Dirk Kuyt: ‘I COULD RUN A BIT BUT I’M JEALOUS OF LUIS DIAZ’S LUNGS’
Dirk Kuyt assesses Luis Diaz’s sensational start to his Liverpool career
I could run a fair bit when I was a player, but I must admit I’m jealous of Luis Diaz’s lungs. His stamina is amazing.
It looks like it’s in his veins to press, so it’s no surprise to see why he’s adapted to Jürgen Klopp’s system so quickly.
And you must remember he came to Liverpool halfway through the season, doesn’t speak the native language and dropped in a system that has, understandably, taken other players a bit of time to get to grips with.
I remember when I came to the Premier League from Feyenoord in 2006. I lost six kilos of weight because it was so intense and every three days you were playing a high-intensity game. You just needed to work really hard to adapt.
It took me six months to a year just to completely adapt to a new country, a new competition and get adjusted to everything else.
What I’ve seen from Diaz’s first few months, it looks so easy for him. What he’s doing at the moment is pretty special.
In addition to his fitness levels, his ability is incredible. He’s now scoring important goals, giving great assists. When you see him dribbling with the ball, it seems he still has the whole view of the pitch – to see other players and give easy passes.
The exciting thing: I think he can get better and better.
His arrival has obviously boosted Klopp’s forward options, and then some. But that’s what you need when you want to challenge for so many trophies.
Now the gaffer has the opportunity to look at the opponent, look at their weaknesses and pick the best players for that specific game.
It looks like everyone is accepting that at the moment. They understand why they may get substituted off in games for extra rest and understand if they want to achieve something, they need each other.
My message to this squad: Enjoy it
The situation these Liverpool players find themselves in is the stuff of dreams.
It’s a packed fixture list, yes, but it’s exactly what you want. You don’t really want to stop if you’re playing loads of important games.
At the moment for these players it’s just focus on the game, recover and focus on the next game – that keeps the momentum going. That’s how I liked it as a player.
I always tried to remember something Marco van Basten told me when I made my debut for the Dutch national team: you play so many big games and you just sometimes forget to enjoy them.
These Liverpool players should savour this period because it’s just a part of your life and before you know it, it’s over.
These are very special games and you don’t play many of these in your life.
I can’t wait to watch on Sunday
When I was with all the lads for the recent Liverpool FC Legends game, most of the conversations we had were about Liverpool and Manchester City, and Sunday’s game in particular.
If you’re not of a Liverpool persuasion, I think a few people are saying City is a little bit the favourite because they’re playing at home. But I think this Liverpool team is stronger than ever.
There’ll be a lot of players knocking on the door of Klopp just to play in this one.
As I’ve put in this column before, concentration and focus are so important in games like these – and imagination, as Louis van Gaal always used to say.
In the build-up, when you’re walking on the street or around the training ground, everyone is trying to help you and give you positive feelings and vibes to be ready.
But as a player, you just need to be focused and trust in the qualities of yourself, but also trust in the qualities of the team. Liverpool are doing so well at the moment, so hopefully they can take that form and focus into this game – I don’t really have any concerns about that, though.
No doubt about it, it’s a massive one in the title race. However, there’s still loads of games coming up. For me, it’s a very interesting game and an important one, but not the final game because there’s many more to play. And in the Premier League, you don’t win your games easily.
That said, I think it will be a very hard knock to the face of City if Liverpool manages to leave the Etihad Stadium with three points.
@jackmacd12: Who would you compare yourself to most in this current Liverpool squad?
That’s a difficult one. I would really love to play in the system of Jürgen Klopp but, as I’ve said before, I don’t think I could compare myself to Mane or Salah – they have so much more quality. Maybe we can compare stamina-wise to Diaz, but I think he’s quicker and his ability on the ball is unbelievable. If you compared me with him, I’d be quite happy with that!
@Oliver_Emmerson: Realistically, if you could have added one player to that 2008-09 Liverpool team to get them ahead of Manchester United, who would it have been?
I think if we would drop the Mohamed Salah of now in that team we’d have probably won the league. From that era, though, Lionel Messi would have done alright!