Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been working hard in a number of areas to ensure the club will still be in a healthy position when his time at Anfield comes to an end
Jurgen Klopp has confirmed he still plans to leave Liverpool at the end of his contract in 2024, but the German remains confident the club will still be well-positioned to continue fighting for honours when the time comes.
“Nothing has changed and if I decide to [leave] in 2024 it’ll be nothing to do with the quality of the squad,” Klopp revealed on Friday, insisting “the plan is still the same” after previously suggesting he would eventually return to Germany.
“All we do is for the long term. This club must be even better when I am not here anymore. That’s the plan,” he continued.
Liverpool fans might be reluctant to look too far into the future after they sealed their progress to the last eight of the Champions League on Tuesday night and are still in the mix to add three more trophies to their Carabao Cup triumph.
Even so, there are many ways in which Klopp has already begun keeping his promise to the club.
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Signing players for the future
Liverpool are already seeing the benefit of Harvey Elliott, who joined from Fulham as a teenager and hasn’t been rushed into first-team action.
It’s a process that Klopp looks set to repeat with Fabio Carvalho, who is still being tipped to move to Anfield in the summer despite the collapse of a January move.
Carvalho is a few months older than Elliott, but his contributions in the Championship this season – where he has already matched the seven goals his former under-23 teammate managed on loan at Blackburn last term – have been impressive.
Part of the challenge for Klopp has been finding young players capable of adapting to how his team plays, but the likes of Elliott and Carvalho could well have the quality and on-pitch maturity to do the same for his successor.
Continuing to nurture the academy
Klopp’s recent comments to Curtis Jones might have alarmed some supporters, but the reaction from the midfielder suggests they had the desired effect.
Jones has had a difficult season, thanks in part to illness and injury, and Klopp revealed he had a “long talk” with the academy talent in January.
“We have to now really make the next steps and make sure that he fulfils the potential he has on the pitch,” the manager admitted.
“You have these kinds of conversations when you are not 100 per cent happy with the moment.”
While there were still some concerns as Jones wasn’t included in the squad for the Carabao Cup final, his start against Inter points to a player back on track to follow in the footsteps of fellow academy graduate Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Even if Klopp does move on in 2024, he’s got plenty of time to add at least one more academy talent to that list of successes.
Creating a philosophy with training ground changes
The rise of academy players has coincided with changes to Liverpool’s training ground set-up, and Klopp has played a big part in this too.
The first-team and the under-23s now train in the same environment, with the new complex opened during the 2020-21 season, and the changes have allowed for a more joined-up approach.
As detailed in Simon Hughes’ book ‘Allez Allez Allez’, changes have made it easier for youngsters to train with the first team without their regular development suffering,
Measures like these should go some way to ensuring Klopp’s successor has one less thing to worry about, allowing the new boss to begin by focusing on on-field matters.
Refreshing the front-line in plenty of time
When Liverpool lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona in 2014, plenty of money was spent in an effort to replace the Uruguayan, but with little success.
The key, as Klopp has recognised, is finding and bedding in your replacement before the senior player leaves, rather than asking a lot from a new arrival as Brendan Rodgers attempted with Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert.
Diogo Jota’s arrival from Wolves came with a price tag that identified him as a big investment, but the continued presence of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino ensured he would have time to adjust to the needs of the system.
Similarly, Luis Diaz can find out what works and what doesn’t, and there are plenty of other options if he needs a little longer to find his groove, though some of his early performances have come as a bonus.
These moves have ensured Liverpool won’t face a repeat when one or more of their title-winning trio move on, though the next manager surely wouldn’t mind still being able to call on Salah et al.
Helping current players warm to coaching roles
Klopp has been adding to Liverpool’s coaching squad as well as the club’s playing staff, with World Cup-winning goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel arriving this season.
“He’s a really good guy. We’ve had this idea for a while to work with our talented keepers. An outstanding bunch of players there,” Klopp said of the Brazilian.
“We have lots of games, so constantly on the road. We wanted a real solution for these boys and want to create our own goalkeeper philosophy.”
Now, though, Liverpool might be able to look within when adding winners to their coaching staff.
James Milner is among the title-winners touted for a coaching role post-retirement, and in 2020 he said: “I think it would be a waste to move out of football with how lucky I’ve been, the knowledge I’ve gained it’d be nice to share it and help other players.”
If Klopp can turn him from a maybe into a definitely, as far as coaching is concerned, that could help provide the continuity Liverpool need.