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Arne Slot ‘cured’ star player’s insomnia and turned him from “lazy” to “very fit”

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Arne Slot‘s management at Feyenoord extended to helping cure his star player’s insomnia and moulding him from “lazy” to “very fit” ahead of a €30 million move.

Slot has begun his new job at Liverpool but is yet to meet any of his players, with the new head coach allowing for time off as many find themselves on international duty.

The 45-year-old will start sessions with his new squad next month, while he has already held talks with captain Virgil van Dijk as he begins to plan for life at Anfield.

It will be a big leap after nine years of Jurgen Klopp, but Liverpool are bringing in a new figurehead who “players love.”

That is according to former Ajax and PSV Eindhoven winger Kenneth Perez, who told ESPN that Slot took his players from “6/10 to 8/10.”

SAMSUN, TURKEY - Monday, June 19, 2023: Turkey's Orkun Kökçü applauds the supporters as he is substituted during the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying Group D match between Turkey and Wales at the Samsun 19 May?s Stadium. Turkey won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One such example is midfielder Orkun Kokcu, who is widely regarded as Slot’s most successful project, developing into the club’s leading man before a €30 million switch to Benfica in 2023.

“He was a little bit of a ‘lazy’ No. 10, thinking he already worked it out in Football,” Perez explained.

“And Slot has made him a very fit player, a professional player, and earned a lot of money for the club and him.”

It was Slot who helped cure Kokcu’s insomnia – an issue that was damaging his form – after it was discovered that he had taken his recovery shake at a time that affected his sleep due to Ramadan.

“My heart started beating faster, which made me freeze. I was so shocked that it left me with a little trauma,” Kokcu told De Volkstrant last year.

“He is more than a trainer”

arne slot

“I didn’t sleep a minute that night and in the months that followed I often couldn’t either.

“I had to save myself from that trauma. The trainer immediately said: go ahead. I didn’t wait for a plane, I drove home [from pre-season in Austria] in a van in eight hours.”

Kokcu eventually rid himself of his insomnia following a pilgrimage to Mecca, but the midfielder credits a coach who is “more than a trainer” for helping him solve the issue.

“It was difficult, there was a lot in my head. The trainer was one of the few who knew about it,” he continued.

“He is more than a trainer, he understands exactly how to deal with people. That’s why I cried when I hugged him after the championship game.”

“We were the fittest team”

This holistic approach is seen as a major benefit in the fitness of Slot’s players, with ex-Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar, who worked under the Dutchman at AZ Alkmaar, testifying.

“I think we played the best football at AZ under him when he was the coach,” Vlaar told ESPN.

“I think we never played better than that and we were all very fit.

“We trained hard, but he was clear about the things he wanted to see in training. He also told us upfront ‘OK, this is not going to be a nice exercise, but we have to do it to develop’.

“We gave everything every time. I think we were the fittest team that season.”

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