Where are they now? Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool that beat Villarreal in 2016
Liverpool’s upcoming Champions League semi-final with Villarreal will not be the first time the two clubs have met in the latter stages of European competition.
The two faced off in the sem-finals of the 2015-16 Europa League, with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool coming out on top in a 3-1 aggregate win.
A 3-0 victory at Anfield secured the Reds’ passage through to the final – where they would lose to Unai Emery’s Sevilla – and we’ve taken a look at where the players who featured in that game are now, almost six years on.
GK: Simon Mignolet
The Belgian goalkeeper was very much the No.1 at Liverpool when Klopp arrived.
Mignolet, though occasionally error-prone, was generally a steady pair of hands and helped his side past Villarreal without conceding a goal in the crucial second leg.
The arrival of Loris Karius saw Mignolet take a back seat, before the signing of Alisson in 2018 left him surplus to requirements entirely.
The 34-year-old departed for Club Brugge and is still playing for the Belgian outfit in the 2021-22 season.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne
A player who appeared to have a bright future at Liverpool under Klopp, Clyne’s performance levels gradually dropped off after repeated injuries. He was surpassed by academy product Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Clyne initially left for Bournemouth on loan in 2019, before joining Crystal Palace early in the 2020-21 season.
The England international has made 11 Premier League appearances for the Eagles this term.
CB: Dejan Lovren
Lovren was a regular in defence for Liverpool in Klopp’s early years, but the arrivals of the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip saw him eventually drift into the periphery.
In the summer of 2020, the Croatian left for Zenit, winning the Russian Premier League title in his first season with the club.
CB: Kolo Toure
The man whose name inspired an iconic chant, Toure was something of a cult hero at Liverpool.
He was in the latter stages of his career during his time at Anfield, but still good enough to keep a clean sheet against Villarreal.
The Ivorian followed Brendan Rodgers to Celtic in 2016, before retiring and going into coaching. He is now a first-team coach at Leicester, continuing his collaboration with Rodgers.
LB: Alberto Moreno
Moreno’s attacking intent from left-back was always an asset for Liverpool during his time at the club, but defensive question marks meant he was soon replaced by the effervescent Andy Robertson.
The Spaniard, ironically, left for Villarreal in 2019, although he is currently out with an injury and won’t feature against his former club in the Champions League semi-finals.
CM: Emre Can
Can seemed a likely contender to thrive under Klopp, given his energy in midfield and ability to press for 90 minutes.
He certainly played his part for a period, though he eventually fell out of favour and left for Juventus in 2018, winning two Serie A titles during two years with the Italian giants before moving on to Borussia Dortmund, where he is now a regular.
CM: James Milner
Indefatigable and apparently ageless, Milner is still going strong for Liverpool at 36. One of the few players remaining from the 2016 side, he remains a usefull squad player even now.
The versatile midfielder’s longevity is impressive and he clearly has plenty of admirers at Anfield.
Though Liverpool have gradually strengthened their squad over recent transfer windows, don’t be surprised if Milner still has a part to play in the remaining weeks of this season.
RW: Adam Lallana
Another player who performed admirably at Liverpool, even as he fell down the pecking order, Lallana scored his side’s third goal in the win over Villarreal.
The former Southampton man remained on Merseyside until 2020, when he left for Brighton in search of more regular playing time.
CAM: Roberto Firmino (Christian Benteke, ’89)
Firmino, of course, is still a big player for Liverpool, though he has taken more of a back seat following the signings of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.
But Firmino remains in Klopp’s rotation of forwards, and if anything is benefitting from the added competition. At one point it seemed as if he was playing too often, relied upon to always be the focal point in attack.
The Brazilian has scored 11 goals so far in 2021-22, five of which have come in the Champions League.
Benteke left Liverpool in the summer of 2016 after just one season, joining Crystal Palace where he is now in his sixth season.
LW: Philippe Coutinho (Joe Allen, ’82)
Liverpool’s most expensive ever sale, Coutinho left for Barcelona in 2018 for an eventual fee of £142m.
At the time, it seemed like a huge loss for Klopp’s team, but the money was spent wisely and the Reds went from strength to strength.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for Coutinho, who struggled to make an impact at Barcelona.
He fared better during a loan spell at Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 season, but his stock has since fallen further and he is now on loan at Aston Villa, managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
Allen was in his final season with Liverpool, leaving for Stoke in the summer. The Welshman stayed with the Potters despite their relegation from the Premier League and is now the club captain.
ST: Daniel Sturridge (Lucas Leiva, ’90+2)
The last remaining part of the SAS strike partnership after Luis Suarez’s exit, Sturridge never really again reached the standards of his exceptional 2013-14 season.
He netted in the Villarreal semi-final, but he was increasingly phased out of the starting XI by Klopp and left on loan to West Brom in January 2018.
After a brief return to Anfield, Sturridge joined Turkish side Trabzonspor in 2019 and is now enjoying the sun while playing for Perth Glory in Australia.
Lucas, after a reliable and impressive decade at Anfield, left Liverpool for Lazio in 2017 and has gone on to make over 150 appearances for the Italian side.