The five Liverpool players that defined the Jurgen Klopp era
The curtain will fall on Jurgen Klopp’s reign as Liverpool manager at the end of the season. Klopp will undoubtedly go down as not only one of the greatest Liverpool managers of all time but also of the Premier League era.
While a manager is hugely instrumental to the success of a football club, the players they have at their disposal make a key difference as well. While Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho were all world-class managers, they benefited from the Wayne Rooneys, Thierry Henrys and Frank Lampards who played to such a high level week in, week out.
There were many outstanding performers for Liverpool through the Klopp era, who all benefited from his elite man management and technical prowess. But who were the German’s top five most important players during his time at Anfield?
5. Allison Becker
On the back of two huge mistakes from Loris Karius in the 2018 Champions League final, it was clear that Liverpool needed a solid pair of hands in between the sticks. To say that Allison has been that would be a huge understatement. Signed from Roma for $128 million, Alison became the most expensive goalkeeper of all time at the time. That now looks like a bargain. Since he came in he has performed to an elite level and is arguably the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history.
A world-class goalkeeper is essential for a club that wants to win big trophies and the Brazilian goalkeeper was pivotal in the Champions League and Premier League titles that Klopp won in 2019 and 2020 respectively. If Liverpool are to clinch another Premier League title this season, you can be sure Allison will be key to them achieving it.
4. Trent Alexander-Arnold
The man who revolutionised the full-back position, Alexander-Arnold has been vital to everything Liverpool have achieved during Klopp’s tenure. The assist for Origi’s goal against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final will live long in the memory of Liverpool’s fans and epitomises the creativity and vision of Alexander-Arnold. To be so average defensively and still be in the conversation for one of the best full-backs in the world just shows how incredible his footballing ability is.
Being made vice-captain ahead of players like Allison, Salah and Robertson just shows how much Klopp values him. A player who will probably finish his career at Liverpool, it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to life after Klopp.
3. Jordan Henderson
In all honesty, there have been well over 20 players under Klopp at Liverpool who are far more technically gifted than Jordan Henderson. However, Henderson’s outstanding leadership and ability to improve those around him earn him a place in the top three. Jordan Henderson is one of the best captains the Premier League has seen. While nowhere near the level of Steven Gerrard as a player, many consider Henderson to be a far better leader than his predecessor. This is monumental praise when you consider that Gerrard is arguably Liverpool’s greatest-ever player.
Alexander-Arnold lauded Henderson for allowing him to flourish and go forward from right-back, while Henderson would do the dirty work and fill in the gaps. The man who captained Liverpool to their first league title in 30 years, and their sixth European Cup, Jordan Henderson will always be one of the first names that come to mind when people talk about Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team.
2. Virgil van Dijk
The signing of van Dijk in 2018 signified an inevitability for Liverpool: finally getting their hands on a Premier League trophy. Signed as the world’s most expensive defender from Southampton in January 2018, there is a strong argument to say that without van Dijk Liverpool wouldn’t have won the Champions League in 2019. Without the Dutch centre-half, they definitely wouldn’t have won the Premier League in 2020. After all, defences win titles and van Dijk isn’t just an elite defender in a good defence. He is a world-class defender who elevates the performance of his centre-back partner.
Whether it be Joe Gomez or Joel Matip, van Dijk always seemed to make his partner perform to a higher level during that golden period when Liverpool claimed the biggest trophies in club football. After a slight drop off in recent years, van Dijk, now captain of Liverpool, looks back to his frightening best.
1. Mohammed Salah
While there have been many mercurial talents to play under Klopp, Salah simply can’t be displaced as undoubtedly the most important player of a truly amazing era. Deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, Salah built himself back up at Fiorentina and Roma. What makes the story of the Egyptian King even more remarkable is the fact that Klopp initially didn’t want Salah in his ranks. Even the top managers get it wrong sometimes!
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The goal record and consistent elite seasons speak for themselves and Salah, like all five of these players goes down as a Liverpool Icon. Not only that, he probably goes down as the greatest winger to have ever graced the Premier League.