Klopp has been consistent in his stance that ability is more important than age, with an open door for youth to break into his first team.
Alexander-Arnold has clearly found the most success with this at Liverpool, with the 20-year-old set to play in his second Champions League final in June and pass the 100-game mark next season.
The manager has also looked to bring the best young players into the club, with the Reds among the sides actively pursuing Mbappe before he made his £166 million move from Monaco to PSG in 2017.
Those operating in the club’s academy may do so on a more modest level than the France striker, but Klopp is blessed with a host of talents at his disposal at Kirkby.
Speaking to Unisport, the 51-year-old explained what is required for youngsters to make it at a club like Liverpool.
“I saw in the last couple of years a lot of talented boys,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable how early it starts, 14, 15, 16, you see them already.
“The boys I see, they all have talent. I don’t see all of them [at the academy], I only see the icing of the cake.
“You ask me what a player needs to have when he’s young: talent, and an obvious football character. You can see that easily. How he is involved in the game and all that stuff.
“When you are ‘strange’ at 16, it’s pretty likely you are much more strange when you are 25.
“So here, not nice and humble, just a normal football player with extraordinary skills.
“For example I saw Kylian Mbappe when he was 16, everybody knew: ‘Yeah, wow, that will be absolutely amazing’.
“He’s a nice kid and a world-class player, so he’s a good example for that generation.”
Klopp went on the detail how every young player needs to have a defining attribute, which could even be a “long throw-in,” but added that there is “not one special thing” he looks for.
And the manager stressed the importance of “patience” in dealing with setbacks in their rise, and how expectations are created from the outside that can be undermined by “nature” slowing their development.
This can arguably be seen with Ben Woodburn, who broke through to considerable scrutiny at Liverpool but has struggled to impose himself over the past two seasons.
“We try to be different in that way, we try to give our boys the time,” he continued.
“But sometimes the boys don’t want to have that much time and want to already be a bit earlier somewhere else, and you cannot change that.
“Trent Alexander-Arnold is the perfect example, perfect. From day one he did everything like he should have done.
“By being himself, not by listening to us, ‘what do I have to do’, no it was clear for him: ‘I have to learn, so I will learn, do my very best and there will come the day when I play’.
“Today, when he’s not playing, he’s not looking at me thinking ‘why not?’.
“He knows I thought about it, so he doesn’t have to think about it: he doesn’t play because he plays the next game or whatever.
“That’s pretty smart from him, to be honest.”
Klopp concluded that “to have a long career you have to be a serious person,” which highlights the fine margins between being a talented young player and one able to establish himself at Liverpool.
The Reds take on Spurs in Madrid on June 1, almost three weeks after the final game of their Premier League campaign, which gives plenty of time to renew their focus.
Klopp allowed his players a much-needed week off following the 2-0 win over Wolves at Anfield, before reconvening for the first of their media obligations at Melwood.
Liverpool then confirmed the 26 to depart for Spain for the rest of the week, with Naby Keita among those included despite still recovering from an adductor injury which likely rules him out for the final.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also made the flight after returning from a minor setback to come off the bench in the domestic closer, and documented the trip on Instagram.
You alright there, Mo Salah? ?
(via alexoxchamberlain/instagram) pic.twitter.com/tnJDWU415v
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) 20 May 2019
Salah had clearly recovered by the time the flight arrived on the Costa del Sol, as the club released a video package of Klopp and his players heading into the hotel.
Van Dijk took inspiration from Conor McGregor as he walked past the cameras alongside Joe Gomez, with this trip to Spain as much about the morale of the squad as it is warm-weather training:
Oxlade-Chamberlain wrote that he is “looking forward to a good week’s training and continuing the preparations for the big one” as he was pictured arriving with Wijnaldum:
James Milner is “ready for some hard work” as he gears up for another major final in a long and decorated career, while Salah simply shared a photo of his arrival:
Wijnaldum opted for a photo from Liverpool’s Champions League roll call earlier in the day, writing that he is “looking forward to a week of hard training” before doing “everything we can to cap off this season with the trophy it deserves”:
The Reds are in a great position to bring home No. 6, after a phenomenal campaign that saw them record their best-ever points tally in the league and only finish one behind champions Man City.
This week could prove crucial as Klopp plots to overturn Spurs and win his first piece of silverware as Liverpool manager.
Liverpool are claimed to be among the clubs aiming to sign Werder Bremen striker Max Kruse on a free transfer this summer, which would suit Jurgen Klopp.
Neither hold down a key role under Klopp, but regardless have proved important squad players throughout the manager’s tenure at the club.
A potential deal for Lloyd Kelly broke down as the 20-year-old joined Bournemouth for £13 million, leaving Klopp to weigh up his options for an alternative for Moreno.
But few candidates have been mooted to fill Sturridge’s shoes, as the striker prepares to leave Anfield permanently after six-and-a-half years.
According to German outlet Sport1, however, Liverpool are interested in Kruse, who has confirmed his intention of leaving Werder on the expiry of his contract in order to “search for a new challenge.”
It is reported that, along with Bayern Munich—who are considering the 31-year-old as a possible backup for Robert Lewandowski—the Reds are “talking to” Kruse regarding a deal.
The Werder captain has direct criteria to fill in choosing his new club, with “[ambitions], coaches [and] city” all said to be central to his decision.
Sport1 stress that “for Kruse the whole package has to be right,” however they also add that he is seeking a contract “in the higher single-digit million range.”
Losing Sturridge, who remains one of the club’s highest earners, would free up a significant portion of the club’s wage bill, though Kruse’s demands remain to be seen.
A contract worth upwards of £100,000 a week, as suggested, could be considered out of the question for Liverpool, particularly if the Germany international is to serve as backup to Roberto Firmino.
But if a more sensible salary can be agreed, Kruse would provide Klopp with an ideal addition to his forwards ranks.
At 31, he may not fit the bill in terms of typical Liverpool signings, but as Sport1 explain he is “not a typical centre-forward,” rather one who is able to drop deep, create and press as well as lead the line.
Kruse scored 12 goals and laid on 14 assists in 36 games in 2018/19, and he would make an excellent impact player given his experience.
