I hope Liverpool give summer signing another year - I have nothing personal against Jurgen Klopp

Looking back to last summer, it should be no surprise that Liverpool turned to the Bundesliga for the bulk of their £150m midfield overhaul.

When Jorg Schmadtke was appointed as the Reds’ new sporting director on a short-term contract, having previously held similar posts at VfL Wolfsburg, FC Koln, Hannover 96, and Alemannia Aachen over the past two decades, the writing was on the wall.

With the departing Julian Ward staying on an extra week to help oversee the already-agreed £35m arrival of Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton & Hove Albion, Schmadtke then stepped in and made use of his contacts in his homeland over the rest of the summer.

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Dominik Szoboszlai was brought in from RB Leipzig in a £60m deal after Liverpool activated his release clause, while long-term target Ryan Gravenberch was belatedly snapped up from Bayern Munich in a deal worth up to £40m on transfer deadline day.

Jurgen Klopp would later admit that the Reds had had to be patient for the Dutchman, declaring, ‘We knew there was a chance for Ryan,’ when later recalling the start of pre-season at an Anfield Road stand test event in December. With the club holding talks with his representatives through much of the first half of 2023, such a move was a long time coming.

Meanwhile, after being left frustrated in their pursuits of a new holding midfielder after the unexpected exits of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia, missing out on the likes of Moises Caicedo, Romeo Lavia, and Andre Trindade, Liverpool eventually settled on Wataru Endo from VfB Stuttgart.

Admittedly, onlookers were left bemused by the arrival of the then 30-year-old Japan captain who had initially been in a 2. Bundesliga player when joining Stuttgart in August 2019, before regularly battling to avoid relegation from the German top-flight.

Both Klopp and Endo have conceded on more than one occasion that in normal circumstances, he would not be a Liverpool target. But needs must, and his £16.2m arrival, after overcoming a slow start, now looks both a bargain and a masterstroke.

Admittedly, Szoboszlai, Gravenberch, and Endo have endured contrasting fortunes during their first season on Merseyside.

The Hungarian started strongly, only to go off the boil during the second half of the season after suffering two hamstring injuries. Meanwhile, the Netherlands international has impressed in glimpses but struggled to nail down a regular place in the side.

And as previously mentioned, while Endo initially started slowly, he has impressed since deservedly winning a place in Klopp’s starting XI as the campaign reached its midway point. The now 31-year-old will have surprised a lot of people in England as a result, but not Liverpool legend Didi Hamann.

The German knows all about moving from the Bundesliga to the Premier League, having left Bayern Munich to sign for Newcastle United in a £5.5m deal in 1998 when just shy of his 25th birthday. The following year the Reds parted with £8m to bring Hamann to Anfield.

A two-time Bundesliga champion with Bayern, Hamann had also won the UEFA Cup and DFB Pokal with the Bavarians, as well as contested in the 1999 Champions League final. But despite such experience, the Germany international still took time to adapt at both Newcastle and Liverpool, with early injuries not helping his cause.

And having seen plenty of Endo in the Bundesliga prior to his own move to Liverpool, Hamann has not been surprised by his success at Anfield, believing missing out on Caicedo has proven to be a blessing in disguise.

“No, he hasn’t surprised me,” Hamann, courtesy of Free Bets, exclusively told the ECHO. “When he came, you don’t always need the big names, maybe it was a blessing not to get Caicedo for 100-odd million because I knew what a good player he is.

“He kept a struggling side together. I said all along, I think he will surprise a few people because he’s very disciplined, technically very gifted, two-footed, and an absolute team player.

“I’m not surprised at all. It took a few weeks or a few months to get into the rhythm, maybe to get used to the pace of the Premier League, but no, he hasn’t surprised me at all. He’s a class act.”

While Endo might not have surprised Hamann, Szoboszlai has - and in more ways than one. The German was taken aback by the Hungarian’s strong start to life at Anfield, and remains unconvinced by his £60m transfer fee.

Consequently, after seeing the midfielder’s loss of form during the second half of season, he is unsure how successful of a signing Szoboszlai has actually proven to be.

“It was surprising how well he started because, from my own experience, I know that it takes a few weeks and months to get used to the pace of the Premier League,” he said. “I was surprised how well he started.

“I thought it was a lot of money they paid for him. I think he’s a very capable player, but the jury is still out.

“As an offensive player, it’s always harder to get consistency. He’s had a few injuries as well in the second half of the season, and the jury is out regarding how good a buy he actually was.”

As a former Bayern Munich player himself, Hamann saw Gravenberch struggle in Bavaria last season before making the move to Anfield. Despite a mixed start on Merseyside, the German is convinced there is more to come from the Netherlands international - and hopes he gets the chance to prove himself under new manager Arne Slot.

“I think he’s probably having a bit more of an impact at Liverpool than he did at Bayern,” he said. “Then again, the competition for places might be a bit higher at Liverpool.

“Obviously, he’s got to start playing on a regular basis now and obviously start affecting the games. He’s been brought in to… he’s a big man, he’s got a bit of pace about him, he can finish.

“He has to set up goals and he has to score goals, because there have been times at Liverpool this season where they have needed a goal from somewhere. There have been times when he’s had a chance to make a name for himself but didn’t.

“It’s his first season, I hope he gets another season, but I think next season he has got to do better than he did this one.”

Hamann’s honest assessments of Liverpool have earned the wrath of Klopp in the past, with the two exchanging heated words through the media on more than one occasion.

But the former Reds midfielder insists he holds no hard feelings with the soon-to-be former Liverpool manager, and hopes to hold clear the air talks with Klopp the next time he sees him in person.

“I never had a problem with him,” he insisted. “I understand when I said something about the club or the team, it’s never personal.

“And I understand that he defends the team, the club, himself. It’s all fine because obviously it’s a high-pressure job.

“I’ve never had a problem with him, I still don’t, and if I do see him, I’ll have a chat with him if he agrees to it. No hard feelings, all good.”