Klopp makes Messi admission as he hails Phillips’ Liverpool debut

Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Nat Phillips after a successful Premier League debut for Liverpool against West Ham.

He was especially fond of his no-nonsense style – something he joked would not draw him any comparisons with Lionel Messi.

It comes after Phillips won the man of the match award against West Ham.

The 23-year-old was drafted in from the reserves with Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho out injured.

There were question marks over whether Rhys Williams, who has impressed as a youngster, or Jordan Henderson would play.

But Klopp surprised everyone by naming Phillips – who was on the brink of being sold by Liverpool in the transfer window.

Instead, the Bolton-born defender put in an exceptional display as the Reds ran out 2-1 winners over West Ham.

And Klopp was most impressed by his ability to defend rather than any party tricks.

“The story behind him makes it even more incredible,” said the Reds boss.

“I’m really pleased for him, he deserves it more than anybody.

"He's a brilliant guy, smart guy, intelligent, everything. He knows everything about himself as a footballer.

“He kept it really simple tonight, which was important for us.

“He's not easy on the eye, he's not Messi but who cares? In the air, he's a monster! He was incredible.

“He was vocal on the pitch and spoke really well, he made the challenges, he was there and was aggressive.

"He maybe gave away one foul and played a really good game.”

Jamie Carragher was also full of praise for Phillips, comparing one moment to Van Dijk.

He said: "It was what he did aerially. What Fabinho and [Joe] Gomez lack is domination aerially.

"When you play against some teams, not necessarily the top teams, but many teams will look to set pieces, direct balls, crosses into the box, second balls.

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"Liverpool didn't deal with that at all against Sheffield United, and that's what caused them big problems.

"But today, that header at the end from a corner, one of the last kicks of the game, to be the leader and make sure you get your head on it, normally that would be Van Dijk's role.

"That was a vital header, and it won Liverpool the game really."

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