Jurgen Klopp has teased every Liverpool fan in existence by describing Mario Gotze as a “world-class footballer”.
Klopp handed Gotze his debut at Dortmund in 2009, and managed the forward up until his departure for Bayern Munich in 2013.
The Liverpool boss was linked with a move for his former player for much of last year and part of this, but it was revealed in September just why Klopp eventually rejected the move.
Gotze instead rejoined Dortmund from Bayern last summer, but has found it difficult to replicate his previous form at the Westfalenstadion.
“He picked up injuries often enough at unfavourable times and overall has not rediscovered his rhythm,” Klopp told Bild.
“The world-class footballer in him still lies dormant. It’s like cycling – you can’t unlearn it.”
Klopp then discussed Dortmund’s bitter rivals Schalke, whose sporting executive, Christian Heidel, gave the German his first chance in management at Mainz.
“A horror start like that can turn into an advantage for Schalke in the end,” he said, with the club just five points above the Bundesliga’s relegation zone at the winter break.
“To stay calm during such a period is maybe Schalke’s biggest achievement in recent years. That was really good.
“Everything will be fine there in the end. They’ve got a good team, a clear plan, a top coach, a top sporting director and unbelievably passionate fans.”
He added: “Schalke are a bit like Liverpool. If you haven’t won the title in such a long time, it does not mean that you must win it, but the pressure grows, and the desire too.”