Jürgen Klopp has explained why Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold were selected as Liverpool's new captain and vice-captain – and outlined the crucial role the squad's senior leadership group will have to play.
The Reds announced on Monday the pair would take over armband responsibilities following the departures of Jordan Henderson and James Milner earlier this summer.
In addition to the confirmation of Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold as the new captain and vice-captain, Klopp also detailed how the dressing room's leadership group will now shape up heading into 2023-24.
The manager sat down with Liverpoolfc.com at the team hotel in Singapore to discuss the news on Tuesday morning. Read on to see what he had to say...
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Jürgen, Virgil van Dijk has been named as our captain. What's your reaction to the news and why is he the right choice?
My reaction? It was my decision. We had to make the decision and I had to think about it. But with Virg it's really now not difficult because I think he's an absolutely natural follower of a really big personality with Hendo, and we had to replace James Milner as well. Is that possible with one person? Probably not, so that's why it's really important that we speak, maybe a little bit later, about the leadership group, which is a really important group of people.
But Virg has everything to wish for to be a captain of a football club. Number one, he's probably, let me have a think, definitely the best-looking captain in the Premier League, which is important for team pictures! But, of course, personality-wise everything is there.
He wants to be a leader, he is a leader. He has to step up, like all of us have to step up because we were used to things how they always were and now we have to create something new – a new structure, a new culture – and that's really exciting. He will play a massive role in that – he has to. With the captaincy now, I'm pretty sure in the moment he feels the pride, he feels the honour. The busy stuff of it, the work behind it, he will feel from now on and that's good. We will do that all together, we all will help him. But I think it was the absolute logical decision. When I saw his reaction, I was really happy for him because I was captain of Mainz 05 for a while, which is a nice thing to have but I never felt these kind of things. But obviously being captain of Liverpool FC is completely different. I saw he was really happy about it, so I was happy about it and now we can start working.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has taken the vice-captaincy. It's another step on what's been a wonderful journey so far…
So, the thing is that the leadership group is Virgil, Trent, Robbo, Ali and Mo, and they all have, like, captain's potential. So it's not that I now sat there and had to make a decision against somebody. I just had to make sure that we make the right decision, and these five players will have a massive role. The vice-captaincy, I just think Trent is ready. He is our Scouser, he is playing for me pretty much since the beginning, if not then half a year later he was with us. He improved, he developed as a player and as a person massively. I wanted him to be in that role, we spoke about it and he was more than happy to take it because, again, it's important that the boys understand the work behind the honour, let me say it like that. I think it's a really good decision. Not all my decisions I am always happy with afterwards but with this one I know I will be. I will stay happy because he's not only representing that slightly younger generation, he's representing everything about this club, knowing every person in this club, knowing every driver in the club, knowing really everything – and I think this is really important. And I'm happy to watch and be beside him when he makes the next steps in his development. I think we will hopefully have a lot of joy with this boy and with the new role he should feel the trust we have in him and let's see where that leads to.
Let's talk about the senior leadership group, then. As you say, replacing Hendo and Millie is a really difficult act to follow, so they've all got a role to play in that…
Absolutely. All the other three, they all have different characteristics obviously and I think Robbo is the one you cannot miss out in a leadership group because he's a natural leader. He's most of the time in a good mood, that's good but not the reason for it. But Robbo has a few attributes Millie brought into the team, so like his discipline is really important to him and these kind of things. And he's the skipper of Scotland, so he knows how to deal with different situations. Because [when] we are all running and it's all flying then nobody needs [the] leadership group. We need that in the moments when it's not 100 per cent how we want it. I think with all his characteristics he's perfect for a very important role in the team and as well I hope he understands what it means from our side, from the coaching staff, that we really see him in a super-important position in this team. And same for the other two.
Ali in the dressing room is really, really important because he's calm. If Ali says something, everybody is listening, so that's important from a captaincy point of view. I had goalkeepers as captains in the past – on the pitch, it's not great; off the pitch, super-important. So that's because on the pitch it's just too far away for a lot of things and these kind of things. But Ali is a natural leader, so we need him in that group as well. And the same is for Mo, captain of Egypt, one of the best players to ever play for this club. But strikers are different, strikers have to be different – we all benefit from that. So we need him as a role model, we need Mo as the one who leads the line, if you want, who is the first to press, who's the first to all these things on the pitch. And off the pitch, he's smart, everybody loves him, everybody wants to have him around, so for us he's super, super-important. But I think for all the duties a Liverpool captain has to do, I think the first three suit better to them, and then the other two can be what they are and always were and can be themselves, help the team in the best possible way and push the team in the best possible way but stay themselves because that's the player we signed, that's the player we love and that's the player we need.