Liverpool’s highly rated first-team development Pepijn Lijnders has left the club with immediate effect, taking over as manager of NEC Nijmegen.
Lijnders joined the Reds as U16s coach in 2014, but was quickly promoted to the role of liaison between academy and first team.
There, he thrived working alongside Jurgen Klopp, and his input has been instrumental in the development of a number of young players including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn.
This ensures his surprise departure is a major blow for Liverpool, with the club confirming on Tuesday morning that Lijnders is taking over at Nijmegen.
NEC are currently second in the Eerste Divisie, the Dutch second tier, and Lijnders will be tasked with leading them to promotion back to the Eredivisie.
Liverpool already had a good relationship with the club having sent striker Taiwo Awoniyi on loan there in 2016, and could do little to stand in Lijnders’ way given his ability as a coach.
Speaking on his departure from Merseyside after three-and-a-half years, Lijnders paid tribute to Brendan Rodgers, Alex Inglethorpe, Michael Beale, Michael Edwards and Mike Gordon.
And for Klopp and his coaching staff, namely Zeljko Buvac, Peter Krawietz and John Achterberg, with whom he worked every day at Melwood, Lijnders clearly held considerably respect.
“This club is so, so lucky to have someone of Jurgen’s calibre leading its football team—he is world-class, truly world-class,” he said.
“And I hope to take many of the great lessons I learned from him, Zeljko Buvac, Peter Krawietz and John Achterberg into my own future leading a side.
“Working with the first-team squad was magical. They confirmed every day that everything starts and ends with passion for the game. With the quality this club already has in the building, only time is against this project.
“You don’t really say goodbye to Liverpool Football Club, because you will always have to represent its honesty and passion wherever you go. It’s a stamp on your back.
“I’m proud of each day that I could represent them directly and I will give my best to do so in my next chapter. Hopefully they will be proud of me as well.”
All the best, Pep.