Jurgen Klopp admits he is a huge admirer of the talents of Arsenal youngster Gabriel Martinelli after the Liverpool manager labelled the Brazilian the “talent of the century”.
The 18-year-old, who completed a £5m move to the Gunners over the summer from Ituano, netted twice at Anfield during Wednesday’s 5-5 thriller – a game in which Liverpool eventually prevailed, 5-4 on penalties.
Martinelli took his tally for the season to seven goals in seven appearances – most of which having come in the cup competitions – and Klopp admits Martinelli is one to keep an eye on.
And with Manchester United having rejected the chance to sign the player over the summer, Klopp believes Arsenal have unearthed a gem as he also warmly praised his own youngsters for the way they battled back and held their nerve from the spot to overcome the Gunners.
“Sepp van den Berg played an incredible game,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.
“That’s really difficult to deal with these guys. Martinelli’s pretty much the same age but he’s a talent of the century, he’s an incredible striker, so it’s really difficult.
“Then you have Mesut Ozil around and [Joe] Willock right, who scored by the way a really nice one, so a team like Arsenal in a counter-attacking mood – we keep them deep, play around them, we lose the ball and then it’s really difficult.”
Dutch defender Van den Berg, 17, was one of five Anfield debutants to start the match, alongside 16-year-old Harvey Elliott, while Klopp also pinned his trust in penalty hero Curtis Jones, Rhian Brewster, Neco Williams, and Caoimhin Kelleher.
And Klopp insists the future is bright for Liverpool if their current young crop keep progressing as they are.
“The kids showing up like crazy and I’m so pleased for them that they have a first Anfield experience like that !” he added.
“With all the emotions when you saw the faces, the face of Caoimhin Kelleher when he saved the penalty, of Curtis Jones when he scored the penalty. How everybody ran to Neco Williams when he crossed the ball to Div, all these things are just so nice. It’s so nice.
“When I saw in front of me the fighting spirit of Rhian Brewster, when he won the ball like four times back, and we go out there and the next moment we score a goal. These are so important moments for these kids, of course, but for all the other LFC kids as well.”
Klopp added: “We had a meeting after the Tottenham game on Monday morning when all the young boys and the other players were together.
“The young boys were sitting on the left and I told them: ‘It’s good that you are here when we speak about the game from yesterday because that’s the way we play, that’s the way you have to play if you want to be part of this.’ It’s not too difficult so you can do that.
“Four or five of them tonight had the opportunity to do it and it’s really nice.”