Behind the scenes of Liverpool’s Champions League training session - Van Dijk prank, Mane hints at future

The squad were in fine mood as Virgil van Dijk gatecrashed Jordan Henderson’s interview and Liverpool’s neuroscientists were put to work.
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Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool started their preparations for the Champions League final at the club’s AXA training centre in Kirkby this week.

Here’s some things you may have missed from behind the scenes at Wednesday’s seassion.

Neuroscience work continues

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On arrival, Kostas Tsimikas was already training but sporting some fancy tech on his head. It’s yet more work being undertaken at the training ground with neuroscientists from Nuero11.

The boffins have been credited with giving Liverpool the edge in penalty shootouts this season and Klopp’s men have already claimed the League Cup and FA Cup trophies by beating Chelsea on spot kicks.

Tsimikas, who scored the winning penalty in the FA Cup final, took the headgear off behind some mannequins before joining the rest of the team for their session.

As Klopp appeared alongside his team, he immediately made his way over to the two staff members who were originally working with Tsimikas.

Kostas Tsimikasis is put through his paces in training. John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty ImagesKostas Tsimikasis is put through his paces in training. John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Kostas Tsimikasis is put through his paces in training. John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
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The manager would go on to spend a while chatting and laughing with the men as the players warmed up.

No stone is left unturned at Kirkby and Klopp seems to appreciate the latest work being done.

The mood is great within the squad

Jordan Henderson spoke of how high morale is within the squad despite missing out on the Premier League title by one point on the final day of the season and it was clear to see within the open session.

The players started by celebrating Ibrahima Konate’s birthday in their usual way – clapping in a circle as each nationality within the squad sings happy birthday.

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As their warm-ups began, plenty of laughter could be heard. James Milner and Andy Robertson joked between each other as Virgil van Dijk instigated plenty of mirth.

At one stage, assistant fitness coach Jordan Fairclough slipped during a demonstration which brought more giggles amongst the squad.

Even afterwards, when the players spoke to the press, the spirits were high.

Van Dijk interrupted Henderson’s interview with one broadcaster by hitting him with a water bottle.

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Hendo didn’t react how he did when Joel Matip belted him in Milan during a goal celebration, but instead laughed it off.

If there are nerves within the squad, they weren’t on show on Wednesday.

Mane hints at his future amidst Bayern links

Many Liverpool players are out of contract next summer including Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Salah.

However, another man in that bracket in Sadio Mane, and he gave an update on his future.

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"That’s an interesting question," he said after being quizzed about links to Bayern Munich.

"For now I’m very focused on the Champions League (final). Ask me again after the game and you’ll get an answer."

An interesting response lacking a total rebuttal.

League title disappointment is dealt with

After failing to overcome Manchester City on the final day, Liverpool’s squad were obviously disappointed.

The talk is if they can use that as extra motivation in the game on Saturday, but skipper Henderson disagrees.

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He told reporters that the players were given a day off on Monday to "get it out" of their systems but denied they need to use it.

"It’s a Champions League final, you don’t need extra motivation to play in that," the skipper said.

He’s not wrong, but with the title heartbreak and memories of defeat in 2018 final in Kiev against Real Madrid, there’s no shortage of reason for the Reds to be on top form on Saturday.