What Virgil van Dijk told Liverpool squad after Jurgen Klopp exit bombshell | Football

Virgil van Dijk told Liverpool’s squad to use Jurgen Klopp’s exit as motivation (Picture: Getty)

Trent Alexander-Arnold says Virgil van Dijk urged Liverpool’s first-team squad to use Jurgen Klopp’s impending departure as ‘motivation’ to give the manager the best possible send-off in the wake of his shock announcement in January.

Klopp stunned the footballing world as he revealed, seemingly out of the blue, his intention to step down at the end of the season after nine trophy-laden years at Anfield.

The 56-year-old German has transformed Liverpool’s fortunes since taking over the reins from Brendan Rodgers back in October 2015, steering the club to eight pieces of silverware including the Premier League and the Champions League.

An FA Cup quarter-final defeat at the hands of Manchester United extinguished Liverpool’s hopes of winning a historic quadruple this season, following the side’s Carabao Cup victory, but the Reds remain in the hunt in the top flight and in the Europa League this term.

The Merseyside giants play host to Premier League strugglers Sheffield United on Thursday night, looking to tighten their grip at the top after coming from behind to beat Brighton last weekend.

However, both Arsenal and Manchester City have the chance to leapfrog their title rivals at the summit when they entertain Luton and Aston Villa respectively this evening.

In a wide-ranging chat with Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher for The Athletic, Alexander-Arnold took his mind back to the day Klopp announced his decision to leave and revealed how the squad reacted to the news.

Liverpool ace Trent Alexander-Arnold looks on

Alexander-Arnold has missed the Reds’ last ten games due to injury (Picture: Getty)

The Liverpool and England right-back explained: ‘It started like a normal day. Then the manager called a meeting at 10:30am, which we had never had before, so everyone was like, “What’s going on?”.

‘He came into the changing rooms and told us there was news breaking as he was speaking. So we found out as players at the same time as everyone else but he told us personally.

He said that this had to be his last season, that he needed a break to spend time with his family. I didn’t know what to do. You think, “Is this a joke?”. None of us were expecting it.

‘After he left the room, everyone was just sat there thinking, “Has that just happened?”. Then you have to get on with it, going out to train in an hour, doing your job.’

Klopp is looking to add to his haul of eight trophies at Liverpool (Picture: Getty)

Liverpool’s players are determined to give Klopp the perfect farewell by adding to their Carabao Cup triumph at Wembley and ending the season on a high.

Alexander-Arnold added: ‘100 per cent. That was something that Virgil said to us all after Jurgen had told us.

‘He said: “This is huge news that’s going to rock the footballing world but we can’t let it distract us, we have to use it as motivation. The manager has led us to so much success, he’s enabled us to fulfil our dreams, so we owe it to him to give everything we possibly can to give him the best send-off”.

‘Virg said if people think this is going to make us take our eye off the ball then we need to prove them wrong. It was big news but as professionals, you have to get your head around it quickly and move on.’

Alexander-Arnold is hopeful of returning in the next fortnight (Picture: Getty)

Alexander-Arnold has missed Liverpool’s last ten games with a knee injury but hopes to return to the fold ‘in the next couple of weeks’ to aid the club’s push for trophies in the business end of the season.

‘It’s been difficult. You pick up your niggles, issues that rule you out for a few weeks, and you get on with it,’ he continued.

‘But when it’s months and you’re missing finals and games against teams like Man City, then it hurts.

‘The whole world is watching and that’s the stage you want to be performing on – but it’s been incredible to see the young lads come into the team and perform like they have done. The day we had at Wembley was amazing.

‘When you’re not playing yourself and not able to do what you’ve always done, it’s hard. Football is your life.

‘If everything keeps going right then I should be back in the next couple of weeks.’

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