Jürgen Klopp has made a clear difference for Liverpool on the pitch since signing on to manage the club nearly two years ago, and it became clear over the past summer that it wasn’t just on the pitch where he was making a difference as big name players lined up to join his project.
Virgil van Dijk rebuffed Chelsea and Manchester City interest for Klopp. Naby Keïta signed on a year early despite the possibility of clubs like Bayern Munich and Barcelona coming for him if he waited. And Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rejected Arsenal and Chelsea for Klopp.
“Even as a neutral watching him last season, you see he's a really interesting character and someone that seems very inspiring for people that aren't even involved in the club,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain. “Watching him, it’s his passion and how much he cares about the game.
“The thing that stood out for me was his relationship with the players, how close he seems to bond on and off the field. That's massive and it's definitely a big plus when you're looking to progress, having that relationship with the manager, and then obviously the way his teams play.”
The willingness to buy into Klopp’s project and join Liverpool didn’t always come off perfectly—Southampton managed to hold on to Van Dijk and Keïta won’t be here until next season—but it was clear that having Klopp as Liverpool’s manager spoke volumes to potential recruits.
Now it’s up to the new signings who did arrive—to Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson and Dominic Solanke and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, too—to do their part and show that the manager was right to believe in them just as they chose to believe in him when they picked Liverpool
“Even when he was at Dortmund, you see these things from the outside when you look at managers and the way they work,” the attacking midfielder added. “You sort of feel like you get to know him when you listen to him in his press conferences—and then the insights I've had from the boys on him.
“What he's achieved, you respect that straight away and how much he knows about the game, and then all his extra attributes—his relationships with the players and how he pushes, encourages, and what he demands from you—that's like a bonus. That's what makes him special.”