Five Liverpool players who have been transformed since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp
Chris Bascombe indentifies five players that have taken huge strides forward since Jürgen Klopp arrived at Anfield .
Before: Was nearly sold in successive transfer windows and could never fully convince Brendan Rodgers he was athletic enough or had the range of passing to play more than a holding role. Was not even in the 18 man squad at the start of the season.
Now: Has become one of Klopp’s most trusted on-field lieutenants, not merely sitting in front of the back four but also pressing much higher up the pitch and demonstrating a broader range of passing. He can rest easily he is not for sale this January.
Before: Was described as a ‘club signing’ by Rodgers when he joined from PSG and, like Lucas, was a notable absentee from the 18 man squad when Liverpool kicked off their season at Stoke City. That seems a long time ago now. Klopp thought Sakho must have been injured when he was informed of this on arriving on Merseyside.
Now: Although he is currently injured, Sakho was one of the first names on the team sheet when Klopp considered his early selections. Those who always rated the French defender and thought he was unfairly maligned had long argued it was the confidence of the manager that was lacking rather than defensive ability.
Before: Lost his place to youngster Joe Gomez during the pre-season because Brendan Rodgers did not trust him as a left back in a back four. Moreno made too many mistakes in high profile fixtures and had a habit of turning his back on crosses rather than closing down wingers. He was played as a left wing-back
Now: Has been transformed into one of the Premier League’s most exciting left backs, his performance against Manchester City somewhat overlooked. Few are now getting past him, while his pace as an overlapping full-back is a major facet of Klopp’s high energy game.
Before: Lallana was drifting through games. A technically gifted player, he’d float around with his neat touches and clever turns but was too peripheral, neither creating enough or scoring to be considered a top class number ten. He also seemed to be subbed around the hour of each match.
Now: No player is more emblematic of Klopp’s transformation. Lallana began sprinting full pelt at defenders during Klopp’s first game at White Hart Lane in October and has not stopped running since. He is contributing in the final third more, imposing himself on games with his all-action style. His link-up with Coutinho and Firmino last weekend was devastating.
Before: No-one was sure where Firmino was supposed to play at the start of the season. As a number ten, he seemed out of place – particularly with Coutinho and Lallana vying for the same place – and as a winger he was too slow. The suspicion was Rodgers was not entirely convinced the Brazilian had the class his t£28m fee suggested.
Now: Klopp described Firmino as one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting players from last season and told him to play as a striker. His close control and positional play conjured memories of Luis Suarez when he was at his most raw during his early Anfield days. It’s too early to say Firmino will ever be that good, but no-one has mentioned his transfer fee since Klopp became Liverpool manager.