Last week, Liverpool players held their final training sessions at Melwood after 70 years there and began to transition to a new facility, the AXA Training Centre at Krikby. Today, the transition is complete and the new training grounds are officially open.
While the shiny new facilities will certainly be welcome and offer more than even the always update Melwood did, the key motivator all along has been to help integrate the youth levels with the first team, something Jürgen Klopp is happy to see happen.
“It’s essential, it’s absolutely important,” said the manager. “I’m the kind of coach who wants to be really connected with these boys. I want to know about them and I want to see them and to give the other coaches the opportunity to watch our training.
“The other thing is that we can watch sessions as well. There’s a lot of things to do but there is of course spare time as well and in this time I would love to watch a session of the U12s, 13s, 14s, 15s, stuff like this, just to know more about these boys.”
Even before the arrival of Klopp at Liverpool, integrating the first team with the youth was a priority that saw the hiring of current assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders to act as a liaison between the first team staff and the most promising youth players.
Today, with Lijnders spending all of his time coaching the first team, Victor Matos is the man tasked with connecting the levels as Liverpool’s elite development coach, a role that today’s official opening won’t end but instead should make easier.
“It will help the process,” Klopp reiterated. “It will improve the process, massively. The relationship with the Academy, it will be as close as ever and that’s really good.”