Liverpool assistant head coach Pepijn Lijnders has revealed the drastic turn of events that led to him joining the Reds after earlier talks over a move to Manchester United failed.
Lijnders moved to Anfield in 2014 from Porto – initially as a youth coach – before being promoted to his current role at the start of the 2015/16 season.
The Dutchman left Liverpool in January 2018 to undertake a spell as manager of NEC Nijmegen in his home country, but he moved back to Merseyside in May the same year to rejoin Jurgen Klopp on the Reds’ coaching staff.
Speaking to The Athletic, Lijnders opened up about the journey that initially took him to Liverpool in 2014 after failed talks with United a year earlier, with then-Liverpool academy boss Michael Beale heavily involved.
“On the Monday I was supposed to go to Ajax to make the final negotiations with them. I had to call my wife and tell her there had been a change of plan,” the 36-year-old said.
“Michael said: ‘You’re coming in the car to Liverpool with us.’ When Liverpool said I could have the under-16s and under-15s, I thought ‘this is perfect’.”
Lijnders added about Klopp taking over from Brendan Rodgers at the helm: “When Jurgen got announced, I had a good feeling. I thought it would work well but you can never be 100 per cent sure.
“To coach is easy but to know what to coach is much more difficult. Jurgen had a way of coaching and exercises which were close to my own.”
Elsewhere, former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has said that he feels Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka would become a much better player if he was to move to Anfield.
Xhaka has endured a tough season so far at the Emirates, coming in for heavy criticism and earlier being dropped and stripped of the captaincy by former Gunners boss Unai Emery.
Murphy told talkSPORT: “If Xhaka was in Liverpool‘s side with [Jordan] Henderson and Fabinho, he would look a hell of a player because he is technically good, a good passer, has a great shot on him and he has the ability with his great left foot to open you up,” the pundit said.
“But when you are playing in a team that is struggling a bit, he is a passenger defensively and a liability. It is a dilemma for Mikel Arteta because he has a squad that needs a bit of tinkering.”