Nat Phillips compared to Robert Lewandowski.
Jurgen Klopp has compared Liverpool centre-back Nat Phillips to Robert Lewandowski, who the German coach worked with during his time at Borussia Dortmund.
Phillips has made just two substitute appearances for the Anfield outfit this campaign, a far cry from last season when the club’s extensive injury list saw his services required on a regular basis.
Jurgen Klopp hails Nat Phillips.
The 24-year-old made 20 appearances in all competitions last season, with Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all long-term absentees at one point or another and while opportunities are harder to come these days, his improvement has not gone unnoticed by Klopp.
“People ask me which player has made the biggest improvement under my leadership,” the Liverpool manager said to reporters on Friday.
“Robert Lewandowski is probably right but not far off that is Nat Phillips. Just in a completely different department but I remember when I saw Nat Phillips first and thought he’s one of the smartest players I ever had.
“I said to him ‘you know you’re not easy on the eye,'” Klopp adds with a smile. “But he improved in pretty much everything and he’s not playing here. Life is sometimes not fair.”
I guarantee this is the first – and last – time Nat Phillips is compared to Robert Lewandowski. @LFC manager Jurgen Klopp full of praise for the fifth-choice centre-back who played such an important role in Champions League qualification in the second half of last season pic.twitter.com/b4Jj7vkkIw
— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) December 3, 2021
Nat Phillips is “unbelievable”.
Phillips has been linked with a move away from Anfield during the winter transfer window but Klopp could reward his efforts with a start in Tuesday’s dead rubber Champions League encounter with AC Milan.
“We cannot keep him forever, that’s clear. We needed him, just to be safe, for that half-year,” Klopp said.
“We will see what happens in the window. He was fine doing it because he’s a great guy. But his development is absolutely insane. You saw it last year, you would have said: ‘Nat Phillips, oh my God, he plays in the last line?’
“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.”
Klopp’s role in Lewandowski development.
Nouveau-riche Newcastle United have been touted as a possible destination for Phillips if he is to move and judging by Klopp’s warm words for him, he will be welcomed back at Anfield with open arms, if he ever returns as an opposition player.
To be compared with Lewandowski is not likely to be something that the Bolton-born defender ever expected but Klopp certainly knows a thing or two about the Polish striker’s development into one of the most prolific marksmen in world football.
Klopp was in charge of Dortmund when Lewandowski arrived at the Westfalenstadion in 2010 and together they won two Bundesliga titles, while finishing as runners-up in the 2013 Champions League.