Pep Lijnders reveals how he convinced Luis Diaz to join Liverpool in January amidst Tottenham Hotspur interest
The Reds wanted to sign him in the summer but apparently, interest from Antonio Conte’s side scared them into action. Liverpool coach Pep Lijnders, who has managed the senior side whenever Jurgen Klopp has been available, has given some additional details on that pursuit.
Reading the quotes from an excerpt from his new book ‘Intensity: Inside Liverpool FC – Our Identity’ (h/t Liverpool Echo), it becomes clear just how desperate the Reds got to land the 25-year-old during the winter window.
“I was on a skiing trip with my wife Danielle when, during dinner, our sporting director called me. You and Jurgen have to speak with Luis Diaz in five minutes. We’ve just agreed with Porto but Tottenham are all-in as well.”
He then went on to mention how he convinced Diaz into coming to Anfield by saying that he would get to train with some of the best defenders in the world. That would, in turn, make him a stronger player.
“The good thing is you will train with Virgil, Robbo and Trent and they will make you so much stronger. Our idea is to create and score; you will have to tear these guys apart each day in training, which will make you better.”
Julian Ward, the club’s sporting director, then added a bit of a dramatic effect. Apparently, it was enough to convince Diaz to snub Spurs and join the Reds instead.
“Julian [Ward] then walked with his phone to the trophy cabinet at AXA and finished with ‘we want to add to this and that’s why we want you’.”
Tottenham ended up signing Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur on deadline day of the January transfer window. The Swedish winger hit the ground running and was one of our best players in the closing stages of last season.
As for Diaz, he won the FA Cup and the League Cup final with Liverpool. Porto won the Primeira Liga title but Liverpool fell one point short in the Premier League title race.
He also started the UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid. Tottenham have managed to qualify for the competition for next season and would hope to take revenge from the Reds if they come face-to-face again.
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The two met in the UCL final back in 2019, where Spurs lost 2-0. Diaz and Kulusevski were still a couple of years away from joining their current sides back then but both of them are now expected to be one their main men going forward.