After Henderson's exit, Klopp has plenty of options for new Liverpool captain
The German says he's already made a decision but has yet to inform the players
There is set to be a change of guard in the Liverpool FC ranks.
Relax Pool fans, enigmatic manager Jurgen Klopp is going nowhere. But he does have an important decision to make on who captains the side for the upcoming 2023/24 season.
The recent departures of captain Jordan Henderson (to Al Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia) and vice-captain James Milner (Brighton) have left a leadership void at Liverpool, though there are some clear and obvious candidates to step up for the role.
One of whom is centre-half Virgil van Dijk, who has served as third-choice behind Henderson and Milner in recent years.
The Dutchman was asked about taking on the armband as soon as he sat down at a press conference at the National Stadium last night (July 29), ahead of the Reds' friendly with Leicester here on Sunday (July 30).
"On the captaincy, nothing has been announced yet, so I can't say much about it," said the 32-year-old defender, who is also the current skipper of the Netherlands team.
"It's always a proud moment when I've done it previously… I see leaders in the team, we have players who can take on and accept the responsibility. They just have to step up now.”
While van Dijk may be the favourite for the role, Liverpool are not short of candidates. Left-back Andy Robertson, who led the team out of the dugout twice last season, currently leads a buoyant Scotland national team, while star striker Mo Salah has led Egypt for several years now.
Another player in the mix is Liverpool-born academy product Trent Alexander-Arnold. The right-back has played an increasingly important role at the club and is a key player in Klopp’s tactical set-up as he oscillates between defence and central midfield.
Klopp was mum about his thoughts on the matter, though he did admit that he’s made his mind up on the matter
“I already know my decision; I just have to tell the players and the public,” he told the media room.
“It’s an important decision to make, but what’s more important is the general leadership within the group (of players). The leaders (in the dressing room) are also there on their own, they weren’t selected to be there, and that’s how it should be at a club.
“Nobody has to be the next James Milner or Jordan Henderson. They can just be themselves."
“But to be honest, a few weeks ago, I didn’t expect I’d have to do this,” he added, referring to Henderson’s decision to leave Anfield and link up with Reds legend Steven Gerrard in Saudi Arabia.
Henderson had been named captain in 2015, three months before Klopp’s arrival to Merseyside.
"Was I surprised when Henderson said he wanted to move on? Of course. But I knew exactly what the situation was, and I respected his decision.
“I’ve heard him talk about his time at the club recently, and what he said about all of us – that’s how you want it to be when you leave your friends and they say such good things about you.”
Van Dijk is likely to lead Liverpool out of the National Stadium tunnel on Sunday against Leicester. What’s also likely is that, given the absence of midfielder Fabinho, Alexander-Arnold is deployed in the holding midfielder position.
Singapore’s legion of Reds supporters can also look forward to watching new signing Dominik Szoboszlai in action for the first time in Liverpool colours.
The former Red Bull Lepizig star appears to have recovered from an ankle injury after sitting out of the team's last pre-season friendly.