Klopp is certainly aware of Kruse’s talents, explaining in an interview in DAZN in April that Werder were among the six clubs enjoys watching the most—along with Borussia Dortmund, Mainz, Man City, Tottenham and Barcelona.
It was an impressive campaign for the Liverpool academy on many fronts, but who stood out most for the Reds’ under-23s and under-18s in 2018/19?
Along with a pair of friendlies against Club Brugge and a squad climb of Snowdon in aid of the Stephen Darby Foundation, the youngsters will also take part in the Terborg Tournament in the Netherlands.
But while these serve as vital preparation for the future, particularly against sides in Europe, a line can now be drawn under the 2018/19 campaign.
For the U18s, it proved to be a hugely successful one, as evidenced by the FA Youth Cup in the trophy cabinet at Kirkby, along with a second-placed finish in the U18 Premier League.
Critchley’s U23s were left to settle for fourth in Premier League 2’s Division 1, though, and the under-19s dropped out of the UEFA Youth League at the last-16 stage.
So what can we make of a mixed campaign for the club’s youth sides on the whole?
Here, we count down the 10 best Liverpool academy players in 2018/19.10. George Johnston
Starts (Sub): 30 (0)
Johnston’s season started with a dream outing for the first team in the pre-season friendly against Torino at Anfield, and he has built on this with a fine campaign.
The Scotland youth international missed just one game for the U23s—the 7-0 loss to Villarreal in November—and shone despite operating alongside a revolving-door group of centre-backs.
His no-nonsense approach and finesse on the ball gave Critchley a strong backbone in defence, and Johnston has grown wearing the captain’s armband.9. Adam Lewis
Starts (Sub): 32 (2)
Considered a potential candidate to replace Alberto Moreno next season, Lewis stepped up to a senior role among a relatively youthful U23s squad and excelled.
Largely fielded at left-back, the 19-year-old showcased his versatility by turning out in midfield and on both flanks too, which should interest Klopp.
Eight assists make him the sixth-most creative player in the academy this season, but Lewis’ highlight was a stunning free-kick against Red Star in November—after rightly demanding ball from Rafa Camacho.8. Vitezslav Jaros
Starts (Sub): 28 (0)
Clean Sheets: 10
Klopp called Czech goalkeeper Jaros into his squad for first-team training in January, with his inclusion recognition of an excellent second season at Liverpool.
The multi-lingual 17-year-old has gone from strength to strength as a key player for Lewtas’ U18s and U19s, and kept more clean sheets than any other Reds academy stopper in 2018/19.
It could be that Jaros, who boasts great reflexes, speed off his line and a strong command of his penalty area, takes over as first choice for the U23s next term.7. Yasser Larouci
Starts (Sub): 30 (4)
Lewtas made a savvy decision in converting Larouci from a goal-focused winger to a more well-rounded role at left-back, and it has paid off hugely.
The Algerian benefited from Lewis’ promotion to the U23s and made the starting role his own, and quickly took to his new position, with only three players making more starts for the U18s.
His brilliant outside-of-the-boot strike for the U23s against Hertha Berlin in December was perhaps the best moment of his season, but Larouci’s overall development is the main positive.6. Jake Cain
Position: Attacking midfielder
Starts (Sub): 28 (2)
Only Bobby Duncan laid on more assists for Liverpool’s academy sides in 2018/19 than Cain, who made the permanent step up from under-16s to U18s look easy.
Familiar with Lewtas’ techniques, the 17-year-old slotted in comfortably from the first game of the season, and his excellent range of passing and eye for a through ball made the young Reds a constant threat.
The Wigan-born midfielder should now aim to add more goals to his game next season, which could be a significant one as he continues his progress.5. Leighton Clarkson
Position: Central midfielder
Starts (Sub): 27 (8)
Arguably the sleeper hit of the Reds’ academy this season, Clarkson forced his way into Lewtas’ starting lineup early into the campaign and stayed there.
Though able to operate in a variety of roles across the midfield, the teenager was at his best at the base of the midfield, with his long-range passing particularly impressive.
Clarkson showcased his ability from set-pieces throughout, too, most notably with a brilliant free-kick in the 4-3 Merseyside derby victory over Everton in November.4. Rhys Williams
Starts (Sub): 37 (3)
Like Johnston with the U23s, Williams provided Lewtas with his defensive foundation at U18 and U19 level, drawing comparisons with Virgil van Dijk not merely due to his lofty frame.
Williams is dominant in the air, strong in the tackle, a constructive leader at the back and a composed passer of the ball both long and short.
And similar to Van Dijk, the 18-year-old also made his mark at the other end of the pitch this season, with his 10 direct goal contributions the 10th-most in the academy.3. Rafa Camacho
Starts (Sub): 22 (0)
Ongoing speculation over his future aside, this was a remarkable campaign for Camacho given the numbers he was able to produce.
As an 18-year-old regularly training away from his academy team-mates, the Portuguese was still able to score 12 and assist 12 in his 22 games for the U23s and U19s.
He was top scorer and assist-maker for both age groups, adding to the accomplishment of a first start and Premier League debut for the seniors in January.2. Bobby Duncan
Starts (Sub): 33 (10)
Duncan spent the majority of last season on the sidelines at Man City, forced out of action due to a dispute with his then-club as he set his sights on a free transfer to Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard’s cousin certainly made up for lost time in his maiden campaign at his boyhood club, making the most appearances and scoring and creating the most goals of any academy player.
His predatory instinct in the penalty area gave Lewtas’ U18s side a cutting edge, and it would be no surprise to see him move up to the U23s on a permanent basis next season.1. Paul Glatzel
Starts (Sub): 29 (5)
It seems ridiculous to rank a striker who produced 30 goals and 16 assists in 43 games anywhere below No. 1 in this list, but Glatzel edges Duncan here.
The German-English forward overcame a series of frustrating injuries to take the armband for the U18s, and netted just one fewer goal than his strike partner despite playing nine fewer games.
Glatzel’s all-round game—his movement, his pressing, his close control and his creativity—made him the focal point of Lewtas’ side.
Liverpool have a real star of the future on their hands in the 18-year-old.
We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Monday, as the Reds fly out to Marbella for their pre-Champions League final training camp.
