Liverpool's new leadership group explained

Liverpool have a new captain for the first time since 2015.

Virgil van Dijk is the man appointed to take over from Jordan Henderson as the Reds' tenth skipper of the Premier League era.

With the club also waving goodbye to James Milner this summer, Trent Alexander-Arnold has stepped up to become the new vice.

Speaking about his new on-pitch leaders, Jurgen Klopp said, via "Virg has everything to wish for to be a captain of a football club. Number one, he's probably, let me have a think, definitely the best-looking captain in the Premier League, which is important for team pictures! But, of course, personality-wise everything is there.

"He wants to be a leader, he is a leader. He has to step up, like all of us have to step up because we were used to things how they always were and now we have to create something new – a new structure, a new culture – and that's really exciting.

"The vice-captaincy, I just think Trent is ready. He is our Scouser, he is playing for me pretty much since the beginning, if not then half a year later he was with us. He improved, he developed as a player and as a person massively.

"I wanted him to be in that role, we spoke about it and he was more than happy to take it because, again, it's important that the boys understand the work behind the honour, let me say it like that. I think it's a really good decision. Not all my decisions I am always happy with afterwards but with this one I know I will be."

Klopp also confirmed a new leadership group within the senior men's team, with all five members having a "massive role" and "different characteristics".

But who are they?

Virgil van Dijk (Captain)

The Dutchman is now Liverpool men's team's official captain, and was an obvious choice for Klopp.

Van Dijk also wears the armband for the Netherlands national team and has skippered Liverpool 42 times previously, when Henderson and Milner have been absent.

At 32, he is also the second-oldest outfield player at Anfield (after Thiago, also 32) and is the fifth-longest serving current squad member.

Speaking about his new role, Van Dijk said: “[It’s] a really proud day for me, for my wife, for my kids, my family. It’s been a special feeling and I can’t really describe it at this point. But it’s something that I’m really, really proud of.

“Obviously I’m captain of Holland, that was already such a huge honour, a proud moment as well. But also to be the captain of Liverpool Football Club is something that I can’t describe at this point."

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Vice-Captain)

The 'Scouser in the team' has been given the vice-captaincy, with Klopp hailing the full back's development in recent years, as well as his connection to the club and city's culture.

Klopp said: "He's not only representing that slightly younger generation, he's representing everything about this club, knowing every person in this club, knowing every driver in the club, knowing really everything – and I think this is really important."

Alexander-Arnold has captained Liverpool on once occasion before, for the Champions League group stage draw against FC Midtjylland back in 2020.

Speaking about his new responsibility, he said: "I feel ready. I feel like I’ve been a leader and I lead by example with the things I do on a daily basis. The lads see me as someone in a leadership role, I’m happy the manager and staff see that too. I want to make sure I take responsibility for what I do and how the team performs as well.

"I’ve put in a lot of hard work up until this moment to reach these kinds of milestones. I’ve never been shy about what my ambitions are… to captain this club. This is a pathway and a stepping stone to that. It’s a role and responsibility I’m looking forward to and I can’t wait to get the season started."

Andy Robertson (Third-Captain)

© Proshots - Andy Robertson

The third member of the leadership group, and effective third-captain, is Robertson, who also leads the Scotland national team.

The left back has also worn the armband for Liverpool twice in the 2022/23 FA Cup.

On his role within the team, Klopp said: "I think Robbo is the one you cannot miss out in a leadership group because he's a natural leader.

"Robbo has a few attributes Millie brought into the team, so like his discipline is really important to him and these kind of things. And he's the skipper of Scotland, so he knows how to deal with different situations. Because [when] we are all running and it's all flying then nobody needs [the] leadership group. We need that in the moments when it's not 100 per cent how we want it.

"I think with all his characteristics he's perfect for a very important role in the team and as well I hope he understands what it means from our side, from the coaching staff, that we really see him in a super-important position in this team."

Alisson (Leadership Group)

Liverpool's number one is the fourth confirmed member of the group, but is unlikely to actually wear the armband, barring some extreme injury crisis or heavy rotation.

However, Klopp stressed the Brazilian's influence in the dressing room, calling him a 'natural leader'.

He said: "Ali in the dressing room is really, really important because he's calm. If Ali says something, everybody is listening, so that's important from a captaincy point of view. I had goalkeepers as captains in the past – on the pitch, it's not great; off the pitch, super-important. So that's because on the pitch it's just too far away for a lot of things and these kind of things. But Ali is a natural leader, so we need him in that group as well."

The Brazil keeper has previously captained Liverpool twice, in the Champions League group stages back in 2021.

Mohamed Salah (Leadership Group)

© Proshots - Mohamed Salah

Like with Alisson, Salah – who is the only player not already a member of the leadership group before this summer – now has a role that confirms his status in the squad and allows him to lead by example.

"I think for all the duties a Liverpool captain has to do, I think the first three [Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson] suit better to them," Klopp said. "And then the other two [Salah and Alisson] can be what they are and always were and can be themselves, help the team in the best possible way and push the team in the best possible way but stay themselves because that's the player we signed, that's the player we love and that's the player we need."

On Salah's personal qualities, the Liverpool boss added: "Mo, captain of Egypt, one of the best players to ever play for this club. But strikers are different, strikers have to be different – we all benefit from that. So we need him as a role model, we need Mo as the one who leads the line, if you want, who is the first to press, who's the first to all these things on the pitch.

"And off the pitch, he's smart, everybody loves him, everybody wants to have him around, so for us he's super, super-important."

Salah has never captained Liverpool before, but revealed his disappointment at being overlooked for the honour back in 2020, when Alexander-Arnold was given the honour against FC Midtjylland.

"Honestly, I was very disappointed. I was hoping to be the captain, but it's a coach's decision. I accept it," Liverpool's top scorer in Premier League history told AS.

Klopp later revealed his 'mistake', insisting he hadn't thought about the decision and intended to give it to the longest-serving player for the one-off occasion.

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