Jurgen Klopp never had any doubt that Sadio Mane was “an outstanding player”, but claims to have had to convince the Liverpool forward of that fact.
The Reds invested £34 million ($44m) in the Senegal international back in 2016 after seeing him star in the Premier League for Southampton.
Mane has taken his game to even greater heights at Anfield, netting 40 times in 87 appearances while forming part of a fearsome attacking unit alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
There have been testing times for the 26-year-old as well, but Klopp is delighted with the impact made on Merseyside by a versatile performer who did not always believe in his own ability.
“Since he came in he helped the team so much, he improved so much. He is an outstanding offensive player.
“If you ask me if he is a striker, yes, from time to time; is he a midfielder, yes, from time to time; he can probably play a slightly deeper position as well – we don’t have to play him there because we have other players there but he could play it as well.
“He is physically strong, technically strong, he is unbelievably quick, he is quick in mind as well, and he is a good shooter with both feet. That makes a good player and he is a fantastic person.
“He needed more confidence when he came in, the start was really good but I think he was a bit surprised by himself. Everything was good until the first time his shape dropped a little bit and then he struggled a bit with that, because he needed to get used to that he is a world-class player.
“Now, he knows that much better. That helps us. He is a really good player.”
Mane, who found the target 20 times in all competitions last season, has recorded seven goals in 14 appearances this term.
Those efforts have helped Liverpool to make an unbeaten start to their 2018-19 Premier League, while also pushing for a place in the last-16 of the Champions League.