Marko Grujic has shone on loan at Hertha Berlin this season, proving to be one of the Bundesliga’s most influential midfielders.
The Serb could potentially return to Liverpool this summer, although it looks increasingly as though another 12 months at Hertha would benefit all parties.
Speaking to Kicker, the German club’s general manager, Michael Preetz, says the aim is to retain Grujic’s services:
“We have a permanent exchange with Liverpool FC and have had some personal talks with Jurgen Klopp over the past week with Marko.
“Liverpool will sit down after the Champions League final to discuss the squad for the next season and we think Marko would do well for another season in Berlin to reach the level that Liverpool play Marko himself would like to stay in.
“I cannot promise anything – only that I will try everything that the boy plays next year in Berlin.”
Grujic will be keen to be a regular, but Klopp could persuade him he can get playing time replacing someone such as Adam Lallana in the Reds’ squad.Brandt Set For Dortmund Move
Julian Brandt has been on Liverpool’s radar for a few years now, having initially been a target in 2017 before Mohamed Salah was signed instead.
The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder has again been linked with a move to the Reds in recent weeks, but it looks as though his next destination will be to Klopp’s former club, not current one.
Bild claim that Brandt is on the verge of joining Borussia Dortmund, with the Bundesliga runners-up seeing him as someone who can add depth and quality in the absence of Chelsea-bound Christian Pulisic.
Brandt would have been perfect in Jurgen Klopp‘s system, with his versatility allowing him to play out wide or centrally.
Liverpool now look like they will have to focus on other options instead.Brewitt Helps Fylde Win Trophy
It’s always nice to hear about former Liverpool youngsters thriving and that certainly applies to Tom Brewitt, who clinched FA Trophy glory with AFC Fylde at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.
The National League side, who missed out on promotion to the Football League after losing in the playoffs, defeated Leyton Orient 1-0 at the national stadium.
Brewitt was introduced as a substitute with just 12 minutes played, following an early injury to defender Neill Byrne.
The 22-year-old moved from Liverpool to Middlesbrough in the summer of 2017, before joining Fylde the following year.Twelve Subs in Champions League Final
Club football’s biggest game is edging even closer, with the Premier League pair locking horns at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on June 1.
Liverpool’s squad can be up to 23 players in Madrid, meaning the number of subs has increased to 12 from the original seven.
Just imagine…No De Ligt interest
Spanish football reporter Guillem Balague had claimed over the weekend that Liverpool were in contention to sign coveted Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, but such interest has been well and truly scuppered on Monday.
Both the Echo‘s James Pearce and the Standard‘s David Lynch have stated Liverpool have no intention to sign the impressive 19-year-old.
Klopp is said to be happy with his centre-back options, which presumably means Dejan Lovren is happy to remain at the club despite now being fourth choice and turning 30 this summer.
More understandably, it is claimed Klopp wants a versatile defender who can play left-back, to replace Alberto Moreno.
You might want to hope that such a new defensive signing can also cover at right-back as more depth is required there if Joe Gomez is going to be centre-back and right-back cover again.
Liverpool had considered a deal to sign English left-back Lloyd Kelly from Bristol City, but pulled out ahead of his £13 million switch to Bournemouth.
The Reds were widely reported to be scouting the 20-year-old ahead of Alberto Moreno‘s departure on the expiry of his contract this summer, but a move didn’t materialise.
Instead, Bournemouth announced Kelly as their first signing of the summer on Saturday, with the Bristolian agreeing a long-term deal with the south-coast side.
This could have been met with confusion by Liverpool supporters, pipped by a side who have made a habit of taking on the Reds’ cast-offs for big fees in recent years, but there is clearly a plan in place.
According to the Evening Standard‘s David Lynch, the decision was made to opt out of a move for Kelly due to the price tag set by the Cherries.
“The 20-year-old was viewed as capable of providing the flexible defensive cover Klopp is keen to add to his squad this summer,” Lynch wrote.
“However, once it became clear that Bournemouth were willing to pay £13 million in order to get the deal done, Liverpool shelved their interest.”
While it is not a significant fee in the modern market, Bournemouth‘s valuation of Kelly seems to have been higher than Liverpool’s, with the club only willing to spend ‘big’—in a relative sense—on a “guaranteed starter.”
Kelly only made 48 appearances for the Bristol City first team, therefore is unproven at the top level, and would have cost the Reds close to £10 million more than they paid for Joe Gomez in 2015.
Signing Kelly for £13 million as Robertson’s backup, when Moreno has played just five times this season, could be considered a waste of funds despite his potential.
This is particularly the case given Adam Lewis and Yasser Larouci are making great strides at academy level, though Lynch adds that “the Reds remain on the lookout for a player of a similar profile [to Kelly].”
Any progress in the transfer market is unlikely to be made, at least publicly, until after the Champions League final on June 1.
Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano will play host to the 64th game of its kind, and the 173rd time Liverpool will take on Spurs in a competitive fixture in their history.
Both sides were allocated just 16,600 tickets each for the 68,000-seater stadium, leaving most supporters unable to attend the game as corporate sponsors take priority for UEFA.
But unlike last year fans will not be able to access Anfield for a live screening of the final, due to preparations for three concerts at the ground in the following weeks in June.
The decision to host Take That (June 6), Bon Jovi (June 19) and Pink (June 25) means it has deemed there would not be adequate time to prepare the stadium after the final.
Instead, the club have announced access for around 11,500 fans at a screening at The Auditorium Liverpool, Space by M&S Bank Arena and the convention centre:
“Supporters who were unsuccessful in the ballot for Champions League final tickets will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the screening in a pre-sale from 10am on Tuesday, May 21 until 9am on Thursday, May 23.
“Tickets will be limited to one per transaction and supporters must have their customer number.
“Tickets for the screening will go on general sale on May 23 at 12pm via www.ticketquarter.co.uk and will be limited to four per transaction.
“Tickets will be priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children (16 and under).”
Liverpool’s official website adds that “supporters are advised that children under 14 will only be allowed in the Auditorium space.”
Speculation surrounding a possible big-money deal to sign Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt has been quashed by Liverpool Echo journalist James Pearce.
