Liverpool’s signing of Kostas Tsimikas is the latest example of the Reds acquiring players with a bedrock of experience of winning titles in so-called “lesser” European Leagues.
The Greek, who has two Greek titles to his name, signed from Olympiacos last week to provide Jurgen Klopp with much-needed depth in the left-back position.
Whether directly or indirectly, the English Champions have recruited several players in the recent past who are used to winning and have represented the biggest clubs in the less-heralded championships of European Football.
Mohamed Salah, signed from Roma, won two Swiss titles with FC Basel; Sadio Mane has Austrian Bundesliga and Cup medals from his stint with Salzburg, likewise, Naby Keita, with two Austrian league and cup medals respectively, and Takumi Minamino, who needed a new wing added to his home to house his six Austrian League and four Cup medals.
Virgil van Dijk — signed after a pitstop in Southampton — boasts two Scottish league championship and a Scottish Cup medal from his spell with Celtic.
Xherdan Shaqiri has a personal medal haul that, stacked together, is probably taller than he is. The winger won three Swiss titles with Basel, as well as having filled his boots with silverware with FC Bayern in the Bundesliga.
Georginio Wijnaldum was part of teams who won the Dutch Cup, with both Feyenoord and PSV in the Netherlands, as well as a league title with the latter.
Fabinho was the midfield linchpin upon which Monaco built their surprise 2016/2017 Ligue 1 title victory, with the Brazilian — having made one appearance for Real Madrid — having played for the Los Blancos second team in the lower rungs of Spanish football prior to moving to France.
That’s not to mention James Milner, with the midfielder joining the Reds as a Premier League and F.A. Cup winner after signing from Manchester City, whose influence on the training ground and dressing-room is incalculable.
Even Marko Grujic, who, admittedly, has been on the periphery of the squad — in the times he was even at the club — won a Serbian title with Red Star Belgrade.
Klopp often uses the term “mentality monsters” to describe the collective psychological make-up of his squad and the fact the Reds boast a playing roster with such resolute characteristics is testament to job the club’s recruitment staff do in profiling prospective signings.
The easy part is assessing their footballing abilities, via the eye test or statistical data.
The difficult part is to see whether their personality fits with the dressing room culture at the club and if they can be part of the broader jigsaw and not a disruptive influence and throw their toys out of the pram when things aren’t going their way.
Liverpool are said to prioritize a “no dickheads” policy when targeting new players and demonstrably there appears to be no characters of the sort in their squad.
You very rarely see any of the Anfield clubs side taking to the media to air their grievances about Klopp, the club or the fact that they don’t play as often as they’d like.
Origi, Shaqiri or formerly Adam Lallana or Dejan Lovren have or had all spent long periods of time out of the team — even accounting for injuries — but never took the opportunity, even as much as Lallana and Lovren were talkative to journalists, to publicly rock the boat.
With so many winners at the club, there is clearly a collective nous at Anfield regarding what it takes to win leagues and the mentality required to thrive under the pressure of representing a big club with bigger expectations.
There are brilliant footballers all over the world — clearly, given Liverpool have recruited players who originated in or played part of their career in leagues that could be described as “off the beaten track” — but the Reds’ recruitment team, as headed by Michael Edwards, deserve huge kudos for signing not only the right players but also the right men.