Jurgen Klopp’s reputation continues to flourish during a golden era for the Liverpool manager, the German ending the club’s three decade wait for a league title after bringing Champions League success to Merseyside last summer.
Arguably the finest manager in world football at present, Klopp’s success in English football comes after a hugely impressive stint in charge of Borussia Dortmund, halting Bayern Munich’s dominance of the Bundesliga with back-to-back titles and leading the side to the final of Europe’s premier competition.
Klopp’s sides have been built on his trademark ‘gegenpressing’ style and have featured some of the best players in world football in recent years, but which stars would make a dream team compiled of the finest footballers he has managed?
Here is the best XI of players Jurgen Klopp has managed:
Goalkeeper: Alisson – Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp’s first seasons at Liverpool were blighted by inconsistencies in the goalkeeping position, with Loris Karius’ Champions League final capitulation against Real Madrid accelerating the need for a commanding presence as the last line of the defence.
Klopp’s search took him to Italian football and Roma, spending a world-record fee for a goalkeeper to secure the signing of Brazilian international Alisson Becker.
The move proved an inspired decision and instantly strengthened the spine of an ever-improving side, the Samba shot-stopper enhancing his reputation as one of the world’s best with a series of impressive displays.
Alisson’s cool temperament is key to his and his side’s success, providing a sense of calmness and authority to a backline that continues to rack up clean sheets. The 27-year-old won the Premier League’s Golden Glove during his debut season and is the favourite to secure a second successive award this time around.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
The home-grown hero of Klopp’s title-winning Liverpool side, there are perhaps fewer players who will have taken as much satisfaction in ending the club’s long wait for a top-flight crown.
Alexander-Arnold was born a short distance from the Reds’ training ground and has flourished since coming through their academy ranks, establishing himself as arguably the finest attacking full-back in world football and a full England international.
The 21-year-old has altered the perceptions of a previously unpopular role, attacking as Liverpool’s deep-lying playmaker from his right-back position and setting new records for chances created and assists.
Alexander-Arnold is given a licence to attack by the Reds’ workman-like midfield, where his technique and excellent delivery have seen him star amongst the Premier League’s most creative talents. The academy graduate set a new record for assists by a defender with 12 last season, whilst he has already matched that total during the current campaign.
Jamie Carragher once famously quipped that ‘no one wants to be a Gary Neville’, but future generations may just want to be a Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Centre-back: Mats Hummels – Borussia Dortmund
Hummels was the dependable defensive star upon which Borussia Dortmund’s title success was built, forming a strong partnership with the towering Neven Subotic at the heart of the backline.
The Germany international was signed from Bayern Munich and spent eight-and-a-half seasons at the Westfalenstadion, a classy and composed centre-back who thrived both in and out of possession.
Hummels won back-to-back league titles under Klopp and the World Cup with Germany before returning to Bayern Munich, adding a further two Bundesliga crowns to his collection before once again crossing the divide with a second stint at Dortmund.
Perfect positioning and a superb passing range for a central defender, Hummels was comfortably amongst the world’s best at the peak of his powers and a bedrock of Dortmund’s success under Klopp’s guidance.
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
Arguably the most important signing of Jurgen Klopp’s managerial career, the arrival of Virgil van Dijk transformed his Liverpool side from a good team into a great one.
Defensive frailties had hindered a side capable of blowing away opponents with their attacking displays, with Klopp identifying the Southampton centre-back as the man to build his new-look defence around.
It took a world-record fee for a defender of £75m to sign Van Dijk after a protracted chase, though those questioning the club-record outlay were soon proved wrong by a player many regard as the world’s best in his position.
Van Dijk’s first full season saw him help Liverpool to Champions League success and the Premier League’s best defensive record, becoming just the fourth defender in history to win the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and later finishing as runner-up for the Ballon d’Or.
The Netherlands captain seemingly has it all, combining pace and power with leadership and presence, Van Dijk as complete a centre-back as you could wish to sign and a pivotal part of Liverpool’s success.
Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool
From Klopp’s most expensive signing to one of his greatest bargain buys, many were surprised by the club’s capture of Andy Robertson from relegated Hull City.
The young Scot took some time to settle into his new surroundings before quickly becoming a fans’ favourite on Merseyside, his full-blooded commitment and inexhaustible displays on the left-flank instantly endearing him to the Reds’ support.
Robertson’s brings far more than just high-energy displays, however, providing excellent delivery and registering 19 Premier League assists over the past two seasons to date – a tally bettered by only Alexander-Arnold and Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne.
Equally adept defensively and as an attacking threat, Robertson enjoys cult status at Anfield and the tireless star looks set to be a part of the club’s continued search for silverware in the coming seasons.