The Reds have been touted as a possible suitor for the 19-year-old European Golden Boy winner this summer, along with the likes of Barcelona and Man United.
De Ligt was one of the standouts of Ajax’s Eredivisie-winning, Champions League semi-finalist campaign, wearing the captain’s armband and playing 55 times in all competitions.
Virgil van Dijk‘s centre-back partner for the Netherlands, and a player the Liverpool defender has spoken highly of in the past, the announcement of his likely departure from Amsterdam prompted calls for a switch to Merseyside.
The prospect of Van Dijk and De Ligt lining up alongside each other at Anfield is a popular one among supporters, but this is now unlikely.
According to Pearce, writing for the Liverpool Echo on Monday morning, the Reds have “no plans” to approach Ajax to discuss a transfer.
“Jurgen Klopp is happy with his centre-back options and isn’t looking to strengthen his squad in that department,” he adds.
Furthermore, this caveat could provide hope for those eager for De Ligt to wear the red of Liverpool next season, but the chances are still slim.
It was a mixed campaign for Liverpool’s academy as the under-18s shone and the under-23s struggled for consistency, but big progress was made regardless.
The Reds’ focus on their young talents has been underlined by significant investment into the redevelopment of their Kirkby training ground, to encompass all age groups.
Work on the facility, which is set to conclude in time for pre-season next year, will allow the first team and academy to work in closer proximity, in theory providing a clearer pathway for the club’s youngsters.
Before that, however, the work of the likes of Neil Critchley and Barry Lewtas as U23s and U18s managers is particularly key.
Critchley led his side through a difficult start to the season to finish fourth in Premier League 2’s Division 1, while the U18s only missed out on the title on goal difference, as Derby lifted the trophy.
Here we take a look at the key stats from the 2018/19, including appearances, goals and assists.Most Appearances
Bobby Duncan followed up his free transfer from Man City to make 43 appearances across the age groups for his boyhood club, establishing himself as one of the stars of the academy.
The free-scoring striker played the majority of his football with the U18s (29), while also featuring for the U19s in the UEFA Youth League (seven) and making his first forays into U23s football (seven).
Fellow U18s regulars Rhys Williams (40) and Leighton Clarkson (35) made the second and third-most appearances.
For the U23s, George Johnston (30) was a near ever-present, with Adam Lewis (27) just behind and Isaac Christie-Davies and Glen McAuley (24) sharing third.
Williams and Lewis were joined by Vitezslav Jaros, Neco Williams and Jake Cain in starting all seven of the U19s’ games in Europe.
And Clarkson tied with Elijah Dixon-Bonner for the most outings for the U18s (both 30), with Duncan one short.Most Starts
Rhys Williams was a pillar of consistency throughout the campaign, and started 37 times in all competitions—including in every outing for the U18s (26) and U19s (seven), and four times for the U23s.
Bobby Duncan (33) made the second-most starts, with full-back duo Adam Lewis and Neco Williams joint-third (32).
George Johnston (30) led the way for the U23s, followed by Lewis (25) and Pedro Chirivella (21), despite the Spaniard departing for Extremadura UD in January.
Despite Williams’ availability for the U18s, Duncan (28) actually made more starts, with the centre-back instead tied with Leighton Clarkson (26) just behind.Most Sub Apps
Skilful winger Luis Longstaff (15) came off the bench more times than any other academy player in 2018/19, followed by Elijah Dixon-Bonner (13) and the soon-to-exit Glen McAuley (12).
McAuley was Critchley’s go-to substitute for the U23s, with left-back Tony Gallacher (eight) not far off and fellow striker Liam Millar (six) making an impact before his loan to Kilmarnock.
Five of Longstaff’s cameos came for the U19s, with Bobby Duncan and Leighton Clarkson level in second (four).
Dixon-Bonner and new arrival Matteo Ritaccio (both 10) were the U18s’ most-used subs, followed by striker and stand-in captain Fidel O’Rourke (nine).Most Goals
Bobby Duncan scored an incredible 30 goals to lead the charts for the academy in his first season, with strike partner Paul Glatzel (29) just one behind and Rafa Camacho (12) making up the top three.
Camacho (eight) scored most for the U23s, followed by Matty Virtue (seven) who joined Blackpool mid-season, while Liam Millar, Glen McAuley and Curtis Jones (all four) were even in joint-third.
The Portuguese (four) also top-scored for the U19s, with Jones and Millar (both three) on his heels.
A key factor behind the U18s’ title challenge and success in the FA Youth Cup, Duncan (28) and Glatzel (26) both broke the 25-goal mark for Lewtas’ side, with Fidel O’Rourke (seven) way behind.Most Assists
Incredibly, as well as scoring the most goals for Liverpool’s academy, Bobby Duncan also created the most with 16, ahead of Jake Cain (13) and Rafa Camacho (12).
Critchley’s MVP, Camacho (eight) was unsurprisingly the U23s’ most creative, with Adam Lewis (five) second and Isaac Christie-Davies and Pedro Chirivella (four) just behind.
Camacho (four) also laid on the most goals for the U19s, with Lewis and Curtis Jones (three) similarly productive.
Sixteen of Duncan’s assists came for the U18s, while all 13 of Cain’s did, with deep-lying midfielder Leighton Clarkson (10) also teeing up his fair share.Most Clean Sheets
The U23s only kept eight clean sheets from 31 games in 2018/19, with the U19s recording two in seven games in the UEFA Youth League and the U18s shutting out their opposition 10 times from 32.
This means Vitezslav Jaros comfortably kept the most clean sheets of any goalkeeper, with 10 in 28 appearances.
Shamal George had the next-best record with four in eight games, having returned from a loan spell with Tranmere Rovers in January.
Two of Jaros’ clean sheets came for the U19s, with nine for the U18s, while Dan Atherton kept one in seven outings, including six starts for Lewtas’ side.Others
Two of the academy’s top five goalscorers left the club in January, with Matty Virtue and Liam Millar both netting seven times before joining Blackpool permanently and Kilmarnock on loan respectively.
While only three players scored 10 or more goals, five recorded 10 or more assists: Bobby Duncan (16), Jake Cain (13), Rafa Camacho (12), Leighton Clarkson (10) and Paul Glatzel (10).
