Jurgen Klopp called his Liverpool team “easy to fall in love with” after watching them ease to a 5-1 win over Toulouse that puts them in complete control of their Europa League group.
Ryan Gravenberch was outstanding in midfield, creating one and scoring another, Diogo Jota got his eighth goal in seven in Europe’s second-tier competition, Wataru Endo opened his Liverpool account and there were also goals for Darwin Nunez and substitute Mo Salah.
But the night also demonstrated the depth in Liverpool’s squad as Klopp made eight changes from the 2-0 win over local rivals Everton, handing a full debut to teenager Luke Chambers while Calum Scanlon and James McConnell both made their bows off the bench.
Klopp had to conduct a significant rebuild of his side this summer after last season’s disappointments and the unexpected exits of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, but the early signs are promising with Liverpool three points off the top of the Premier League and firing on all fronts.
“I think it’s really easy to fall in love with this team,” Klopp said. “There is so much excitement in it. We have to make massive steps, we have to grow, we have to do a lot of things but a lot of the signs are really promising.
“How the team interacts with each other is really nice because when you talk about a rebuild of the team it’s all about the things you see on the pitch, obviously, but to see that there has to be a rebuild off the pitch as well and that’s going really well.”
Liverpool were not perfect on the night, allowing Thijs Dallinga to cancel out Jota’s early opener when their high line was exposed quarter of an hour in.
They also needed Trent Alexander-Arnold to block a Gabriel Souza shot on the line after a Caoimhin Kelleher mistake, but Klopp was more than happy with what he saw from a team featuring so many changes as others were kept in reserve for Sunday’s visit of Nottingham Forest.
“The result was good, the performance was good,” he said. “There were a lot of really good individual performances which is nice because it’s important for development. Besides the goal we conceded and the chance we gave them when Trent had his spectacular save around that it was everything we expected.”
The 21-year-old Gravenberch, a summer signing from Bayern Munich, was making back-to-back starts at club level for the first time in 18 months, and delivered a stand-out performance, regularly driving forward from midfield and proving a constant menace to Toulouse.
His goal may have come from what Klopp described as a “slapstick” moment – when Nunez rounded the goalkeeper only to hit his shot against the post with Gravenberch picking up the pieces – his performance certainly merited an appearance on the scoresheet.
“I really like him, as a boy, as a player, it’s really nice to see how much he starts believing in himself again,” Klopp said. “That’s obviously very important for a young player especially. There’s lot to improve on still which is good news because everybody sees the potential he has.”
Nunez left the pitch still kicking himself for his miss, but Klopp was delighted with the Uruguayan.
“(Darwin) played incredible,” he said. “Honestly in this moment I couldn’t care less than he hits the post because everything before was super convincing, how he took the defender away, how he went past the goalie it was a perfect situation.
“He played really good, the goal he scored, the situations he was in. He is in a good moment and for us that’s really important. I’m really pleased for him. Yes it’s a bit of slapstick when the ball doesn’t go in but Ryan puts it in and it’s cool.”