I don’t think many people could argue with the statement that Liverpool is the best football team in the world right now. The Reds are the reigning Champions League champions and they won the Club World Cup this winter.
They also lead the English Premier League and it seems impossible to catch them. Liverpool already broke a number of records and there are a lot more that could go down by the end of the season.
I think I made my point, so let’s take a look at the main reasons why the team is so good.
I believe most of the credit must go to Jurgen Klopp who transformed the club ever since his arrival in 2015. Here are the steps that the German took to fulfill his goal.
I won’t use a strict chronological order as you all can find the numbers using Google. I prefer to focus on the essentials here, as I feel that Klopp gave us a blueprint on how to build a sublime football team, even if you don’t have all the money in the world.
Establishing a Clear Strategy and Club Culture
If you look at the history of football, you will notice that every winning dynasty has an identity. Whether it’s Inter’s catenaccio, the total football of Ajax or something else, the successful clubs have a clear strategy that is the basis of their triumphs.
Jurgen Klopp has been known for the so-called gegenpressing throughout his career and Liverpool is not an exception. The first goal of the German was to teach his team to press high up the pitch, win the ball early and take full advantage of the chaos in the opponent’s defensive structure.
If you add the strong discipline and the exceptional psychical condition of every player, the groundwork was done.
After less than a year, Liverpool looked similar to the team we have today in terms of style and structure. That wasn’t enough to challenge Manchester City and the best teams in the continent, though.
This brings us to the next couple of points.
Improving the Existing Players
One of the most immediate tasks of every new manager or head coach in football is to improve the existing players. The top English clubs have 25+ squad members at their disposal and the boss is forced to work mostly with the ones he finds at his arrival, at least initially.
You can’t just sell 15 people and buy another 15 new guys to replace them.
Fortunately for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp is one of the best in the world when it comes to developing young players and squeezing the best from more modest members of the team.
I believe that the full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent-Alexander Arnold are the obvious examples. The German manager has helped them become a formidable force and arguably world-class players in their positions.
You can add guys like Wijnaldum, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and more. Klopp has found their most suitable roles in the squad and they have repaid his faith.
After all, you can’t rely on 25 superstars, unless you have the resources of Manchester City or PSG. You need enough peripheral players that will contribute consistently and Liverpool has that.
And since I mentioned stars, it’s time to move on to the next crucial point.
Identifying Weak Areas and Recruiting Top Talent
Liverpool was almost ready to challenge several seasons ago, especially in 2017-2018. Most of the ingredients were there, with the big trio of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Saido Mane tormenting the opposition in both England and Europe.
And yet, the Reds were shipping too many goals. Their defense was suffering and they lacked a good goalkeeper. The biggest evidence of this was the Champions League final against Real Madrid in the same season.
Despite playing better for most of the clash, a huge mistake by the goalkeeper Loris Karius crushed Liverpool’s hopes.
Klopp was quick to address the biggest problems in the team by buying some of the best talent available. The club signed future captain Virgil Van Dijk in January and commandng goalkeeper Alisson Becker in the following summer.
Some had doubts about the transfer fees paid for both players but they have become essential for Liverpool’s backbone since.
The result was obvious and the Reds returned to win the Champions League final in 2018-19. They also pushed Manchester City to the limit in the Premier League and only a historical season by Pep Guardiola and his men prevented them from lifting the trophy.
I don’t think anything can stop them this year and that’s another milestone in Klopp’s resume as a Liverpool manager.
Selling at the Right Price
There’s another factor that a lot of people underestimate. It started even before Jurgen Klopp’s arrival, so I believe the credit here should go to the club as a whole. Liverpool has been forced to sell some of its stars but the team always got a huge price in return.
Raheem Sterling was sold for £50 million in 2015, Suarez for close to £70 million in the summer before that. In more recent times, Liverpool managed to squeeze £105 million from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho.
If you add a couple of smaller transfers that also brought a lot of cash, that’s what financed the arrival of Alisson, Van Dijk, Mo Salah, and other key members of the current squad.
On top of that, most of the players that were moved for insane amounts were either developed in-house or brought early in their careers for peanuts.
That’s a model a lot of other clubs should learn from. Letting your unsettled stars for piles of cash that you can then invest to strengthen in key areas is crucial for your long-term development.
A lot of things had to go right for Klopp to achieve such massive success as a Liverpool manager but that’s always the case with great football teams. The challenge in front of the German would be to maintain a similar level for more than a couple of years.
It seems like a tough task but would someone dare to bet against him at this point?