‘I said…’ – Lijnders on what he told two key Liverpool figures prior to Arne Slot appointment

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Pep Lijnders has revealed what he said to two key figures at Liverpool prior to Arne Slot’s recent appointment as head coach.

The 41-year-old is leaving Anfield to take charge of Red Bull Salzburg, having spent several years as Jurgen Klopp’s trusted assistant for the Reds, and he has nothing but praise for the German’s successor in the home dugout in L4.

In an interview with The Athletic, Lijnders states that he spoke with his boss, as well as FSG president Mike Gordon, about the type of coach that LFC needed to appoint when their long-serving manager announced in January that he’d be departing at the end of the 2023/24 season.

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The Dutchman said of Slot: “You need a coach like Arne who is close to what we tried to do over the years, in terms of having the ball in the opposition half, pressing, counter-pressing — he’s very strategical in that point of view. He’s made good steps and now it’s the chance for him to make another big step.”

He continued: “When I spoke with Mike and Jurgen, I said you need a young coach who can grow with this new team. Arne has everything in him to be a success here.”

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FSG’s CEO of Football Michael Edwards and new sporting director Richard Hughes were heavily involved in appointing Slot, and one thing we know about the former from his previous spell at Liverpool is that he firmly backs his judgement when it comes to recruitment decisions.

He’s renowed for his commitment to making data-driven choices, although the input of a trusted figure from within the club such as Lijnders may have also played a part in the former Feyenoord boss getting the head coach job.

As highlighted by The Athletic, the 45-year-old bears plenty of similarities to Klopp in terms of his tactical approach and off-field demeanour, while also being slightly younger than the German was when he took charge of the Reds in 2015.

Although the departing manager leaves an incredibly hard act for Slot to follow, the latter has the benefit of a very strong starting position, much more so than what his predecessor inherited just over eight-and-a-half years ago.

Lijnders may no longer be at Liverpool, but maybe his advice to Gordon and Klopp filtered through to the club’s powerbrokers before they appointed his Dutch compatriot to the head coach position. Let’s hope he lives up to the 41-year-old’s glowing endorsement.

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