Ranking the 5 greatest defenders to play under Jurgen Klopp

Who is the greatest defender to play under Klopp?
Who is the greatest defender to play under Klopp?

Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool from top six contenders to title challengers since taking charge at Anfield in 2015. His ability to transform players into superstars with a never-say-die attitude differentiates him from most other managers at the top level.

The German signed for Liverpool after a superb spell at Borussia Dortmund, which included two league titles, and he is one of the best tacticians in the game.

Jurgen Klopp has nurtured several footballers into world-class players

His role in the development of players such as Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski at Dortmund should not be underestimated.

Jürgen Klopp: 🗣 “I don't buy superstars, I make them.”

Meanwhile, exceptional signings such as Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Alisson, and many others at Liverpool have helped remodel the club to become one of Europe’s best.

He has won the Premier League and Champions League with Liverpool by deploying a brand of attacking football that is a joy to watch. With a contract until 2024, it is certain that Klopp will want to achieve even more glory with the Reds.

Jurgen Klopp has had many great players under his tutelage and here are the top five defenders to have worked under him:

#5 Neven Subotic

Neven Subotic played for both Mainz and Dortmund
Neven Subotic played for both Mainz and Dortmund

Neven Subotic has always been prominently present in Jurgen Klopp’s sides. Much adored by Dortmund fans, the Serbian has made 281 appearances for Klopp, including 246 appearances for the club.

Subotic has been one of Jurgen Klopp’s favorites, and his longevity is why he slightly edges the likes of Joel Matip and Lukasz Piszczek on this list.

The Serbian is excellent on the ball and aerially as well. He won successive Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012, two German Super Cups and one DFB-Pokal Cup under Klopp.

Subotic (On Jürgen Klopp): "he's a legendary manager who is always good for a surprise with his team, as well as in the Champions League."

Subotic spent two seasons with Jurgen Klopp at Mainz, from 2006 to 2008, the latter of which was played in Bundesliga 2. When Jurgen Klopp found his next challenge at Dortmund, he decided to take the dependable centre-back along with him.

The Serb was immediately a commanding presence in Dortmund’s defense along with the likes of Mats Hummels. Subotic has had an eventful footballing career, and the 32-year-old is currently a free agent.

#4 Andy Robertson

Andy Robertson is often considered a teacher's pet at Liverpool
Andy Robertson is often considered a teacher's pet at Liverpool

Liverpool fans took an immediate liking to Andy Robertson once they witnessed his passion and relentless pressing on the football pitch. The Scottish international has been performing consistently for the Merseyside Reds since joining in 2017.

Robertson is one of Jurgen Klopp’s best bargain buys, having signed for the club for a fee of around £8 million. The 27-year-old has a contract until 2026 and is a great character both on and off the field.

Just a reminder that Andrew Robertson cost Liverpool just £8m. Bargain of the decade. 🔴⚽️

His expertise and charisma will profoundly impact the younger players who come into Liverpool’s first-team. The left-footed Scot has 39 assists for Liverpool in 189 appearances and has displayed a defensive solidity, especially against opposition wingers.

Since he signed, Liverpool have achieved a lot, including the league title, one UEFA Champions League title, the UEFA Supercup, and the Club World Cup.

#3 Mats Hummels

DSC Arminia Bielefeld v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
DSC Arminia Bielefeld v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga

Mats Hummels was one of Jurgen Klopp's most frequently used players during his time at Borussia Dortmund. The German centre-back was a key aspect of the side that won back-to-back league titles in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 Bundesliga seasons.

Under Jurgen Klopp, Hummels made a reputation for himself as one of the best centre-backs in Europe with clean tackles and impressive ball-playing ability. He played in 242 games for Klopp and won two league titles, two Super Cups, and one DFB Pokal Cup with the German at the helm.

Jürgen Klopp: "Mats Hummels is the best centre back in Germany. I'm happy that he returned to Dortmund. He just fits in there" [Bild]

Hummels was, in a way, what Jurgen Klopp was looking for before the arrival of Van Dijk at Liverpool. His defensive consistency and leadership qualities made him an invaluable asset to the German side.

Hummels has moved back-and-forth between Bayern Munich and Dortmund over the years and is one of the most experienced defenders in the world.

#2 Trent Alexander-Arnold

Leicester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Leicester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League

A product of Liverpool’s youth academy, Trent Alexander-Arnold has established himself as one of the best right-backs in the game right now. At just 23, he has already amassed a lot of big-game experience and has honed his skills expertly.

Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool’s assist king with his pinpoint crosses being put on a plate for his front men, who promptly put the ball in the back of the net. Jurgen Klopp has made the most out of his fullbacks, striking an effective balance between attack and defense.

Can we talk about just how good Trent Alexander-Arnold is by the way? These stats are incredible 🤯Still only 22-years-old. He’s going to be hitting these levels at Liverpool for a LONG time 👏Best right-back in the world? 🤔

The homegrown talent already has 52 assists and 11 goals under Jurgen Klopp, which includes some glorious free-kicks. The young Englishman has four trophies already, including a Champions League and the Premier League title.

Alexander-Arnold is third on the list for most assists this season in the Premier League and will get many more in games to come. He certainly has the potential to become an all-time great for Liverpool and perhaps will take the captain’s armband in the future.

#1 Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League

Virgil van Dijk, who has been one of the best defenders in the world in recent times, undoubtedly claims the top spot on this list. He has completely transformed Jurgen Klopp’s backline, and Liverpool have been rock-solid defensively more often than not when the Dutchman is on the pitch.

Last season, Van Dijk was absent for a long duration due to an injury he picked up against Everton, which was a massive blow to Liverpool in their campaign. The 30-year-old is back this season and looks as solid as ever.

The 2019 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year was Virgil Van Dijk. What a year he’s had!

Under Jurgen Klopp, Van Dijk has won the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup. The defender was also the PFA's Player of the Year award winner in 2018-19.

Van Dijk is blessed with pace, strength and dominance in the air, and the effortless manner in which he wins the ball back make Jurgen Klopp’s job a lot easier. The 2019 UEFA Player of the Year has effectively led the backline for Liverpool and has also contributed upfront with the odd goal.

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Edited by Nived Zenith
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