Football

Julian Nagelsmann: Juergen Klopp has the gift of developing clubs

RB Leipzig's German coach Julian Nagelsmann said his compatriot and Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp "has the gift", adding that the Reds "are not in a mega-crisis".

Speaking ahead of the sides' Champions League last-16, first-leg clash at the Puskas Arena in Hungary, Nagelsmann told German publication Kicker: "Juergen is one of the most successful club coaches and has always made a difference in his stints in Mainz, (Borussia) Dortmund and Liverpool.

"He took over Dortmund in a very bad time and made it a top club. He took over Liverpool in a not very successful time and made it a very successful team with the Champions League victory and league title.

"He has the gift of developing clubs and moving people...

"(Liverpool) are not in a mega-crisis and will certainly be stable against us."

The 33-year-old coaching prodigy, who led Leipzig to the Champions League semi-finals last season, added that the Reds, European champions in 2019, are favourites despite their poor form.

Klopp's side have lost their last three games. They have won just two of their last eight matches in all competitions.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Nagelsmann said: "We are in a good flow. We have won the last four matches while Liverpool have not won five out of their last seven.

"They are the slight favourites based on their international experience. But we have shown that we can hold our own against such teams, both last year and this season with a very tough group stage...

"They have written off the league title and will be 100 per cent focused for the game tomorrow."

Leipzig's former Liverpool goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi added in an interview with The Athletic: "I believe we've really broken into the international elite. We're not a one-hit wonder."

Meanwhile, Klopp has insisted he still has the energy to turn around Liverpool's season after he conceded the English Premier League title following last Saturday's 3-1 defeat by Leicester City.

Social media speculation after the loss that Klopp could walk away was dismissed by the German, who thanked supporters who placed a banner reading "YNWA (You'll Never Walk Alone) Juergen" outside the club's Anfield stadium last Sunday.

He said: "I might not look like this, my beard gets more and more grey, but I am full of energy.

"The situation is a challenge, an interesting challenge.

"We will sort it. We will sort it by playing football, by being even more together, by learning more than you can learn in each season we played before."

Klopp also praised Nagelsmann, calling him an "extraordinary talent". He said: "He's still young as a coach, but he's already proven everything you can as a manager. He's young, fresh but still experienced and serious."

Football