Fifty-five players featured for Liverpool’s academy sides in 2018/19, 157 goals were scored and 88 conceded, with 20 clean sheets kept.
Most-Used Academy XI (4-4-2): Jaros; N.Williams, R.Williams, Johnston, Lewis; Longstaff, Clarkson, Dixon-Bonner, Larouci; Glatzel, Duncan
Ki-Jana Hoever played a focal role in the Netherlands’ 4-2 win over Italy on Sunday, with a superb free-kick helping his side to the U17 Euro title.
The Tallaght Stadium played host to the final of the annual youth international tournament, in a replay of the showpiece clash from 2018.
Hoever was not part of the Netherlands squad last year, but was a key part of Peter van der Veen’s squad in the Republic of Ireland, missing just one game on the way to the final.
The 17-year-old scored a fantastic goal in the 3-0 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals, and helped the Dutch keep three clean sheets in his four outings, conceding just two goals, prior to the final.
He started at centre-back again on Sunday, but his most decisive impact came in the attacking third, as he stood over a set-piece on 37 minutes with his side already 1-0 up.
Hoever struck the post from 25 yards, with Feyenoord’s Naoufal Bannis following up on the rebound to double the Netherlands’ lead.
Ian Maatsen added a third on the stroke of half-time, but Italy’s Lorenzo Colombo reduced the deficit soon after, only for Naci Unuvar to make it 4-1 with 20 minutes to play.
Colombo netted another in the closing stages, with Hoever substituted in injury time following late booking, leaving the teenager to watch on as his side sealed a second consecutive trophy.
It serves as an excellent end to the season for Hoever, who became the third-youngest player in Liverpool’s history in January when he came off the bench in the FA Cup defeat to Wolves.
Along with his impressive first-team debut, the youngster made 20 appearances across the youth groups in his first season on Merseyside, having joined from Ajax last summer.
Speaking to Voetbal International before the game, Hoever explained his plan to “hit the gym for a few years” as he sets his sights on a long-term role at Anfield.
“The direction the club and the manager are going into gives me a lot of confidence for the future,” he added.
Still just 20, Trent Alexander-Arnold stands on the cusp of another meteoric achievement, as he builds a legacy fitting of a special club like Liverpool.
Joel Matip is prompted to retreat five yards in anticipation of his 20-year-old right-back needing assistance under the pressure of Arturo Vidal.
Virgil van Dijk meanwhile prolongs his arm raise, promoting his time and space as backup respite for his team-mate.
Liverpool’s lionhearted chess enthusiast senses a chink in Barcelona’s armour and says no to both, stroking a diagonal cross-field ball enriched with late fade into the path of James Milner, as if relocating his bishop.
Cue seven luminous yellow shirts turning in perfect sync before trudging back to aid their under-the-cosh defence.
In one pass Trent Alexander-Arnold had momentarily removed over a half a team from the equation and granted Ernesto Valverde’s men a warning of the elite navigation system packaged in that West Derby-born right foot.
Perhaps it was Anfield’s invasive and suffocating ambience that led them to foolishly overlook said warning for Liverpool’s fourth goal.
One of the greatest nights in the Reds’ history was engrained with a string of fascinating individual storylines, all deserving of their own dedicated chapters.
The unimaginable heroics of Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson out-fighting Barcelona on painkillers, Alisson’s unsung saves, Fabinho’s duel with a goat, Sadio Mane’s nightmarish stop-start explosiveness, Van Dijk’s purring authority, Andy Robertson’s unwavering excellence, Matip’s pocketful of Luis Suarez, Xherdan Shaqiri’s big opportunity, Milner’s familiar fine wine exhibit.
It was that of Alexander-Arnold, however, that arguably claimed ‘most poignant’.
His storyline had its own subheadings. The aforementioned pass as a lesson to a Sergi Roberto seemingly oblivious to his opposite’s expertise, the misplaced header and subsequent recovery tackle in the buildup to Wijnaldum’s first, the pluck and artistry behind that corner routine.
It was more than that, though.
It was his solo lap of honour in front of the adoring fans whose zeal and grit he had harnessed throughout the 90 minutes.
There he was as the last to leave the Stadio Olimpico pitch in 2018, swinging his scarf to choruses of Allez, Allez, Allez after helping Liverpool overcome Roma to reach the Champions League final.
There he was again at Anfield: a supporter being paid to live the dream, his dream, our dreams. One of our own thanking his own.
Four goals were met with tears, limbs and chaos in its most beautiful form. Now imagine being the boyhood Red yet to turn 21 that was partly responsible for one of club football’s most spectacular comebacks.
While others rejoiced in the dressing room, he took a moment to gather himself in an attempt to comprehend and savour the miracle he had helped achieve.
That puff of the cheeks and shake of the head in utter disbelief was us all. And the badge kiss, oh the badge kiss.
— Ben Smith (@BSmith) 12 May 2019
Half an hour has passed since Liverpool finished runners-up in the Premier League with a tally of 97 points that would have won them 25 titles between 1993 and 2017, and Alexander-Arnold is still on the Anfield turf clipping in crosses to some of his friends.
There’s a familiar feeling he isn’t one to enjoy a break from the football pitch, particularly that he grew up dreaming of playing on.
A routine menace to his delivery garnered two more assists against Wolves, taking him to a Premier League record of 12 from a defender in a single season.
And yet you know with certainty he won’t be dwelling on individual gain. Elite figures driven by an elite mentality.
Liverpool’s academy director Alex Inglethorpe paid tribute to the Scouser earlier this year, with one line in particular standing out.
“He’s an unbelievable person,” Inglethorpe said. “He still craves feedback and I don’t think he sees himself as complete by any measure—he’s still obsessive about getting better.”
“Trent had a certain insight and creativity that meant he was able to play unpredictable passes,” Pep Lijnders told the Liverpool Echo two years earlier when reflecting on his first impressions of Trent.
The concoction of sheer dedication and technical finesse has always been evident. To witness the combination of both flourishing at centre stage was something to behold.
In Trent this special club boasts a special footballer and a special personality.
