Jurgen Klopp has praised Liverpool’s “incredible” role models for their influence on the atmosphere of his squad, and with his young players.
Perhaps more than ever, Klopp has struck a balance between youth and experience within his ranks this season that has so far ensured an excellent start across three competitions.
But the focus remains on the core of his group, with their top-level quality highlighted once again in midweek as Sadio Mane was named the CAF African Player of the Year, beating Mohamed Salah to the award.
Ahead of Saturday’s clash with Tottenham, Klopp was posed the question of whether the likes of Mane, Andy Robertson and Gini Wijnaldum—signed from Southampton, Hull and Newcastle—have thrived after arriving with a point to prove.
A 58-point haul from Liverpool’s first 20 games in the Premier League this season is testament enough to their quality, but Klopp turned his answer towards the “atmosphere” within his squad, and the role models he can rely on.
“I think the last three years we always had the African Player of the Year,” he said.
“It was now twice Mo Salah in a row, and it was always well-deserved, and this year it was Sadio and it’s well-deserved as well.
“That’s how it is. That’s really nice.
“We all know how the world works, and that gives the club a big boost in that part of the world, 100 percent. That’s good, I love that.
“But these boys, all of them you mention and some others you didn’t mention, first and foremost they are responsible for themselves, for the development they make.
“So they were good players, really good players, before we signed them, that’s the reason that we signed them.
“And we are not this kind of project where we think ‘let’s have a look if it will work’.
“We are convinced in the moment when we bring them in that they can really help us and push the team, or the other player in that position, or whatever.
“So it all worked out, pretty much, so that’s absolutely exceptional.
“But it only works because of the environment, it only works because of the atmosphere the boys create by themselves in the group. That’s really, really good.
“And now for the kids especially, when they come up, the role models they have, they couldn’t be better.
“If it’s as a Scouser, Trent for Curtis, dealing with all these things.
“We all think life is a dream for a football player, but you are here five, six hours a day, then the day has more hours and you go back and you are still a Scouser.
“Everybody is pulling from all sides and wants you to be this kind of representative for all Scousers in the world.
“That’s not easy every second, but as a professional football player, with Millie, with Hendo, with Adam, it’s just incredible.
“So that’s the thing that creates the situation where the young boys can learn what is allowed, what is not allowed, how much can I express myself, how do I express myself and how much do I have to just be a normal guy in the dressing room and all these things.
“That makes the development, and I’m really, really happy that we have these kinds of characters here, because that makes my job massively easier.”