Premier League • England

Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders reveals ‘crazy thought’ after failed Arsenal request from Mikel Arteta

Pep Lijnders, Chelsea v Liverpool January 2022

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has revealed how he declined a request from Mikel Arteta to link up with the Spaniard at Arsenal.

Dutchman Lijnders has played a vital role alongside Jurgen Klopp in the trophy success at Anfield in recent years. While Klopp is the overall architect of Liverpool’s recent rise, Lijnders is the brains behind the operation.

Indeed, he has received acclaim from Klopp for his tactical awareness and ability to spot young talents. In fact, Lijnders was a major factor in helping Trent Alexander-Arnold become the player he has.

As a result, fellow professionals such as Arteta became aware of his talent for coaching.

And Lijnders has revealed how Arteta – a former assistant at Manchester City himself – asked the Liverpool man to be his assistant at Arsenal.

“Mikel Arteta had asked me to be his assistant manager when he was preparing for his new step into management,” Lijnders wrote in his new book, Intensity: Inside Liverpool FC: Our Story.

“We were together years earlier on the Pro Licence course. His request came out of nothing.

“Imagine the assistant of Pep Guardiola and the assistant of Jurgen Klopp at Arsenal. What a crazy thought. Mikel said he felt: ‘There was just a difference playing Liverpool before and after you came in.’ This was the biggest compliment I ever got from somebody.⁣

“I politely said no to him. A few months later, we won the title for the first time in 30 years.”

Lijnders playing vital Liverpool role

Lijnders has been at Liverpool since 2014 but spent four months away in 2018 to try his hand as a manager at Dutch side NEC Nijmegen.

Before his move to Anfield, the 39-year-old spent time as a technical coach at Porto. His experience in Portugal therefore played a major role in Liverpool scouting the country’s top flight.

Luis Diaz, who signed from Porto in January, has slotted perfectly into Klopp’s system.

Meanwhile, ex-Benfica man Darwin Nunez scored four goals as a substitute last Thursday to open his account in style.

As well as Alexander-Arnold, Lijnders has also been keen to work with other young talents. Kaide Gordon has progressed since his move from Derby, with midfielder Stefan Bajcetic making his mark in pre-season.

Assistant boss can have career of his own

Ultimately, though, Lijnders will have ambitions of forging a management career of his own – and he certainly has the talent.

The assistant took charge of Liverpool away at Chelsea in January, when Klopp was out of action due to coronavirus.

He has also taken charge of youthful Reds teams such as those in the Carabao Cup on occasions.

There is talk that Lijnders could even replace Klopp when the German’s latest contract expires in 2026.

Lijnders has achieved so much already as the assistant and it would be a seamless transition to an exciting up-and-coming manager who knows the Liverpool way.