Liverpool might experience a significant improvement next season thanks to Jurgen Klopp’s underappreciated ability to develop strikers.
The ability to develop strikers is one of Jurgen Klopp’s many tools as one of the top managers in the modern game, and it is underappreciated.
Klopp has aided a number of attack-minded players to flourish enough to become some of the most feared frontmen on the planet over the course of his illustrious tenures at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.
For instance, Robert Lewandowski was a complete unknown when he arrived at Dortmund in the summer of 2010 after securing a modest €4.5m transfer from Lech Poznan in his native Poland. There is a well-known story about the current Barcelona star missing out on a possible transfer to Blackburn Rovers at the time because of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull eruption, which grounded most flights to and from northern Europe in April of that year.
Lewandowski, on the other hand, joined Klopp’s Dortmund and scored 103 goals in 187 games, helping BVB win two Bundesliga championships, a German cup, and a runners-up spot in the Champions League. But initially, the Pole had a hard time adjusting to life in Germany’s top division. Lewandowski credits a late-night conversation with Klopp after a 3-0 Champions League loss to Marseille in September 2011 for helping him develop into one of the most complete strikers of the modern era.
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Lewandowski told ESPN, “I think that one situation changed my career. “It was my first season at Dortmund, or perhaps the start of my second season. I didn’t score as many goals because I wasn’t in good form. I had no idea what Jurgen expected of me. I spoke to him directly following a game that we lost. The hotel’s time was probably midnight. “I want to speak with you because I don’t know what you want from me or what you expect from me,” I said. ‘.
“And this conversation was like, I thought maybe we’re going to talk for five minutes or ten minutes, but we were talking for about an hour and a half. The fact that I was talking to him—possibly like a father—was the most crucial aspect. And because I lost my father when I was 16 years old, I missed him. Maybe ever since, I haven’t been able to speak with someone in that way.
“We were playing in the Bundesliga three days later, and remember you cannot change anything in training because you don’t have time, and I scored a hat trick and had one assist, and we won 4-0. That was, I believe, Augsburg. I realized at that precise moment how crucial mindset and what you have in your head are because I made no changes. However, I experienced a certain amount of freedom and mental clarity. Everything then changed. ”.
Lewandowski left Dortmund in 2014 to join Bayern Munich, where he scored 344 goals in 375 matches and added eight more Bundesliga championships, three DFB-Pokals, and the 2020 Champions League to his resume.
Lewandowski told the Daily Mail, “He was the one who gave me faith. “We would play this game, him versus the striker, during the first three or four months of training. Me and him would wager on something. It was €50 a game, and by the end I had a positive balance, but I saw for the first time with him how important it was to train. In the first few training sessions, he was always winning. After that, not so much. Every time after, he lost. He didn’t want to play.
“I observed what must be done on the field when I am without the ball. Right now, you can observe Liverpool’s pressing style of play. He taught me that, I suppose. He helped me finish stronger as well. It wasn’t that great when I first arrived in Dortmund. To get better, he advised me. He explained my obligations to me. “.
Lewandowski elaborated on the “genius” of his former employer in a Players’ Tribune article from January 2021, saying: “Jurgen was not only a father figure to me. He was like the “bad” teacher as a coach. In the truest sense of the word, I do.
“Let me elaborate. Recall your schooldays by going back in time. Not the one who made your life simple and never demanded anything of you, but the teacher who you remember the most. Absolutely not. You can still picture the unpleasant instructor who was harsh with you. the person who put you under pressure and tried everything to bring out your best. Jurgen was like that, you know, the teacher who helped you get better.
Jurgen wanted A+ students; he was not content to let you be a B student. Not for him, that is. For you, he wanted it. He has given me so much knowledge. As soon as I got to Dortmund, I wanted to move quickly—strong passes, one touch only. Jurgen taught me to remain calm and, if necessary, accept two touches.
