Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has admitted his surprise at how well left-back Alberto Moreno dealt with being on the periphery last season.
The Spaniard has made an almighty turnaround in his Reds career that no-one could have foreseen just six months ago, having started 10 of their 12 Premier League games and all four of their Champions League fixtures this term.
Midfielder James Milner was preferred to Moreno for most of last season, with the 25-year-old restricted to just two league starts all season.
Napoli were also very interested in buying him during the summer, only failing to secure him by falling a little short of the Merseyside outfit's £15 million valuation.
Now, though, Moreno is back in the Spain squad and has been magnificent for Liverpool.
So much so that Milner is now back playing exclusively in his favoured central role, and new signing Andy Robertson has barely had a sniff.
Speaking about his full-back, the Reds boss said prior to Moreno's return to Sevilla in the Champions League: "I never had something like this, I never had it to be honest. This season is not a surprise, the surprise is how he dealt with last season. There was not one bad word in the whole season."
Reds boss pleased by Moreno's progress
Moreno was determined to return to being a first-team regular, and impressed Klopp with his attitude and his strong desire to improve.
"Yes, he was in my office," the German manager continued. "He asked what he could do better, and we spoke about the things he had to do better."
Klopp noted that Milner "played really well" last season, calling the veteran "a machine" who "could play every two days", adding that "there was not a lot of reasons to make the change" and start Moreno, who he felt "had no rhythm."
It was the decision of Klopp and his staff to move Milner back into midfield, and to sign another left-back in Robertson, but it was Moreno who showed the willingness to stay and fight for his spot - the Reds boss has said.
Klopp added: "Before the season, he came to my office and asked again and I told him we get another full-back but it was not the plan for Milly to be in the full-back race again, so you decide what happens – and he decided it."
The manager admitted: "I felt that it was unfair after the season. I thought, 'Damn, we didn't use him often enough'. He's now a much better defender – that's how it is. He's a brilliant footballer. How he reacted on last year is really, really good."
Moreno is expected to start against his former club Sevilla on Tuesday night as Liverpool look to qualify for the last-16 of the Champions League with a game to spare.
He will also be heavily involved as Klopp's side tackle two games per week in the run-up to the festive period.