Jurgen Klopp says there are two ways of improving in football and explains Liverpool’s preference is to hunt down “world-class potential”.
The German has certainly done that after arriving in October 2015, succeeding Brendan Rodgers with a transfer record that is as good as any in the world.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson have all developed into world-class talents since arriving at Anfield, while the likes of Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino have improved immeasurably under his tutelage, not to mention emerging talent Trent Alexander-Arnold.
In fact Klopp says all of his squad have improved in the four years he has been in England.
In an exclusive interview with the Liverpool Echo, Klopp said: “In football, there are two ways to improve. One is to sign good players and the second is training, but having time together is always good.
“We don’t start at minus 20 and say ‘by the way, set-piece, we do this, we do that’ and you have to explain to six players and you think ‘oh God!’. Having a basis is brilliant, but you need world-class players and if they are not world-class already, they need the world-class potential. That is what we need at a club like Liverpool.
“I think that is what we tried to do and it I think it worked pretty well. All the boys have improved a lot since we were together and that is what you have to do. So whatever we achieved, we did it because the boys always took the next steps, got more mature, got more confident and more convinced about the way we play.
“I think meanwhile, it becomes really natural for the boys and that is so important. For us, our big target was to qualify for the Champions League and it was clear we wanted to do that. But it’s the most difficult league to do this in, in England, but it happened somehow.”
Klopp though has given credit to his predecessor Rodgers and says the now Leicester boss laid a lot of the groundwork.
“I didn’t look at it as having to change a lot. OK, it was clear that something is not going exactly how the people want it to go,” Klopp added.
“I said it before and it is pretty much a famous phrase, nobody likes this team, not even the team likes the team, so that was something we had to change first and foremost.
“We have to feel the value they have, that they are in the right place and the right club and the history of the club doesn’t feel too much on their shoulders and all these things, so, those were the things we had to change immediately.”