They’re legendary at Anfield and around the world, probably won us the Champions League, and we’ve already seen serious consideration given to the exact science behind Klopp’s hugs. But with another season dawning—and pre-season affection surely being the truest form of affection—it’s time to dive deeper into what we can learn from Klopp’s warm embraces.
The club’s official website has gifted us with all the data we need to begin right here.
The first hug we see is a staple of Klopp’s repertoire, and generally bestowed upon his favourite young players: the ones who he’s really had a hand in working with and who have blossomed into their roles under him.
Klopp first goes in for the handshake, but uses it to pull Trent Alexander-Arnold in. He still favours the traditionally masculine backpat after, but holds Trent in his arms for just an extra moment, presumably to tell him just how important he has been to the team’s impeccable defense in the last season.
See also: Andy Robertson.
The Shoulder Squeeze
We move on to Joe Gomez and to an interesting development in Klopp hug dynamics. Virgil van Dijk plays a lot of roles in Liverpool: the stalwart of a defensive unit that won us the Champions League and got us second place in the Premier League, captain to the team when Hendo and Milner aren’t on the pitch, Players’ Player of the Year. It looks like he’s also performing as a Klopp hug understudy, trailing behind the boss and providing otherwise under-hugged players with some much-needed affection.
Joe Gomez is treated to an affectionate hand clasp from Klopp, but lest he feel lacking in physical affection, receives a semi-painful but decidedly affectionate shoulder squeeze from his defensive partner right after.
Some of you may recognise van Dijk’s actions as ‘cute aggression’ and you would be absolutely correct. We have yet to see if Klopp mirrors van Dijk’s actions as much as the defender does Klopp’s.
The Secret Handshake
And now the absolute best Klopp greeting we’ve seen yet: Gini Wijnaldum, midfielder with a bit of a shaky last season but with potential (realised in the most dramatic way during the Champions League final) oozing out of his 100 watt smile, has a secret handshake with the boss.
That’s right. Klopp and Gini have a greeting ritual that involves an intricate handshake and ends with a hug. And not just any hug. A hug that involves a very gentle headrub. Gaze upon that handshake. Let the hug and headrub wash over you. Live in that moment where Gini is basking in Klopp’s affection and belief in him and in the season to come.
We’ll see a lot more training videos before the season begins, and we can only hope that there’ll be a lot more data to embrace in them.