His rise through the academy ranks entailed a focused suppression of his emotions from coaches, designed to veil any anger, disappointment or frustration that may linger beneath the surface at times later in his professional career.
For one so young to conduct himself with such composure in a game that would mark the biggest of many players’ careers, to see him erupt at full-time and channel the euphoria in the stands was a sight to cherish.
A meteoric rise on the pitch has been coincided by a remarkable impact off it.
In February 2018, he met with eight-year-old Louis Henry, a cerebral palsy sufferer who had just undergone a six-hour operation.
Three months later he was holding his own against Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final.
Fast forward to December and he is spending his Christmas Day with underprivileged families from the local area.
Come May 2019 and he finds himself a back-to-back Champions League finalist boasting 17 assists across all competitions this season.
He is a beacon of what this club stands for and everything you could want in a homegrown starlet.
Sometimes it’s worth taking a moment, as Trent did on Tuesday, to sit back, and appreciate the incredible story unfolding for this 20-year-old; the existence of which elsewhere is threatened more and more by modern football’s riches, business models and hunt for immediacy.
“Trent Arnold has a terrific chance of making it as a top professional,” wrote Steven Gerrard in his 2015 autobiography.
“He’s quite leggy but he’s got a lovely frame and seems to have all the attributes you need. He has the right attitude and comes from West Derby, home to Melwood.
“So Trent is another Scouser and apparently, just as I tried to be John Barnes and Steve McMahon, he grew up pretending to be me while playing in the Merseyside parks.”
You can’t escape the feeling the armband worn by No. 8 will one day find its way to Liverpool’s No. 66.
Marko Grujic played his last competitive game on loan at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, with the result having an impact on the price tag of a Liverpool target.
The Serbian has enjoyed a very productive spell in the Bundesliga this season, establishing himself as one of Hertha’s key players despite their mixed campaign.
Pal Dardai’s side finished 11th in the German top flight, but five goals, one assist and a series of towering box-to-box displays have gained Grujic a host of top-level admirers.
The same can be said of any likely incomings and outgoings, with the focus remaining on the clash with Tottenham in Madrid on June 1.
Liverpool confirmed the signing of Fabinho two days after their defeat to Real Madrid in last season’s final, so no developments should be expected before next month.
But Hertha’s 5-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday could have a bearing on the rumoured pursuit of Germany international Julian Brandt.
Brandt scored the third goal on an afternoon that saw Lucas Alario net a hat-trick and Valentino Lazaro grab Hertha’s consolation, and Leverkusen secured fourth place as they moved ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg.
The 23-year-old did have a release clause of £21.6 million in his contract, with Liverpool among the clubs touted with a move, but that has now changed.
Qualification for the Champions League means that clause is no longer active, and any sides looking to deal with Leverkusen over their top assist-maker (17 this season) will now likely require a much bigger fee.
There is no indication of concrete interest in Brandt this summer, but the bargain nature of his release clause prompted many supporters to call for his signing.
But with Leverkusen now in the driver’s seat, and the midfielder not likely to push for the exit, a move is now less likely.
However, it is worth noting the Bundesliga side’s record sale stands at Heung-min Son’s move to Spurs in 2015, with the reported £22 million received higher than that paid to bring Bernd Leno to Arsenal (£19.3m) last summer.
Though Brandt and Grujic aren’t similar players, they both caught the eye in a roving midfield role this season, and it could be that the solution is already on Liverpool’s books.
The Reds are set to return from a short break on Monday to fly out to Spain for a week-long training camp, as their preparations for the decider begin.
As such, predictions could be easily drawn for this tie, and as familiar foes it could prove to be a cagey clash as neither side risks exposing their weaknesses in Madrid.
Liverpool have shown few in a remarkable campaign, however, and speaking to UEFA ahead of the final Klopp insisted the Reds would still “play LFC football.”
“There are no easy games. In the Champions League there are no easy games, so why should the final be easy? Certainly not,” he said.
“So far we’ve always used our experience in these moments, during every moment in our season.
“That’s what we have to do. We have to play the football we stand for. We have to play LFC football.
“That’s the plan, and then it will still be difficult, but it was difficult in all the other games as well.
“We know that already, so why should we think too much about it?
“If we are really at our absolute top level then we are a difficult team to play against, but we know Tottenham are as well.”
But he is also wise to approach the game in the same way as any other, as the mental pressure of following up on last year’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the final could be a factor.
Instead, Klopp recalled a saying from his native Germany, “all the best things come in threes,” and how Mainz gaining promotion in his third season can be mirrored with triumph in his third European final at Liverpool.
“They are not at the top of their game, but they’ve made important steps in their development. The journey is not over, not for anyone,” he added.
“This is why we feel like we are only at the start, and that there is still a lot to come.”
Liverpool players took to social media to share their holiday snaps after being handed time off ahead of the Champions League final.
After competing in 52 games stretching over nine months, Jurgen Kopp’s side were handed five days off ahead of their final act of the season at the Wanda Metropolitano against Tottenham.
The Champions League final comes three weeks following the end of the domestic season, and after an arduous campaign the players were deserving of a period of rest and relaxation ahead of their preparations for the crucial fixture.
The chance to recharge the batteries and bounce back from an excruciatingly tight finish at the Premier League summit saw the Reds take flight to a multitude of locations—where the pursuit of sunshine seemed top of the agenda.
Players were given the green light to fly abroad so long as no long-haul flights were taken, and it left the United Arab Emirates as a popular destination.
Divock Origi took in the sights in the neighbouring city of Abu Dhabi, as did Simon Mignolet who documented his “very special” visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, while Fabinho relaxed in the sun alongside his wife Rebeca Tavares:
And after missing Liverpool’s last three games of the season through injury the Brazilian also posted an encouraging montage of his continued recovery during his trip alongside a club physio:
And for Dejan Lovren, his time off was spent in his place of birth in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia & Herzegovina and in Croatia in his own hotel on the island of Pag:
The rejuvenated Reds will reconvene on Merseyside on Monday, when they will then head to Spain for a week-long training camp before returning to Melwood for the last of their preparations.
Klopp’s side will then fly to Madrid on May 30, giving the Reds two days to settle in the Spanish capital prior to the final.
