Midfielder Adam Lallana has an important role to play on and off the field for Liverpool as he has emerged as one of Jurgen Klopp‘s leaders.
The England international’s form this season saw him rewarded with a new £110,000-a-week three-year contract on Wednesday as he enjoys his best season since arriving at the club in the summer of 2014.
Lallana has been transformed by the German after his displays under predecessor Brendan Rodgers left many questioning whether the £25 million fee paid to Southampton was really worth it.
But while he has been undoubtedly influential on the pitch it is what he offers the side in addition to his playing skills which has made him a key component of Klopp’s plans for the future.
“For me it was clear we had to try everything to keep a player like him. He is a very important player for us,” said the Reds boss.
“I heard when I came in what a lot of people said about him before I came in but I actually only knew him from Southampton.
“Since I’ve been here he has been a really important player for all our development steps which we made—not only for him personally.
“I have a lot of time together with the players but I am not in the dressing room so you need to have players there too and he is one of them.”
Lallana’s new contract also has the option of a further 12-month extension which would take him up to the age of 33.
That length of deal for a player who turns 29 in May also raised a few eyebrows but Klopp has no concerns about keeping older players around the squad.
“He is really a good guy and a perfect age to deliver and get consistency in his performances,” he said.
“I know in the world of football people say when you are 28, ‘why do you want to give a new contract’ but you need this mixture of different styles of players, different age groups.”
Another player who appears to be starting to peak under Klopp is Georginio Wijnaldum, a summer arrival from Newcastle.
He too came under scrutiny following his £25 million move after some inconsistent displays but in recent weeks—he was particularly influential last time out in the win over Tottenham—has put in some performances which suggest he will more than justify the outlay.
“He was good, very good. Maybe it was the best performance but I don’t compare,” Klopp said of the Holland international ahead of Monday’s trip to Leicester.
“It was a good game from him but it was not that simple and we need him [to do it] again.
“Sometimes the players are able to do it, sometimes not. If they are not able and their attitude is still good then I need to find the right reasons.”
Wijnaldum sustained a calf problem in training in the week but it is not expected to keep him out of the side at the King Power Stadium.
However, centre-back Dejan Lovren remains a doubt having missed the last two matches with a knee problem.
The Croatia international flew to Germany to see a specialist this week but Klopp insists there are no long-term worries regarding the injury.
“If it would have been completely simple it would not have taken this long time,” he added.
“In the end we could not find the 100 percent clue so we sent him to a specialist who found a few things, not directly in the knee where he had the pain.
“The knee is fine but the pain was there. They sorted these things around [it] and when I spoke to him he told me he felt really well when he was running outside.
“He will be very, very close—tight—for the Leicester game, but having him back in training is of course good for us.”