How Liverpool went from the stepping stone to the destination for world-class talents

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Written by Jack Bailey [email protected]

In the premier league era, Liverpool have so often been a stepping stone to clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Players such as Emre Can, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho have all left Liverpool in recent memory to move for bigger chances at silverware. Going further back Steve Mcmanaman and Michael Owen both left for Real Madrid for the same reasons. At the same time, domestic silverware has eluded the reds.

Several European trophies and domestic cups have been won but not on a consistent basis and the premier league has always been out of reach. For a time, it seemed like as soon as Liverpool had a squad worthy of challenging, someone always left for pastures new and was not correctly replaced.

A prime example of this is when Luis Suarez left for Barcelona, several players such as Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic were signed but none helped fill the void that was left by the Uruguayan. Player recruitment has been an issue for Liverpool during the entire premier league era. A combination of lack of huge finances, bad ownership and players preferring the lure of living in London has stopped the likes of Willian, Dani Alves and Yevhen Konoplyanka among many others from joining Anfield. It wasn’t until the combination of Mike Gordon, Michael Edwards and Jurgen Klopp that this issue was fixed.

Players now want to come to Liverpool and that is largely because of Jurgen Klopp and the work he has done to transform the club over the last 5 years.



 

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Before Jurgen Klopp came to the club, this was a consistent problem every 4-5 years. They would build up a squad that can challenge, then the best player of the team (or one of the best) would leave for pastures new and would lead to another rebuild of the team. Klopp was the first Liverpool manager to specify that he wants players to help push Liverpool forward instead of jumping ship to bigger things. During Klopp’s first season he said in a press conference ‘If I spoke to a player now and he told me: ‘If you were playing in the Champions League next year then I would be really interested,’ I would put the phone down.

That is what I would say to players. It is about pushing the train, not jumping on a running train.’. Players in Liverpool’s past have either stopped pushing the train or not been good enough to push the train to the destination. The current squad are more than worthy and are constantly pushing themselves and the club to new heights. Jurgen Klopp has previously never purchased ready made world-class talent, the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus were purchased from Lech Poznan and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively.

Even at Liverpool he got Sadio Mane from Southampton, Joel Matip from Schalke and Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle just to name a few. He doesn’t buy world-class talent he makes players into it. In a recent interview he stated that he would rather manage the next Kyllian Mbappe than buy Mbappe himself, thats how his philosophy works.

At Liverpool the exceptions to this have been the signings of Virgil van Djik and Alisson, two players that already had top-class quality and these were purchased because of the gaping holes Klopp noticed in the side at those times. The imminent arrival of Thiago Alcantara also goes against Klopp’s usual model but it’s slightly different because the fee is small and payed over the course of the contract and with bonuses. Liverpool just pay Bayern £5 million every year for his standard 4 year deal.

These signings prove that Liverpool are no longer the stepping stones for other clubs, they are the destination for the world’s top talent. Thiago was offered a 4 year extension by the european champions and turned it down because he wanted to come to Liverpool.

Liverpool now sit firmly with the elite and if they want a player and the price is right, it will be very hard for that player to refuse a spot on this Liverpool team.

Written by Jack Bailey – [email protected]

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