No top Pre­mier League club can com­pare.

After Jur­gen Klopp announced he would be leav­ing Liv­er­pool at the end of the sea­son, his last six months have become some­thing of a farewell tour. Like a rock star leav­ing the stage. How­ev­er, the Ger­man is a real rock star.

The last match against Pep Guardi­o­la’s Man­ches­ter City, the last final at Wem­b­ley, the last game in the FA Cup… There are still many stops ahead, and it will all cul­mi­nate with a farewell match at Anfield.

Liv­er­pool fan scarf with Jur­gen Klopp.
Pho­to by Reuters




And Klop­p’s lega­cy at Liv­er­pool and the Pre­mier League as a whole con­tin­ues to be a major theme as his farewell tour con­tin­ues. The tac­ti­cal rev­o­lu­tion, tro­phies, fan­tas­tic cham­pi­onship races with Man­ches­ter City — all this def­i­nite­ly deserves a big and good doc­u­men­tary, about 8–10 episodes.

And one of them must be ded­i­cat­ed to how Klopp has worked with young play­ers at Liv­er­pool over these nine years. This has long become a vul­gar banal­i­ty: in inter­views or in sports doc­u­men­taries like All or Noth­ing, club man­agers and func­tionar­ies love to talk about the impor­tance of the acad­e­my, their stu­dents in the squad, how impor­tant it is for the future, which they think about day and night. More often than not, these words are at odds with real­i­ty, but not in the Liv­er­pool of the Klopp era.

Klop­p’s chil­dren. Col­umn by Denis Kazan­sky — about glass and her­itage

The most recent and very strik­ing exam­ple is the recent League Cup final with Chelsea, in which the Reds entered with­out 12 play­ers from the main squad who dropped out due to injuries, and end­ed with a pio­neer squad with leader Vir­gil van Dijk. We can say that this was an extreme sit­u­a­tion and forced mea­sures on Klopp’s part.

It is clear that if Trent Alexan­der-Arnold, Mo Salah, Dar­win Nunez and the rest were healthy and ready to play, things could have been dif­fer­ent. But still, this is not some kind of one-time action out of despair. Through­out his time at Liv­er­pool, Klopp has always been very atten­tive to young play­ers. As con­fir­ma­tion of this the­sis, a sim­ple sta­tis­ti­cal fact: under the Ger­man, 42 grad­u­ates of the club’s acad­e­my made their debut in the main team of Liv­er­pool.

Vir­gil van Dijk and Liv­er­pool play­ers after win­ning the League Cup.
Pho­to by Reuters

And this is a tru­ly impres­sive fig­ure, even if some­times we are talk­ing about just a cou­ple of min­utes played. Even this needs to be achieved. Then every­thing, of course, turns out dif­fer­ent­ly. Some­one like Trent became a super­star. Some­one like Cur­tis Jones or Har­vey Elliott are impor­tant play­ers in the first team. The impor­tance of Caomin Kelle­her only became clear now that Alis­son has been out for a long time. Some­one made a good career in anoth­er Pre­mier League club, like, say, Har­ry Wil­son at Ful­ham.

Of course, even the most devot­ed and immersed Liv­er­pool fans will not remem­ber about some­one. For exam­ple, the first acad­e­my grad­u­ate to make his debut under Klopp is Con­nor Ran­dall, who now runs for Ross Coun­ty. Or, for exam­ple, Joe Maguire, who retired at 27 years old. Or here’s a twist of fate: Max Walt­man made his debut for Liv­er­pool at 18 years and 3 months, and imme­di­ate­ly in the Cham­pi­ons League, and even at the San Siro against Milan. But it was lim­it­ed to just two match­es in a red shirt, and Walt­man now plays in the third high­est Eng­lish divi­sion for Oxford. True, the guy is only 20 years old, so there is still time to get to the top.

Dizzy­ing foot­ball at Anfield: the last duel between Guardi­o­la and Klopp turned into a spec­ta­cle

And when we talk about 42 acad­e­my grad­u­ates, we must remem­ber that we are talk­ing about Liv­er­pool — one of the main clubs in the world, where super­stars play and which faces max­i­mum chal­lenges. This is not the case of the Por­tuguese Ben­fi­ca or, for exam­ple, Sport­ing, where the prepa­ra­tion and fur­ther sale of play­ers is already part of the club cul­ture. And not the sto­ry of the Red Bull foot­ball sys­tem — found, devel­oped, resold.

But it’s still always inter­est­ing to com­pare. The most rel­e­vant and cor­rect com­par­i­son would be with Man­ches­ter City — anoth­er top Pre­mier League club, the main rival of Liv­er­pool in recent years, where the same coach has been work­ing for a com­pa­ra­ble peri­od of time (Klopp arrived in Octo­ber 2015, Guardi­o­la — in the sum­mer of 2016 th). Plus, we remem­ber that in Barcelona Pep will­ing­ly trust­ed La Masia grad­u­ates, and once the start­ing line-up of the Cata­lans con­sist­ed entire­ly of grad­u­ates of the famous acad­e­my.

Pep Guardi­o­la with Man­ches­ter City play­ers.
Pho­to by Reuters

So, in the sev­en and a half years that Guardi­o­la has been work­ing at City, 28 grad­u­ates of the club’s acad­e­my have made their debuts in the main squad. The first in August 2016 was right-back Pablo Maf­feo. The lat­est at the moment are Mamadou Suso­ho, Jacob Wright and Mic­ah Hamil­ton, whom Pep allowed to play in the Cham­pi­ons League match with Red Star Zvez­da in Decem­ber, which did not mean much for City.

The most notable fig­ures are, of course, Phil Foden and Cole Palmer, who are tear­ing up the Pre­mier League this sea­son (the lat­ter, how­ev­er, as part of Chelsea). Plus Brahim Diaz, who man­aged to become the Ital­ian cham­pi­on in Milan, and now plays in his home­land for Real. Now, in addi­tion to Foden, Rico Lewis and Oscar Bobb play more or less reg­u­lar­ly in the first team.

Biog­ra­phy of Jur­gen Klopp: could have become a doc­tor and made Liv­er­pool great again

42:28 — seems to be a dev­as­tat­ing score, even tak­ing into account the fact that Klopp has been work­ing at Liv­er­pool a lit­tle longer. On the oth­er hand, now the City acad­e­my is a pow­er­ful con­vey­or belt for prepar­ing play­ers for sale to oth­er clubs, and this is a clear club strat­e­gy that allows, among oth­er things, to resolve the issue of FFP.

But even with all the nuances, 42 (so far) acad­e­my grad­u­ates get­ting the chance to play for Liv­er­pool at the high­est lev­el is per­haps not as big as a first league title in 30 years, but still a very sig­nif­i­cant part of the lega­cy Klopp leaves behind. in Mersey­side.

Eng­land. Pre­mier League. 30th round

March 31, 16:00. Anfield (Liv­er­pool)

Liv­er­pool

2:1

Brighton