want to renew Emre Can's contract and suggested that a recurring calf injury is the reason for his patchy form.
The 23-year-old has been a regular for the club since joining at the start of the 2014-15 season, but he is now into the final 18 months of his contract.
Can has struggled to impress this term, with Klopp revealing that a persistent calf injury is what has been holding him back.
But Klopp was not eager to publicly assure the player of a new deal, insisting Can knows what he has to do.
"I speak to the players, not the press," he told reporters.
"If I say yes [to wanting to extend Can's contract] it puts pressure on the club to do it immediately. If I say no the player thinks I do not want him anymore.
"Emre knows exactly what we want. That's the only thing that matters.
"Maybe if he didn't know what I think it would affect him but he knows what I want."
Klopp is expecting Can to now kick-on after seemingly overcoming problems with his calves, though he acknowledged that the injury has left Liverpool's medical staff somewhat flummoxed.
"Emre has for the first time had no problems with his calves," Klopp said.
"We need him. In different parts of the game he is really consistent for us, and Chelsea was his best game for a few weeks, that is for sure.
"He has this calf issue which we are still looking into and trying to find out why. Is it his back? Is it his ankle?
"It lets him stay on the pitch but it makes him struggle a little bit. We could have said 'stay off for two or three weeks', but we don't have a lot of options.
"We've tried to work on this while he is playing. It would be nice if we have now found the exact reason and the solution.
"Everyone could see the difference when he's able to play without issues."