Liverpool has been on the rise since the arrival of one German manager. The advent of their new-found glory has been heralded as one of the biggest success stories in the English Premier League, with Jurgen Klopp making some drastic changes at the club since his arrival.
However, Liverpool wasn’t the first club where Klopp turned fortunes around, with his time at Borussia Dortmund also being praised for breaking the Bayern domination, albeit only for two seasons.
During his time as a professional manager, Klopp has been known for moulding some of the greatest talents in world football. He was also renowned for making some of the shrewdest transfer deals, including the likes of Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, Nuri Sahin and Ilkay Gundogan. Listed below are five of Klopp’s best signings over the tenure of his time as a professional manager.
Virgil van Dijk
The money from the sale of Philippe Coutinho brought in not one, but two stars for Jurgen Klopp - Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk. However, only one of them makes it to this list after van Dijk cemented his name as one of the meanest defenders of the division over the last few seasons. He arrived at the Kop on New Year’s Day in 2018, marking the rise of a new era in the history books of Liverpool.
Having joined Southampton from Scottish giants Celtic in 2015, van Dijk established himself as one of the best in the league while at the Saints. After moving to the Merseyside, the Dutchman played every single match of the 2018-19 season, making 199 clearances and conceding just 22 goals as Liverpool went on to lose just one match that season.
His strong show helped him win the Player of the Season as well as the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and UEFA Defender of the year awards in the same year. He also finished runner-up to Lionel Messi in the Ballon d'Or rankings, in just his second full season at Anfield.
Marco Reus is one of the most legendary players to have played for Borussia Dortmund, having rejected moves to many top clubs during his eight-season tenure at the Westfalenstadion. Having plied his trade at their youth academy, Reus moved to Borussia Monchengladbach for three seasons before making a return under the stewardship of Jurgen Klopp, making him one of the German’s most successful January transfers.
The arrival of Reus excited the club and its fans alike, especially because of the fact that the German machine chose Dortmund over Bayern Munich. In his debut season back at the club, Reus bagged 19 goals in 49 appearances across all competitions. He was also a key member of the Dortmund side that went on to reach the Champions League final the same season, beating Ajax, Malaga and Real Madrid on the way.
Although injuries have marred his career constantly, when fit, Reus has been an automatic choice not only for Klopp, but also for every coach at Dortmund after him. He has made 182 appearances over eight seasons, scoring 91 goals for the BVB.
The rise to prominence of Mohamed Salah is a well-documented affair. His first tryst in English Football came with Chelsea, but his performances weren’t enough to impress then head coach Jose Mourinho. He left the club on loan to play in Italy, joining Roma on a permanent deal during the 2016-17 season.
After shining for Roma over two seasons, scoring 29 goals in 65 matches, Salah made a return to the Kop for a club-record 50 million euros. His debut season marked the beginning of a new era for the Reds, breaking the record for the most goals scored (32) in a 38-game Premier League season. He hasn’t been able to replicate the same form as his first season, but his strong form has helped guide Liverpool to two Champions League finals, winning the 2018-19 Champions League as well as the FIFA Club World Cup.
Prior to the suspension of the league, his 91 goals in 144 appearances with the Reds has silenced all doubters about his time at the Merseyside.
The final Liverpool player on this list, Sadio Mane makes it to this list ahead of another masterclass signing Andrew Robertson, who was brought in for a meagre eight million and has registered himself as one of the best left-backs in the league, with 27 assists in 143 appearances at the Merseyside.
The Senegalese forward was Klopp’s first big signing at Liverpool, after impressing for two seasons at Southampton, scoring 21 league goals in 67 appearances. His arrival was marked by a stunning debut goal at Arsenal, and Mane ended his first season at Anfield with 13 Premier League goals whilst being named the club’s Player of the Year.
The 2018/19 season was his best on English shores, where he scored 22 league goals, earning him the joint Golden Boot award while being named in the PFA Team of the Year for the second time in his three seasons at Anfield.
Klopp has a knack for identifying true talent, like the addition of Andrew Robertson, as mentioned above. However, one player who owes his magnificent career to Jurgen Klopp is current Bayern star Robert Lewandowski, who was brought in for a measly 3.33 million from Lech Poznan.
Almost close to joining Blackburn Rovers two years prior, the Polish Striker was used regularly as a backup to Lucas Barrios in his debut season, scoring nine goals in 43 appearances in all competitions, while winning the Bundesliga as a bit-part player.
In his second season in Germany, he took advantage of an injury suffered by Barrios and made the forward position his own, leading Dortmund to the Bundesliga as well as the DFB-Pokal trophy. While missing out on making it three Bundesliga trophies in a row, the Polish star led Dortmund to the final of the Champions League, losing to Bayern Munich. He won the first of his many Bundesliga top-scorer awards in his final season at Dortmund, finishing the season with 20 goals in 33 appearances in the Bundesliga before moving to bitter rivals Bayern Munich on a free.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Paul Ellis
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