Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has had a habit, over the course of his managerial career, of uncovering hidden gems in the transfer market. And one of his greatest transfer successes, Robert Lewandowski, has gone on to become one of the best out-and-out strikers in the world.
Klopp recruited Lewa from Polish club Lech Poznań for a scant €4.5 million in 2010. Of course, it wasn’t always easy for the striker, as he explained in a BBC interview ahead of the second leg of the Bayern Munich-Liverpool clash in the Champions League Round of 16.
“The first two years at Borussia Dortmund, my finishing was not like it is now,” Lewa explained. “After every single training session I stayed on the pitch and practised with my left foot, my right foot and being systematic and repeating the movements was very important.
“Sometimes I did it without a goalkeeper, who might have been tired or not have time for me, because I would stay on for two extra hours.”
All of this extra training had negative consequences, too. As we have seen with many incoming Klopp recruits to Liverpool, it took Lewandowski several months to start showing his quality in matches as well as on the training ground.
“I remember the first six months at Dortmund, the training was very hard under Jurgen Klopp. I was very young and wanted to show everyone I could do it 110% in every training session.
“After two or three months, I was very tired and could not show all my skills. It was too much for me and I needed three months lighter training to get back to form.
“When I think about it now, I learned a lot. After the first few months my body was ready to work harder. Around November I scored a lot of goals and my team-mates said ‘Robert is back’, and I knew then I could show all my skills.”
It’s an interesting insight from the Bayern man about what exactly Klopp expects on the training ground (basically, everything). This also fits well with the narrative we have seen from other “slow starters” at Liverpool, including Alex Oxlade-Chamberalin, Andy Robertson, and Fabinho.
For future recruits, this is also a positive example of what is possible under Kloppo. See, I nearly broke Lewa too. Do you want to become the best in the world or not?
Hopefully Lewa won’t quite get the chance to show his former mentor what he has become in the next leg.