Arne Slot took secret transfer trip to Liverpool thanks to Pep Lijnders

Arne Slot
-Credit: (Image: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Arne Slot's first encounter with the electric atmosphere of Anfield dates back over seven years, to a chilly February evening in 2017. The Dutchman, then at the helm of SC Cambuur, was brought over to Liverpool by Pep Lijnders, Jurgen Klopp's right-hand man, to witness a Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur that promised to be the weekend's highlight.

The trip, orchestrated by Lijnders and Michael Edwards, wasn't just for the spectacle; it was a business endeavor aimed at discussing the loan prospect of midfielder Pedro Chirivella with Julian Ward, who was overseeing loan pathways at the time. Despite the professional nature of his visit, Slot couldn't help but be captivated by the vibrant Anfield crowd, especially as Sadio Mane's brace secured a thrilling 2-0 victory for the Reds.

Now, as the new head coach ready to steer Liverpool post-Klopp, Slot reflects on that initial Anfield experience: "At that moment I was at Cambuur Leeuwarden and we didn’t play at the highest level in Holland, so there was a big difference between where I was then and now," Slot says of his maiden voyage to Anfield.

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"Of course, the league here and facilities were bigger, and there were a lot more people, but at Feyenoord I was at a club which was in the Champions League and outplaying some clubs in the Champions League so, of course, there is a difference, but not as much as there was six or seven years ago when I was at Cambuur.

"I went with the former sporting director (Edwards). We spoke a bit and I had a look and feel for the club, but not in such a way that I would assume that seven years later I would be in this position.

"We were like two fans going to the game. It was before they won the league and Champions League. You know better than anyone that people liked what Jurgen did here. He changed the style of play and the amount of times the team won. Everyone was positive even back then without the team at that stage winning trophies."x

Arne Slot
Arne Slot is now back at Liverpool as manager -Credit:Getty Images

The spectacular growth of both Liverpool and Slot as a manager since those times has been impressive. They clinched a top-four finish under Klopp that season and rapidly ascended to the Champions League final in the subsequent season.

By the summer of 2020, Klopp's warriors had secured the European Cup, a maiden Club World Cup, and the Premier League, in addition to a duo of League Cups and an FA Cup along their journey. The accumulation of trophies itself signifies a golden era, but it hardly encapsulates the extensive revolution experienced by the club and its global fanbase during Klopp's reign on Merseyside.

Slot, the new Liverpool manager, believes that achieving a similar level of success to his predecessor is not an impossible task. “That depends of course on what you define as success," he said. "Trophies? I think if you work at a club like Liverpool, that’s the aim. The players have that aim, the club has and the fans have.

“We’re here to win something. We’re here to become better players, to become a better team and as an end result of that, we want to win trophies. We come here on a daily basis because we want to improve and we want to play special games.

“But we’re here at this level because every player, and the manager as well, have a burning desire inside of him that he wants to win. Probably because you want to win so bad, that’s also the reason why you want to improve if that makes sense.

“It’s difficult to find the number because if you follow the Premier League, you follow Liverpool , you follow some other teams, so you see them a lot but more in a general way.

“But then the moment you get to know that you will become the next Liverpool manager, and you have seven weeks holiday, which was quite long for me, there was a lot of time to watch many games. It’s a compliment to Jurgen that many games looked the same.”