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It was completely out of character for me, but soon I started to score more goals. He challenged me to speed it up again once I had that down. Just a touch. BANG. Goal. He made me go slower so that I could go faster. It seems straightforward, but it was really brilliant. ”.
Lewandowski’s potential was largely unlocked by his mental approach to the game, but Klopp’s tactical adjustments with Mohamed Salah have helped the Egyptian emerge as one of Liverpool’s all-time greatest players. As he reached the age of 30 for the fourth time in six seasons after joining Liverpool in 2017 from Roma, his game-winning goal against Brentford on Saturday moved him into joint fifth place with Steven Gerrard on the club’s all-time scoring list.
Salah discussed how Klopp and his coaching staff had changed his game during his first season with the Reds, which ultimately led to him scoring 44 goals during his first season at Anfield.
Salah said at the time, “I play a little bit closer to the goal with the boss here, more so than at any other club or more so than any of my other coaches have asked me to.”. “In order to give myself the best chance to score, I always stand in front of the goal. In training, I’m constantly being urged by the manager to keep my distance from the objective. We still have a long way to go in the season, so I don’t want to give anything away by revealing too much. However, we have made progress in this area during the training sessions. “.
After almost seven years since his arrival, Salah’s most recent contract, signed last summer, makes him the highest-paid player in Liverpool history. The 30-year-old is without a doubt one of the best frontmen to have played at Anfield.
The Gabonese international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was one of the brightest stars of African football before he was forced to live as an elite nomad at Barcelona and Chelsea. He made his name playing for Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp before settling in at Arsenal.
Aubameyang, who was acquired from Saint-Etienne in 2013, scored 98 league goals in 144 games before being acquired by Arsenal for a record-breaking £56 million in January 2018. He was another who was effusive in his praise for the way his former coach helped him grow.
Aubameyang told France Football, “Klopp brought me a lot.”. He helped me develop my fortitude and defense mechanisms. His presence in my life for those two years helped me advance significantly. I have a lot of respect for this man because he is charismatic.
“Whenever things weren’t going well or well, he would frequently ask me to accompany him and talk about things. It’s beneficial to have a coach who can communicate with you, express his thoughts, and give you advice. “.
With their combined 229 goals at Anfield, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino helped the Reds win every major trophy available from 2019 to 2022. Klopp is also the manager who made them household names in European football.
Due to Klopp’s most recent investments, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, having such a distinguished history of developing center-forwards, there should be cause for optimism. With a total return of 21 between them so far in all competitions, Liverpool spent an initial fee of £101 million on the pair over the course of the last two transfer windows.
The goal of transforming a player who has played primarily as a left-sided forward into a more central operator will be significantly increased over the course of a crucial preseason at Liverpool. Gakpo has impressed recently with his close control, strength, and pace. In Klopp’s three-pronged attack, he is poised to replace Firmino as the “new Firmino.”.
The former PSV Eindhoven star is getting better every week and has demonstrated enough for fans to be anticipating what he will be able to produce over the course of a full season with the benefit of a summer schedule in the tank.
Even though there have been times when touches have been sloppy and the finishing has been ragged, Nunez has had a more than respectable first season in England with 15 goals across all competitions. Given his goal totals during previous stints with Almeria and Benfica, the Uruguayan international has plenty of evidence to suggest that he will truly soar next season.
Nunez only scored six goals in his first season with the Eagles after tallying 16 goals in 30 games while playing for Spain, which helped him land a transfer to one of the biggest clubs in Portuguese football. The biggest clubs in Europe sat up and took notice after that, and before Liverpool won the race, there were as many as 26 in just 28 appearances the previous season.
Similar to those who have succeeded under Klopp’s guidance in the past, Nunez will need to work on a variety of tactical and mental skills to become a superstar. Recently, Klopp urged the South American to enhance both his English language skills and his defensive tenacity when not in possession. One to be excited about, though still a work in progress.
There is much to be worked on this summer on the training fields for Gakpo and Nunez, but Klopp, as demonstrated by those who have come before them, is the right manager to unlock all of that potential.