Liverpool confirm arrival as 'best signing of season' replaced by Arne Slot

Assistant coach Aaron Briggs of VfL Wolfsburg poses during the team presentation at Wolfsburg's training ground on September 20, 2023 in Wolfsburg, Germany.
-Credit: (Image: Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images)

The appointment of Aaron Briggs at Liverpool will look to continue the work of a role that was growing increasingly important thanks to Vitor Matos.

Briggs was confirmed as the latest member of Arne Slot's backroom team at Anfield on Thursday with the 37-year-old now set to take up a position on the staff as first-team individual development coach.

He joins assistant manager Sipke Hulshoff and performance coach Ruben Peeters as Slot's right-hand men, while goalkeeper specialist Fabian Otte is set to join once his end-of-season break is over after United States' exit from the Copa America.

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Former Dutch international John Heitinga is also in the frame to complete the new-look staff, with the ex-Everton centre-back confirming he was in talks with the club earlier this week.

Briggs joins having most recently worked as assistant coach at Bundesliga side Wolfsburg and he has previously occupied positions at Blackpool, Preston North End and Monaco. He also served as a consultant to European football's governing body UEFA earlier this year.

It is his near decade-long stint with Manchester City, however, that might most pique the interest. Briggs worked in a variety of roles across the club from senior first-team performance analyst to assistant coach and head of performance analysis for the academy and women's teams. He is also cited as being the lead academy performance analyst there between 2015 and 2017.

Clearly, then, Briggs comes with a wealth of experience at the top level and he will be aiming to follow the path walked by Portuguese coach Matos at Anfield where he operated as elite-development coach and became informally known as the 'connector' between Liverpool's Academy and senior ranks.

Matos's work enabled many young hopefuls to get the chance to display their capabilities to Jurgen Klopp in recent years with plenty taking their chance once they were in front of the then Reds boss.

It was former assistant boss Pep Lijnders who first coined the phrase when discussing Matos and his influence with the Dutchman saying: "For me, he is our best signing this season," the Dutchman said of Matos. He is a talented coach, a very intelligent coach.

"He can make the next step with all these young players. We have already seen the impact he has made on them. Having one really intelligent, talented coach for young players, he can inspire eight or nine of them – it's really important to have the right people in front of them – he connects, he influences the boys on the pitch and trains with them.

"He connects departments, he connects our Academy, Alex [Inglethorpe] and Critch (Neil Critchley), with each other. He connects me and Jurgen, of course. He connects Julian Ward and Michael Edwards. He's basically the connector of these three parts of the club. He is good. We are really happy he is here."

At a time when Liverpool's Academy scene is thriving and more than a dozen earned first-team minutes last term, Briggs will be keen to build on the impressive foundations already put in place. The links between the two setups have hardly been closer.

Ben Doak, Jarell Quansah, Conor Bradley, Kaide Gordon, Calum Scanlon, Callum Chambers, Caoimhin Kelleher, Stefan Bajcetic Jayden Danns, Lewis Koumas and James McConnell were all given appearances at various points last term as the Reds dug deep into their junior resources, particularly around late February when a remarkable injury crisis stood at 13 players sidelined.

The trust placed in those younger players was developed through their sessions with the senior team throughout the campaign and it has been one of the major benefits of the move from Melwood to the £50m AXA Training Centre in Kirkby.

With all the team now essentially on the same base, it makes the logistics of ad-hoc call-ups much easier to execute, theoretically giving more players the chance to showcase their stuff to Klopp, and now new head coach Arne Slot.

With Feyenoord's reputation as something of a selling club across Europe - which was something Slot referenced in his Friday press conference - it's likely he was having to regularly dip into the well of youth prospects while in charge at De Kuip.

Such a strategy won't strictly be as necessary this time around but Briggs will still be tasked with making sure the new Reds coach is kept fully in the loop as to the talent that is emerging at Academy level.