Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp credits Vitor Matos in the rise of Rhys Williams at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has name-checked Liverpool’s elite development coach Vitor Matos as a key figure in developing young talent Rhys Williams, who has recently broke into the Reds first team.

The former FC Porto coach has played a pivotal role in integrating Williams from the academy into the senior set-up since he returned from a loan spell in National League North with Kidderminster Harriers last season.

Williams, 19, came off the bench to make his second Champions League bout in the space of six days after he replaced the injured Fabinho early on in the 2-0 victory against FC Midtjylland on Tuesday.

The Brazilian was forced off with a hamstring problem and according to The Times, is expected to miss Liverpool’s next three matches against West Ham, Atalanta and Manchester City.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 27: Rhys Williams of Liverpool gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group D stage match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield on October 27, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

And given the number of defenders on the sidelines, which also includes Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, Williams could be expected to make his Premier League debut against the Hammers on Saturday.

When questioned about Williams during his Friday afternoon press conference, Klopp said: “I cannot say too much about his progress in the last few years, to be 100% honest.

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“But I can say a lot about his progress in the last few weeks or months since he is with us [in first team training].

“This is pretty exceptional. But he was already a really good kid when he arrived here.

“The situation was one of the benefits of having Vitor Matos in the coaching staff.

“He made us aware of [Williams] and said ‘he is really good, take him in training’ so that’s what we did. He looked good!”

With Liverpool’s defensive options depleted to the bare minimum, Joe Gomez represents Klopp’s only recognised central defensive option at the manager’s disposal.

However, even in the midst of so many physical setbacks to his players, Klopp has indicated that his list of centre-back options extends further to Gomez and Williams, as he referenced two more defenders desperate to make their mark.

He added: “We still have Billy the kid [Koumetio] and Nat Phillips as well.

“Billy was not available for some reasons in the last 10/12 days but he’s now back.

“They all train with us, they are all with us and now we have to make decisions.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 10: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool with Vitor Matos elite development coach of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on September 10, 2020 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

What RTK has to say

It isn’t surprising to see that Matos played such a vital role in Williams’ rise to the first-team.

After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Pep Lijnders was referencing him as Liverpool’s ‘signing of the season’ after Matos joined the Reds from FC Porto in October 2019.

Speaking during a press conference last season, Lijnders said: “For me, he is our best signing this season…He is a talented coach, a very intelligent coach. We have already seen the impact he has made on them.”

The Portuguese coach was brought into the club to bridge the gap between the academy and the first team under the title of Elite Development Coach, which was a role that Lijnders himself previously occupied – with both coaches previously working together at Porto.

Speaking to Record in Portugal, Matos recently opened on his first year at Liverpool and discussed his plans for the future.

He said: “ It’s amazing to be able to live with people like Jürgen and Pep, I’m fulfilled and motivated. We never know what will come next, but I believe it will happen. I don’t know when it will be, but I’m not worried about it.”

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