The Reds boss admits the progress made by a buccaneering full-back has impressed him, but the challenge is to keep everyone grounded at Anfield
Jurgen Klopp considers Trent Alexander-Arnold to be “a machine”, with the Liverpool boss admitting that the progress made by the 21-year-old full-back has been his biggest surprise at Anfield.
The highly-rated academy graduate was handed his senior bow by the Reds in October 2016 – a year after Klopp had succeeded Brendan Rodgers in the job.
Alexander-Arnold was eased into first-team life, but is now an established member of an ambitious Liverpool squad and improving England team.
He is considered to be the definition of what a modern day right-back should be, with his ability to get up and down the flank marking him out as a useful asset for club and country.
A healthy number of assists have been contributed by a player who continues to go from strength to strength, with Klopp conceding that he did not expect his learning curve to be quite so dramatic.
Asked by BBC Sport to pick out his biggest surprise at Liverpool, the German tactician said: “I have known Trent Alexander-Arnold since he was 17 years old.
“He was a big talent but we were not sure he could do it physically. Now he is a machine – so he is a big surprise.”
The likes of Alexander-Arnold are now Champions League winners and Premier League title hopefuls, with it up to Klopp to ensure that everybody stays grounded and focused on achieving even more.
Quizzed on how he has gone about that since conquering Europe, the Reds boss said: “The conscious decision we made with the boys was, as Liverpool players, it was not about winning one thing. It is about winning and there is no limit.
“The moment we did it was important – but it did not give us a feeling it was done.
“We like to think we would meet up in 20 to 30 years, look back and mix up the years. Was it 2019 or 2020?
“So far, so good. We try to squeeze everything we can get from our time together. There is no pressure, it is just opportunity.”
Klopp also has difficult decisions to make when it comes to freshening up his ranks, with a need to ensure that transfer windows are maximised in an effort to avoid things going stale.
“All my former players have my number and we stay in contact,” Klopp said when asked how he manages change.
“I support them still, apart from the moment we play each other. If we win 5-1 I would prefer my former player scores the one. It is like a family and friends forever.
“When I was a very young manager [at Mainz] and I knew my players did not earn very much, I had to tell some of my best friends they would not get another contract and I did not know which way it would go for them.
“Now it is a different level and I do not put the players on the streets, they will find another club.
“I do not push them in a dark room and leave them there. The future is still bright for them, and sometimes it is not the right place in our team any more.
“It is being completely honest in these moments, it is not that I enjoy it. Everything has its time and it’s the same with a contract as well. I have never kept a player because I like him so much.”