Liverpool’s new summer signing Ragnar Klavan has sung the praises of former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal for transforming his career.
Klavan started off as a left-back, but it was Louis van Gaal – who was the Estonian’s manager at AZ Alkmaar in 2009 – who decided that the defender’s best position would be at centre-back rather than full-back.
The two had very contrasting summers this year, however, as van Gaal was sacked from his post as United manager, whereas Klavan signed for Liverpool from Bundesliga side Augsburg for an undisclosed fee.
Despite the Dutchman’s failures in England, Klavan has hailed the influence the former United boss had on his career.
“It was Louis van Gaal who made me into a centre-half,” Klavan told The Telegraph.
“Before that I’d played mainly as a left back. He changed my game.
“Van Gaal was brilliant. I learnt a lot from him. We were not a big team in the Dutch league, but there were no egos there and he took it over without pressure. I’d heard he had problems in Bayern Munich because of his big character and ego, but for us he was ideal, telling us what to do and in the end we were champions.”
Klavan has also stated that he is determined to fight for his place in the first team, and keep pushing himself to be the best he can be under Jurgen Klopp.
“I don’t see it as a competition with my team mates,” he added. “If I I don’t play I take it as a sign I have to do better to challenge the guy who is playing.
“I like to be part of how the team functions and works. I still have those same values about football.
“That is what makes you go further. I don’t want to come here, sit down on a comfortable chair and cruise along through the season. You have to make the best of every day and every training session. That will bring us further as players and as a team.”