Dejan Lovren's increased self-confidence was the catalyst for a surge in form that involved appearances in the Champions League and World Cup finals last season, according to Jürgen Klopp.
Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday, where, in the corresponding fixture of 2017-18, the centre-back was taken off 31 minutes into an eventual 4-1 defeat.
Lovren will not feature against Spurs this time around due to a pelvis issue but at his pre-match press conference the manager was asked for an explanation of the No.6’s recovery from that October afternoon.
“He only comes closer to his potential, I would say, where he can be,” said Klopp of the defender, who was a runner-up with club and country respectively in those aforementioned finals.
“I was never in doubt about Dejan. What people would say about him in the past was that, consistency-wise, he was not the highest level – it was always very, very good and then not that good.
“In this perspective, it was a very important game for him [at Spurs last season]. He was not that good in that game but I said after the game, I could have changed five or six other players but I decided to do that; he didn’t like it obviously but it helped our relationship as well.
“If I would judge a player because of 20 minutes in his life, I wouldn’t know any player anymore. We all have our 20 minutes, I would say. That’s absolutely not a problem.
“For him, it was clear he still had my 100 per cent support. It was not even too much talking about these two situations [for conceded goals] because they were obvious, it was only about how and what I think about him and when he starts thinking the same about himself that could help him. My opinion is pretty high, his opinion was rather average.
“Meanwhile, he has the confidence as well. Unfortunately, he is not fit in the moment – that makes it a bit more complicated to perform. But it’s all good and he will be back now, I’m pretty sure, in this very intense period with seven games in the next three weeks. I’m pretty sure he will be back in this period.”