City secured a remarkable treble on Saturday evening when they steamrolled past the Hornets in a manner that highlights the gulf in wealth among English sides.
In the buildup to the final, Guardiola took exception to a perceived imbalance in the media’s perception of Liverpool and City’s achievements, claiming a bias against his side.
“If Liverpool had won the Premier League it would have been an ‘incredible’ achievement. When City win it is, ‘oh, it’s OK. It’s an achievement’,” he told reporters.
This is, of course, overlooking the oil-fuelled millions that have been pumped into his squad, with City spending over £100 million in seven of the last 10 seasons, including over £250 million in 2017/18.
His club are currently under investigation for allegedly breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, and after the game Guardiola himself angrily refuted a question regarding a possible payment outside of his contract from City.
There is no denying City’s quality as a side, and their achievements are hugely impressive, but the manager’s stance rightly leaves this under a cloud.
And this has clearly fed into, or been inspired by, the club’s support, as an altercation between journalists in the press box at Wembley on Sunday and one fan highlighted:
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) 18 May 2019
The Associated Press’ Rob Harris, who later questioned Guardiola on the prospect of a backhander from the club’s owners, filmed the scene.
“We’ve done the domestic fucking treble, no one’s ever done it before, but you’ll all have Mo Salah on the back of the fucking papers tomorrow,” the supporter spat.
It was a bizarre statement, and only further highlights the insecurity of City fans in their ongoing ‘rivalry’ with Liverpool.
There is good and bad among every fanbase, as they are unfortunately a growing reflection of society, but to immediately accuse the media of a bias towards Salah after your side wins “the domestic fucking treble” is telling.
City’s celebrations were emblazoned on the front and back pages of the Telegraph, the Mail, the Independent and the Observer on Sunday, among others.
The Reds finished just one point behind City in one of the most fiercely contested title races in the history of the Premier League, recording their best-ever total with 97.
But with Watford then losing 6-0 to City on Saturday evening, they miss out on a place in the Community Shield, with their spot instead going to Liverpool.
The two sides will meet at Wembley just over two months after the Champions League final, with the date expected to be August 4.
This could affect Liverpool’s pre-season plans, with talks underway over a meeting with Napoli at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on July 28.
A potential final friendly of the summer could be played at Anfield, despite initial concerns over the playing surface, but this was expected to be a midweek game in early August.
Therefore, if this goes ahead, the Reds may be required to round off their season’s preparations earlier in the week, perhaps on July 29/30.
Liverpool return from their tour of the United States after their clash with Sporting CP on July 24, ensuring a tight turnaround for a squad already disrupted by the UEFA Nations League, Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America.
City are reigning Community Shield ‘champions’, while the Reds’ last time lifting the trophy came in 2006, with a 2-1 win over Chelsea.
I was invited onto Radio Merseyside on Wednesday night—John Durnin, Nick Tanner and Ken who drinks in the Flat Iron and used to go to school with Chris Lawler’s cousin must have been unavailable—and host Paul Salt’s opening question was about a burning issue.
What do I think of the behaviour of Man City‘s players on their flight home from Brighton?
It said a lot that this was top of the agenda in a week when Liverpool had narrowly failed to win the Premier League with 97 points after only one defeat.
City’s players were undeniably unprofessional. There is no excuse for them singing that Allez, Allez, Allez song whatsoever. None at all.
As unlikely as it seems, City fans do have some songs that aren’t about Liverpool, so why not sing Blue Moon, We Are City or even something by their Bootleg Beatles mate Noel Gallagher instead?
A team of professional footballers singing about supporters of another club being “battered in the streets” or a rival player being injured a la “Ramos/Kompany injured Salah” crosses a line.
And that’s without the loaded “victims of it all,” another reference to the entrenched Mancunian ‘Victimpool’ slur that goes far beyond football, but is used slyly to try to provoke a response to aid their weird obsession with feeling the need to constantly prove a moral high-ground over Liverpool.
Of course the next stage is to wait for an angry response from Liverpudlians then trot out the tired old ‘offended by everything, ashamed of nothing’ line in their moral crusade to convince the rest of the world that they are better human beings than the people of Merseyside—something they can only achieve by trying to denigrate us instead of shouting about themselves.
I’m not sure how they think it comes across, but it gives the impression that Mancunians have an inferiority complex about Liverpool, something that does a vibrant, diverse city no favours at all.
Man City‘s official statement that “any suggestion the lyrics relate to Sean Cox or the Hillsborough tragedy is entirely without foundation,” only compounded the mess.
They were essentially saying ‘it’s about other fans getting battered so that’s perfectly fine’, which must have made interesting reading for their 32-year-old supporter who was put into a medically induced coma after being ‘battered’ in the streets of Gelsenkirchen in March.
“The word ‘victims’, sung as a sneer at a match, does not just voice a cold lack of empathy for the victims of Hillsborough and their families,” wrote City fan and esteemed journalist David Conn in the Guardian.
“It is also aimed at doubting their genuineness as victims, which has been deeply hurtful given the 30-year justice process, with legal proceedings still continuing.”
By effectively legitimising a chant that is open to interpretation, City have opened the door for more of the same.
Say Bayern Munich knocked Man United out of the Champions League (when they’re back in it in 2034/35) in the midweek before a Manchester derby at Old Trafford. Would it be OK for City fans to sing Munich, Munich because any suggestion it relates to the 1958 Munich disaster would be entirely without foundation?
Football fans will always be football fans. Songs that wind up rivals is all part of the culture. I was at Maine Road in 1992/93 when City fans were handing out ‘help us get Peter Swales out and Franny Lee in’ leaflets before kickoff.
By half-time there had been a few incidents on the pitch and the Kippax were singing “you Scouse bastards” and we were singing “there’s only one Peter Swales.”
Even the classless Wolves fans were singing “Raheem Sterling, he’s top of the league” at Anfield on Sunday to try to wind us all up—that’s how football is and always will be.
But there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Singing about tragedies such as Munich (which Liverpool and City fans have both been guilty of in the past) or Heysel or Hillsborough or anything of the same ilk crosses that line for supporters.
And singing about fans being “battered in the streets” most definitely crosses that line when you’re a professional footballer.
