Jurgen Klopp says he “cant’ understand” why Celtic let Andy Robertson go as a youngster.
Extolling the virtues of the left back, who he rates as “maybe the best Scot [at Anfield] since Kenny Dalglish”, Klopp insists he can’t get his head around Celtic’s decision, taken when Robertson was just 15.
Speaking in the Sunday Mail, Klopp says: “He said: “It’s so difficult to understand when you look at him now that anyone could ever have let him go.
“Left-back is such an important position and I don’t think in Scotland they have 500 of them, do they? So it’s hard to imagine how you can give up on a boy like this.
“It cannot be his personality or character. It cannot be his speed because he was always quick.”
Klopp reveals that he was a fan of Robertson when he was at Dundee United and Hull City.
He continued: “It cannot be the quality of his left foot because it was always brilliant when he played for Hull and when I saw him play for Dundee United.
“So a left-back with speed,quality and character? You have to keep him and work with him.”
All of which begs the question, what took Liverpool so long to be convinced to sign him?
Maybe he answers his own question when he says: ” Yes, he had to improve his defending when he came here but he did it because he has a big heart.”
Robertson is obviously one that got away from Celtic. The player has suggested he was rejected for being “too small”, but Kieran Tierney wasn’t exactly a towering presence when he broke into the Celtic first team. Whether there was a big difference in height at their respective ages may be one thing, but they’ve both ended up being 5’10” tall.
Sometimes, though, players slip through the net. It has to be considered that maybe it wasn’t just Celtic who weren’t convinced at that point. Why was it Queen’s Park that signed Robertson and not a top tier side in Scotland? To his credit, Robertson says that the rejection gave him the impetus to push on.
And, despite Klopp being a fan of Robertson at Dundee United and Hull, Martin Greig in this BBC report reveals that Liverpool had compiled a “season’s worth of scouting reports on Robertson before making their move”.
Hull’s scout, in contrast, insisted the club sign him after watching him play just one and a half games for the Tangerines.
Liverpool, quite evidently, have a pretty impressive scouting set-up, but if there’s a flaw, looking at it from the outside, is that it might give other teams the chance to steal a march on them.
Football, as the cliche goes, is a funny old game. If Robertson had stayed, would he have got into the team ahead of Emilio Izagguire (at that time) or later, would he have kept an emerging Tierney out of the side?
We won’t ever know. Importantly, though, the player at 15 isn’t the player he’s going to be in his twenties. Some incredibly talented youngsters have failed to go on and make an impact. Islam Feruz, at 24 and on loan at Swindon and already appearing every inch a journeyman, being a prime example.
Others, such as Robertson, just take longer to emerge.
It’s why Celtic could sign a 21-year-old Virgil Van Dijk for relative buttons, with little competition for his signature, a player who would go on to be rated as one of the best on the planet.
Maybe Liverpool were busy compiling a year’s worth of reports on a player that they would end up spending £75m on…