Alberto Moreno says he is now “in one of my best moments as a footballer” because Jurgen Klopp trusts him.
Moreno has started 23 of a possible 26 Premier League games since Klopp was appointed Liverpool manager in October, with the Spaniard becoming the club’s first-choice left-back after a difficult start to life at Anfield.
The 23-year-old struggled at times in his first season after joining the club in summer 2014, with his positioning and defensive instincts questioned after numerous mistakes.
Moreno then failed to start each of the club’s first five league games of the season under former manager Rodgers, with teenager Joe Gomez, a centre-half by trade, trusted in the former Sevilla defender’s stead.
Speaking ahead of the club’s Europa League semi-final first-leg tie at Villarreal on Thursday, Moreno said that his improvement in form has been down to a manager who trusts him.
“It was hard at first with Brendan,” Moreno said. “He didn’t seem to count on me much. I trained, I was 100% and didn’t play much. But that’s now in the past.
“Working with Mr Klopp, he’s put his trust in me and now I’m in one of my best moments as a footballer.”
Liverpool avoided Moreno’s former club and two-time Europa League holders Sevilla in the draw for the semi-final, but the defender is concentrated on winning the tournament, not impressing his former side.
“I didn’t celebrate anything,” he insisted. “It’s nothing but a rival we have to beat. I’d love to meet them in the final, rather than semi-final.
“2014 was a very special year for me winning that trophy, as it was my first year as a professional. Not only for me but for any footballer silverware is the best thing. To win the Europa League was a great feeling.
“As for this year, I like to take it step by step, and see what happens. I don’t like to look too far ahead.”
On claims that Liverpool will be favourites against Villarreal, who sit fourth in La Liga, Moreno added: “I don’t like to fancy ourselves as favourites.
“This is a semi-final, four teams, all of them could be considered favourites. We know it is going to be hard. Any team could win and we hope to come out on top.”