Liverpool's first full season under Jurgen Klopp's management began with a huge sense of anticipation.

The German had only arrived the previous October and had immediately lifted the mood of despondency around the club which had lingered after the 2014 title near-miss.

Doubters were already starting to become believers as the new boss took Liverpool to two cup finals within his first six months in charge.

Both however resulted in defeat, the defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final in Basel meaning Liverpool would not be playing any European football in 2016/17.

There was an argument that may actually benefit the new manager as he aimed to mould his squad towards his vision but it also increased the pressure to ensure a top four finish and return to the Champions League for the following campaign.

Michael Edwards and Jurgen Klopp.jpg 

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A £60m summer transfer kitty enabled Klopp bring in three of the players who would go on to play key roles in the Reds rise to the top of the domestic, European and world game but, lurking in the background, were the first rumblings of the continued issue which had stymied progress over the previous half a dozen or so years - the threat of the club's best talent leaving in search of honours.

The previous two summers had seen Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez depart for Manchester City and Barcelona respectively, and memories were still fresh of the likes of Torres and Mascherano also leaving 'to further their ambitions'.

By the summer of 2016, Philippe Coutinho had been at Anfield for three and a half seasons and had blossomed how the club hoped he would when a mere £8m was sent Inter Milan's way in January 2013.

He played a key role as the 2014 title bid wore on and kicked on as the Klopp era began, scoring in the League Cup final at Wembley and notching a sublime strike at Old Trafford as Liverpool knocked Manchester United out of Europe en route to Switzerland.

He was still only 24 that summer but had no medals to show for his efforts at Anfield so far and speculation during the summer started to suggest he could be the latest Liverpool star to flee the nest.

After banging home a hat-trick for Brazil in their 7-1 hammering of Haiti in the Copa America that June, Coutinho addressed rumours that Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain were both interested in him and he certainly didn't put them to bed.

“As far as I know, there’s no offer”, Coutinho said.

“I’m here with the national team, this subject is for my representatives.

"More important for me is to be here, focused on the national team and having a good tournament.

"That’s where my head is."

By the end of that month whatever concerns the Brazilian may have had about the future direction of his club would have been slightly eased by the first real landmark signing of the Klopp era.

Having scored three goals against the Reds in two games the previous season (and also being sent off late on at Anfield), Senegal forward Sadio Mane signed from Southampton for £34m, which with potential add-ons taking the fee to £36m, would make him the club's most expensive ever signing at the time.

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With centre back Joel Matip and goalkeeper Loris Karius having already arrived at the start of the close-season on free transfers, Mane was soon joined by £25m midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle and £4.2m defender Ragnar Klavan from German side Augsburg as Klopp embarked on his first pre-season at Liverpool.

The fixture list handed Liverpool a tough opening assignment away to Arsenal, with the Reds set to play their opening three matches away from home as the finishing touches to Anfield's new Main Stand were completed.

As the Reds kicked off at the Emirates on the scorching Sunday afternoon of 14 August 2016, no-one quite knew what to expect but a see-sawing match offered a glimpse into what the Klopp era would bring while at the same time showcasing the obstacles the German would have to navigate to achieve his goal of taking Liverpool back to the top.

Arsene Wenger was approaching the 20th anniversary of his arrival at Arsenal and after successive FA Cup wins in 2014 and 2015, another barren season and the passing of a dozen years since his last league title had cranked up the pressure on the Frenchman.

The home side started brightly and, after Simon Mignolet saved a penalty from Theo Walcott on the half hour mark, the England winger opened the scoring a minute later with a low drive.

Coutinho equalised however with a stunning 30 yard free kick into the top corner in first half stoppage time and three Liverpool goals in less than a quarter of an hour early into the second period demonstrated the blitzkrieg attacking force which would become the trademark of Klopp's Liverpool.

Adam Lallana put the Reds in front four minutes after the break, gliding onto an astute pass from debutant Gini Wijnaldum before Coutinho added his second with a flashing near-post volley from a Nathaniel Clyne cross seven minutes later.

With the game barely past the hour mark, Sadio Mane then truly announced himself in a Liverpool shirt for the first time.

Loping onto a hopeful Klavan knock down the right flank, the African forward turned on the afterburners and raced past Arsenal defender Callum Chambers on the outside before cutting back inside another defender and arrowing a left foot strike into the top corner to send the travelling Kopites wild with delight.

Sadio Mane of Liverpool and team mates celebrate his goal with Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on August 14, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

He raced to the touchline and got a piggy-back from Jurgen Klopp (who apologised for his exuberance after the game) with the home crowd shell-shocked and watching Liverpudlians ecstatic and wondering just what their new team might be capable of.

The defensive fragilities which had pock-marked Klopp's first part-season in charge returned as first Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and then Callum Chambers reduced the deficit to 4-3 with still a quarter of an hour to play but Liverpool held on to record an important opening day victory.

That inconsistency which would reveal itself again the following weekend with a 2-0 defeat at Burnley and particularly the following January and February when, having started 2017 in second place, the Reds won only two out of the next 12 games in all competitions to exit both domestic cups and put their Champions League qualification hopes in jeopardy.

That period coincided partly with Mane's departure to play in the African Nations Cup and illustrated just how quickly he had become an integral part of the side, as speculation continued to mount over Coutinho's future.

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Mane was to suffer a season-ending injury when Everton were beaten at Anfield at the start of April but crucial wins in the last four away games of the season at Stoke, West Brom, Watford and West Ham meant a final day victory over relegated Middlesbrough was enough to secure fourth place and the achievement of the season's primary objective.

Coutinho's future became the gradually recurring narrative of Klopp's second summer in charge but, while the writing was perhaps already on the wall in terms of the Brazilian's future, the crucial securing of Champions League football helped enabled Liverpool to sign Mohamed Salah that summer - and Virgil van Dijk the following January - and the rest, as they say, is history.

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