Gini Wijnaldum spoke of Liverpool’s season, highlighting what is surely Jurgen Klopp’s greatest strength.
“We have evolved a lot,” Wijnaldum said, per Liverpoolfc.com. “You can see it not only with the results but also with the way we were playing. We grew during the season.
“We learned a lot. Everyone is a better player than they were before.”
That last line is key – every player is better, thanks to the work of Klopp. Klopp’s greatest strength is his ability to push players to new heights and here are three players who prove it.
Matip’s rise last season was incredible. He began as a somewhat-distant fourth-choice centre back, behind Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Dejan Lovren.
He ended it keeping clean sheets against Barcelona, Wolves, and Tottenham Hotspur on way to picking up a Champions League medal.
Forced into the lineup because of injuries, Matip grew from a shaky weak-link into a top-class defender in just a few months. A fine example of how Klopp took a maligned player and turned him into a world-beater.
Everyone went into the season knowing Mane was good but 18/19 became the best of his career. Two statistics really show it off.
First, there are his 22 Premier League goals. Mane has always scored but never at that rate – his tally, good enough to share the Golden Boot, is just one short of his first two Anfield seasons combined.
On top of that, a spell from mid-January to mid-March showed a new side to him – leader. Mohamed Salah stopped scoring and Mane stepped up with 11 goals in 11 games.
Important goals, too. His strikes were worth eight points in the league, while his brace in Bavaria saw off Bayern Munich in a 3-1 win.
Klopp’s work is evident here. He pushed an excellent player into the category of the truly elite.
Klopp decided to head into the 18/19 season with a 19-year-old right-back with one year of senior experience. He’d had a promising season, of course, eventually starting in the Champions League final and even playing a game at the World Cup.
Alexander-Arnold had shown weaknesses, though. Games where he’d gone missing and a couple where he really struggled with the opposition winger.
Now, one year later, he’s quite possibly the best right-back in the world. Alexander-Arnold set a new record for assists in the Premier League, finishing joint-3rd with 12. He was a part of the league’s best defence, conceding just 22 goals. He’s now a European champion.
Klopp has helped the youngster develop at an incredible pace, from someone of potential to a top-class player in the space of a year.