I massively respect Pep Guardiola. He’s not only the most successful manager currently in football, he’s also a good guy who knows how close you can come to being inadvertently caught up in tragic events.
"I'm sorry, I apologise. That was never our intention"
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) 17 May 2019
Guardiola’s wife and two daughters were at the Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017 when a bomb was detonated, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds of others.
Thankfully for the Guardiola family they were all OK, but can you imagine the outcry and offence it would cause if supporter or footballers from another club sang about that event?
So why is it OK for City players to sing a song that is interpreted by so many to reference both Sean Cox and Hillsborough, despite the denials?
It isn’t, and as far as I’m concerned it needs a strong, classy manager like Guardiola to come out and say so by apologising properly, because as it stands the behaviour of his players and staff on that flight has tarnished the achievements of him and his brilliant team.
Chris McLoughlin writes for This Is Anfield each week; he’s also senior writer for the Official LFC Matchday Programme and LFC Magazine. If you missed last weekend’s Wolves programme you can buy it here.
Put is unsurprisingly desperate for Keita to recover from his adductor injury in time for the Africa Cup of Nations in June, given the midfielder’s importance to Guinea.
But Jurgen Klopp has previously cast doubt over the 24-year-old’s involvement, explaining at the beginning of May that it was “bad news for us and bad news for Guinea” as the No. 8 was ruled out for “at least two months.”
This stance has already been criticised by Put, who insisted he would be seeking a “second medical opinion” with a doctor Keita is familiar with in Switzerland.
And if the Guinea boss’ comments this weekend are to be believed, this has had the desired effect, with Put now claiming his key man could be back in training in two weeks.
“He consulted his doctor in Switzerland as I said at the beginning. He is in treatment with his doctor,” he told Foot224.
“It is said that he will maybe in two weeks [be ready] to resume [training] with the group.
“It is even possible that he is in the group for the Champions League final if what I have been told is true.
“We will see. That’s the news that I got.”
Put added that Guinea would “wait and remain realistic,” and that “this is not the time to scream or panic. You have to wait and see how it goes.”
The Belgian is set to announce his squad for the tournament in Egypt of May 27, but said further alterations could be made beyond that date “because we still have questions about some players.”
It is wise to question the veracity of Put’s claims at this stage, particularly given Keita has already been evaluated by Liverpool’s medical staff, but they are certainly interesting.
Klopp has been consistent in ruling the midfielder out for the clash with Tottenham in Madrid, and even if he returns to training in two weeks’ time he would not be ready in time for the final.
The hope is that Guinea’s eagerness to include Keita in their Africa Cup of Nations squad, as undoubtedly their best player, won’t risk his long-term fitness.
Last summer, a half-fit Mohamed Salah joined Egypt for the World Cup despite suffering a shoulder injury in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid, and took longer to get back up to speed as a result.
The Brazilian missed the last three games due to a groin injury, but is expected to return for the clash with Tottenham in Madrid on June 1.
Jurgen Klopp‘s squad will head to Marbella next week for warm-weather training in preparation, and the manager has given his players time off before their flight.
Firmino is on holiday with his family, but has been joined by Liverpool’s strength and rehabilitation assistant David Rydings as he undergoes an individual programme to aid his recovery.
And the No. 9 took to Instagram on Saturday morning to provide an update on his fitness, including outside running and ball work:
This would indicate that he is closing in on a return, which could see him join full training along with the rest of his team-mates in Spain, serving Klopp a big boost for the final.
Though his output has been considerably lower this season, with 16 goals and eight assists in 47 games compared to 27 goals and 17 assists in 54 outings last term, Firmino has been central to the Reds’ success.
His industry, movement, close control and creativity are key to the dynamics of Klopp’s attack, and he has often found himself dropping deeper into midfield, too.
Though Divock Origi has stepped up admirably in his absence, most notably with two goals that helped clinch a 4-3 aggregate win over Barcelona in the semi-finals, Firmino’s return against Spurs is imperative.
Liverpool loan duo Herbie Kane and Taiwo Awoniyi both ended their spells on Friday, and both did so in defeat as their impressive campaigns fell flat.
With the former shining in his first campaign as a senior pro with Doncaster and the latter reviving his fortunes with Mouscron in 2019, they have made significant progress away from Merseyside.
Both face uncertainty over their futures this summer despite recently signing new deals with the Reds, but will have enhanced their prospects with excellent performances on loan.
Their time with Doncaster and Mouscron respectively comes to end this week, however, and both suffered losses in their final outings for their temporary clubs.
As Rovers headed to the Valley for the second leg of their League One playoff semi-final against Charlton, Kane’s side needed to overturn a 2-1 loss in the opener at the Keepmoat.
The 20-year-old made his 49 appearance for the club as he started alongside Tommy Rowe and Ben Whiteman in midfield, and played 80 minutes in a chaotic clash.
Charlton went ahead early through Krystian Bielik, but Kane laid on the equaliser—his 10th for the season—on the night as Rowe levelled, and a goal from Andy Butler in the 88th minute forced the game into extra time.
But despite another strike from John Marquis looking set to send Doncaster to Wembley, Darren Pratley struck a minute later to tee up a penalty shootout, which the Addicks won 4-3.
Meanwhile, over in Mouscron, Awoniyi started up front for his side in a Belgian First Division A Europa League playoff tie with his side’s fate already sealed.
But the Nigerian still scored twice in a 4-2 defeat to Waasland-Beveren to bring his half-season’s tally up to 11.
Mouscron finished their playoff group fifth of six, and Awoniyi is now likely to leave Liverpool on a permanent deal, with Schalke among the sides interested in a move the club hope could earn around £10 million.
Grujic will also play his last game on loan with Hertha Berlin on Saturday as they host Bayer Leverkusen, while Loris Karius‘ penultimate fixture of the season with Besiktas comes at Trabzonspor.
Sheyi Ojo could play for Stade de Reims as they take on Bordeaux in their second-to-last Ligue 1 clash, while Kent and Liam Millar will end the Scottish Premiership season as Kilmarnock welcome Rangers.
Finally, Adam Bogdan closes his loan spell with Hibernian against Aberdeen, with the Hungarian then set to leave Liverpool on a free transfer.