Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has compared Nat Phillips to Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski, not because the centre-back has become a world class goalscorer behind the scenes, but as a result of big improvements in his game.
Klopp coached Lewandowski for four seasons at Borussia Dortmund, first working with the player when he was only a couple of years removed from lower league football and at that stage had also never played outside his native Poland.
In just four seasons, he saw huge changes in the striker, who was already one of the best ‘number nine’ players in Europe before a 2014 switch to Bayern Munich.
Klopp has claimed that Phillips, who has played only 136 minutes for Liverpool this season, is now rivalling Lewandowski in terms of most improved player he has ever managed.
“People often ask me which player made the biggest improvements under my leadership, and I say Robert Lewandowski. That’s probably right, but not far off that is Nat Phillips, just in a completely different department,” the Liverpool boss said, via the Daily Mail.
Klopp said that Phillips is ‘one of the smartest players’ he has ever worked with and has ‘improved in pretty much everything’ since he first clapped eyes on him.
Klopp also conceded it is ‘not fair’ that Phillips hasn’t been playing this season as a result of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez all returning to fitness, on top of Ibrahima Konate arriving for £36m. But the 24-year-old played an important role filling in last season and may now get an opportunity to move somewhere he will get regular opportunities in the January transfer window.
“Life is sometimes not fair and I can’t blame him. We cannot keep him forever, that’s clear. We needed him, just to be safe, for that half year. We will see what happens in the window. He was fine doing it because he’s a great guy,” Klopp explained.
“His development is absolutely insane. People love him because of his heading but with his feet he is unbelievable. He’s a late starter, but his development is unbelievable. I would sign him for any club except Liverpool, because we have him.”