Jurgen Klopp commends Liverpool Academy graduates Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams for emerging during the club’s injury-ridden season and becoming ‘real Premier League players’ to secure third place
- Jurgen Klopp has praised the contributions of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams this season
- The Liverpool boss believes the academy duo are now ‘real, good players’
- Phillips and Williams were called up as a result of the Reds’ injury-ridden season
- Klopp used 20 different combinations with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez injured
- Now the German claims that the young couple set the perfect example to follow
Jurgen Klopp has hailed Liverpool Academy graduates Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams as ‘real players’ after passing their ‘crash course’ in the Premier League with flying colors.
The young duo were called up earlier in the campaign after long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who saw Klopp fight to keep Liverpool’s season from falling apart.
As the Reds’ title defense eventually crumbled after the Christmas season, Phillips and Williams filled in and ultimately helped the club’s faltering season in recent weeks, securing third place and a spot in the Champions League next season. .
Jurgen Klopp has praised Nat Phillips (left) and Rhys Williams (right) for coming up this season
And Klopp has praised the defending pair, claiming they have created a path to the first team that all the youth from Liverpool’s youth academy can follow in the future.
“These two guys playing like that is incredible, absolutely incredible,” said Klopp. “That was a real crash course in Premier League training, and they learned so much,” he said.
“It’s a sign to all of our Liverpool kids at the academy. It is possible – it shows that it is possible … just work hard.
The duo stepped down after seasonal injuries to Virgil an Dijk (center) and Joe Gomez
Phillips (right) and Williams (left) have created a path for others to follow, Klopp says
‘These guys are clearly not as skilled as crazy, they have had to work really hard. And now they are real Premier League players. And that’s exactly how it can work. I am very happy for them. ‘
Phillips got close to leaving the club last summer, but ironically an injury kept him from leaving, keeping him and playing more games on the center-back than everyone else in the club bar Fabinho.
Williams, 20, was the third most used center-back for Liverpool this season, while the two rookies were deployed in 20 different center-backs, helping to provide some sort of stability towards the end.
The Liverpool boss believes the academy duo are now ‘real, real Premier League players’
Speaking after the final day of the season win at home against Crystal Palace, Klopp insists that the young duo showed great maturity when he needed it in an extremely difficult season.
“They can be very proud of the steps they have taken this year, because it is definitely a different level now, which is very nice to be part of that,” added Klopp.
‘They just played through it like that, didn’t expect an easy situation, just fought through it and we eventually qualified for the Champions League. So let’s talk about how they played is incredible. ‘
One defender who stepped in to help Liverpool in their time of need was Ozan Kabak, with the young Turkish center-back taking a six-month loan in January.
Liverpool have turned down the opportunity to sign defender Ozan Kabak for a permanent transfer
Liverpool will not pay out £ 18m for the Turk and are instead closer to Ibrahima Konate
However, the Reds decided not to exercise the option to finalize his move, with Klopp telling the 21-year-old about their decision with Liverpool instead to go ahead with the £ 40m signing of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.
Injuries prevented Kabak from playing as important a role as he’d hoped, but his performances have still sparked a lot of interest.
Liverpool held further talks with Leipzig and France U21 international Konate on Tuesday before paying his buyout clause.