New Liverpool signing Ragnar Klavan 'a real role model' - Estonia boss
Liverpool have signed a consummate professional in defender Ragnar Klavan, Estonia boss Magnus Pehrsson has told ESPN FC.
Klavan, 30, joined the Reds on Wednesday from Bundesliga side Augsburg for €5 million plus add-ons to provide much-needed depth in the heart of Liverpool's defence.
Liverpool manager Klopp is likely to favour Dejan Lovren, fellow new signing Joel Matip, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez in that position, but with the latter two missing the start of the season with injury, the Estonia captain could be required immediately, and Pehrsson is confident he can make the step up.
"I think he has most of what you ask from a central defender -- he is calm with the ball, he can build up well, he's fast, he's good in the air, he can tackle," Estonia boss Pehrsson told ESPN FC. "I think he's a complete defender."
With Kolo Toure departing the club this summer after his contract expired, Klavan is seen as the ideal replacement for the Ivorian, who was a popular figure around the Liverpool dressing room.
"From the players I have worked with in my career, he's the most professional I have worked with, in terms of taking care of himself and really trying develop himself day by day," the Swedish boss, who took charge of the Estonian national side in 2013, said.
"He's a real role model. This is my third year with him now and I don't see any difference at all. I think he has developed in these three years. He has always been a good athlete -- he is strong and fast. By playing more at a good level in the Bundesliga, I think he has developed with his positioning on the pitch, and that together with being a fast player, I see him carrying on six, seven years without any problems.
"He does most of the things you like players to do. He's always doing preparation in the gym before training sessions, he takes care of himself afterwards, very aware of what he eats and how to recover between games. I know he's been working to train his brain on how to stay focused on the task during the games.
"His motto since he became a professional player in Estonia is that he should never reject anything, and he really takes advantage of the talent he has."
The three-time Estonia Player of the Year is captain of his country, and evidently prefers to let his attitude do the talking.
"I'd say that he's not really a vocal leader," Pehrsson added. "He's a leader in Estonia because he's a great role model in how he trains, how he plays, how he takes care of himself. He's more a leader by action than by words, I'd say.
"With the national team, he is sharp and focused when we are training. He is doing his work. He is always very concerned how to deliver what's asked from him in his position. You always get what you want."
Klavan's move to the Premier League sees him achieve a long-held ambition to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Mart Poom -- the former Derby County, Sunderland and Arsenal goalkeeper -- and Pehrsson is confident that the defender will be a success at Anfield.
"It's fantastic," Pehrsson said. "He said to me, and also mentioned in the media, that the next step after the Bundesliga was he really wanted to come to the Premier League. Now he is there with one of the biggest clubs in the world really. It's fantastic for him and now it's up to him to show that he belongs there -- I'm positive he will.
"With stronger players, it's more demanding to play in the Premier League than Bundesliga but, on the other hand, you can say that the Bundesliga is more about transition and so on. I think it will take some time adapt to the Premier League. But if you look at his qualities, then I'm pretty sure that he will do well in a team like Liverpool that likes possession and be calm with the ball to build up -- he can do that very well."
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.