Since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival in Liverpool, the city has erupted with hope and excitement as the German boss has inspired his team to some great performances. There have been ups and downs under Klopp but it’s clear what the former Borussia Dortmund man can bring to Anfield. As well as constant rumours surrounding incoming transfers from the Bundesliga, Liverpool fans have had a few things to cheer about at home already this season including a cup final and a European victory over Manchester United. The most encouraging signs though are the improvements some of Liverpool’s players have already made under Jurgen Klopp and it appears the boss could be the best man to motivate his team to their full potential. Here are just three players who seem to have risen to new heights under Klopp.
One of the most exciting talents to emerge under Jurgen Klopp is Divock Origi. Fans of the Beligum attacker have always backed the youngster to do well and when Liverpool announced his signing in July 2014, it was with great expectation he came to England after a disappointing final season on loan at Lille. His performances in the French league and in European competition attracted many top clubs and despite a struggle with form before his Anfield arrival, it was clear the talent he possessed.
However, under Brendan Rodgers, his struggles continued and he only made four appearances. He then picked up a knee injury in December, shortly after Klopp’s arrival which further hampered his Anfield career. Even when given the chance to impress, Rodgers opted to play Origi in a supporting role or as a winger rather than a centre-forward and only one of the Belgium man’s opportunities came in the Premier League as he was utilised most in the Europa League. It was then a relief for the striker when a European boss was brought in and although he didn’t really start to make his mark until February, he showed signs of promise before his injury at the end of December.
Since Klopp’s arrived, Origi has bounced back from injury to make a great comeback to his Liverpool career. The forward has made 22 appearances under Klopp, including ten starts in the centre-forward role. It seems to have paid off as he’s added two league goals to his account, as well as another two assists. With Danny Ings still out injured, Origi has managed to force his way into the starting line-up quite regularly and Klopp has often chosen to start the 20 year-old ahead of Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke. His inclusion in the recent Europa League clashes against Manchester United and involvement in the Capital One Cup final was testament of how far Origi has come under Klopp and was a sign of the faith and responsibility his boss was happy to put on the youngsters shoulders.
If there was any player Liverpool fans wanted to see succeed, it was Roberto Firmino. Doubts about his ability were heard loud and clear across the media and amongst opposition fans who mocked Liverpool for their excitement at the transfer of the Brazilian from Hoffenheim. There were hopes of Firmino, Coutinho and Sturridge producing a collaboration which would emulate the Premier League’s closest impersonation of Barcelona’s terrific three. However, it took a while for the Brazilian to get into his stride and it was clear he struggled in a confused system under Brendan Rodgers which lacked identity.
Liverpool fans had to wait until November to see Firmino score his first goal, but it came in the 3-0 victory over Manchester City and the fans were able to celebrate not one, but two Brazilian goals as Firmino set-up the first, Coutinho scored the second and Firmino netted the third. Under Jurgen Klopp, Firmino has made 31 appearances and has taken his goal tally up to 9 goals – an achievement which saw him named as February’s PFA Fan’s Player of the Month and has seen him become Liverpool’s top goal-scorer so far this season. Both Firmino and Coutinho have found themselves involved with the national set-up throughout the season and the number 11 is doing all the right things at Liverpool to cement his name in the Brazilian squad.
Undoubtedly the most impressive feature of Klopp’s managerial campaign thus far, has been the improvement of Dejan Lovren who’s Liverpool career seemed to have collapsed completely. The former Southampton centre-half was brought in the summer of 2014 for £20m and his debut season under Rodgers could only be described as a complete failure. He was ridiculed by fans and despite Rodgers’ showing prolonged faith in his defender, Lovren was unable to pick up any kind of form and Liverpool’s defensive problems were obvious for all to see.
Since Klopp’s arrival in October, Lovren has had to fight his way back into the starting line-up and it wasn’t easy given the strong performances of Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure. However, in the last six games, Lovren has played 495 minutes of football for Liverpool, starting on five occasions, including games against Manchester United and Manchester City. His performances of late have widely been praised and it’s clear he’s beginning to build a consistent partnership with Kop favourite, Sakho, in central defence. His substitution during Liverpool’s loss at Southampton, caused controversy as his replacement, Martin Skrtel made a number of mistakes and the Reds threw away a 2-0 lead at half-time.
The defender still has work to do to prove some of his stubborn doubters wrong, but he’s certainly on track to do so and if he can continue to build a partnership with Mamadou Sakho, Liverpool can have confidence in their defence again. One thing that can be said is that Lovren seems to finally be enjoying life in Merseyside and Klopp should take some responsibility for that.