Midfield: Fabinho – Liverpool
Another vital component of Klopp’s strengthening of the spine at Liverpool, the steely Fabinho arrived less than 48 hours after the club’s defeat to Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League final.
The Brazilian had starred for Monaco and his authority in defensive midfield had attracted the Premier League side, who allowed the midfielder a period of adaptation before his introduction to the starting XI.
Since then Fabinho has starred as one of the best destructive presences in England’s top tier, combining a positional intelligence with physicality and technical prowess as the deepest-lying of Klopp’s preferred midfield three.
Ever willing to receive the ball in difficult situations, he is equally as adept at starting attacking moves as he is preventing them, an authoritative presence in the engine room of the newly crowned Premier League champions.
Midfield: Ilkay Gundogan – Borussia Dortmund
Gundogan signed for Borussia Dortmund from Nuremberg shortly after their first title triumph under Klopp, the German strengthening his Bundesliga champions with the addition of the classy midfielder.
He helped Dortmund secure a domestic double during his debut season at the Westfalenstadion and formed a key part of the side which reached the Champions League final the following season, scoring from the penalty spot in the defeat to Bayern Munich at Wembley.
The Germany international thrives in possession and is central to the rhythm of the game, an intelligent passer who has further showcased his talents following a move to Manchester City four years ago.
Gundogan has won two Premier League titles and a domestic treble since joining Pep Guardiola at the Etihad in 2016, playing a key role for two of the greatest managers of the modern era.
Midfield: Jordan Henderson – Liverpool
There may be more naturally talented players to have played under Jurgen Klopp but we’ve opted for Jordan Henderson in our midfield three, the Liverpool captain stylistically perfect for his manager’s system and possessing a wonderful array of qualities including lung-busting athleticism and a diverse passing range.
Thriving as a box-to-box presence or as a midfield pivot in front of the back four, Klopp has harnessed the best from Henderson’s talents and the England international has played comfortably the best football of his career over the past two seasons, captaining the Reds to Champions League and Premier League success.
Statistics and numbers fail to tell the story of Henderson’s importance to this Liverpool side as his confidence and status has grown, the 30-year-old beginning to command the respect his consistent and driven performances deserve.
Right-wing: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
One part of the most feared front three in world football at present, Mohamed Salah has scored goals with incredible regularity since signing from Roma in the summer of 2017.
The Egyptian international had failed to make an impact during a previous spell in the Premier League with Chelsea, but returned to English football a much improved player following his time in Serie A.
Salah enjoyed one of the finest debut seasons in the division’s history after plundering 44 goals in all competitions, winning the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year alongside the league’s Golden Boot following a record 32 top-flight goals.
Salah secured a second successive Golden Boot as Liverpool finished as runners-up last season, before scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot as the club were crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time by beating Tottenham in the Champions League final.
The electric star has scored 20+ goals in all competitions for the third season running since moving to Merseyside, whilst he is looking to end the Reds’ title-winning season with a third consecutive Golden Boot – a feat only previously achieved by Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.
Left-wing: Sadio Mane – Liverpool
On the opposite flank to Salah is another player who has perhaps reached unexpected heights since arriving at Anfield, Sadio Mane amongst the most exciting attacking talents in world football at present.
The Senegalese star combines lightning pace with a captivating ability to beat players and score goals, drifting in from his position on the left-hand side to devastating effect as part of Liverpool’s famed attacking triumvirate.
A superstar talent with a humble approach to his play, Mane has often proven to be Liverpool’s talisman in times of need, scoring several vital goals and shouldering responsibility during the club’s poorer performances.
His current record stands at 79 goals in 165 appearances since signing from Southampton, his list of honours including a league title, Champions League, Premier League Golden Boot and being named as the African Footballer of the Year for 2019.
Forward: Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund
Roberto Firmino may have been described by Jurgen Klopp as the ‘engine’ of his Liverpool side but there is no leaving out this man, Robert Lewandowski the best centre-forward in world football today.
Lewandowski has scored prolifically in German football since arriving from Lech Poznan a decade ago, spearheading Dortmund’s attack during his four-year spell with the club and winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles.
The Poland international scored a phenomenal 103 goals in just 187 appearances for Dortmund before departing for divisional rivals Bayern Munich on a free transfer, where his game has reached even greater heights during a dominant era for the Bavarian giants.
Lewandowski is now the highest-scoring foreign player in Bundesliga history and the third-highest of all-time, scoring over 40 goals in all competitions for four straight seasons for Bayern including a personal-best haul of 51 so far this season.
His current tally stands at 242 goals in 285 appearances for Germany’s biggest club, Lewandowski amongst the greatest goalscorers of his generation and the current favourite for the 2020 Ballon d’Or.
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