Jurgen Klopp is not happy — but the answer to his problem is not going to be the one many Liverpool supporters are hoping for.
After 10 days in the USA and three winless matches, there is a clamour among fans for Klopp to make a statement in the transfer market.
Liverpool ‘went big’ in in 2018, spending money like never before, but history will not repeat itself in this window. And there is a valid reason.
Aside from the signings of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Naby Keita, Liverpool also renewed the contracts of Mohamed Salah, Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Joe Gomez, Divock Origi and Sadio Mane over an 18-month period.
The reward for that investment arrived in Madrid when Liverpool became champions of Europe — they also reached superlative heights in the Premier League, pushing Manchester City all the way to amass 97 points.
The anxiety among certain fans is because of a feeling that progress will stall if Klopp doesn’t spend.
Klopp’s response to that quandary is telling. In the three summers from 2016 to 2018, Liverpool made significant and expensive additions and that has put them into a position, the manager believes, where they can now afford to be selective.
‘I can’t say anything about what other teams are doing,’ said Klopp. ‘I don’t know how they do it. We have to pay bills. Sorry! Everybody has to play bills. We invested money in this team. Now it looks like we are not. But we are not in this fantasia land where you just get whatever you want.’
Some names with whom Liverpool have been linked have caused bewilderment behind the scenes — not least Lille forward Nicolas Pepe, who is on the brink of joining Arsenal. Liverpool had no interest in him. Similarly, the idea of a reunion with Philippe Coutinho has never been given serious consideration.
Likewise, Liverpool will never be in the market to bring in anyone on loan. If a young player did become available who Klopp felt would improve his squad Liverpool would certainly back the manager, but the German stresses that he is content with his lot.
‘You cannot (spend) constantly,’ he said. ‘It looks like there are four clubs in the world who can. Madrid, Barcelona, City and PSG. Whatever they need, they do. You cannot compare. It is not a criticism. I know how people will take it, that I am jealous or whatever.
‘I am not at all jealous! This year is not the end of LFC. Next year there will be another transfer window. This team is really good and we have invested a lot in it. Now we have to work that. You cannot hope that we will not draw at home to Leicester on a snowy pitch with five new signings. There is no guarantee with that. There is no guarantee. There will be average games and we still have to win the title but that doesn’t mean we need different players. It only means we need a team that is ready that day. And that is what we have to do. We have to make sure.’
If the US tour has been more testing than Klopp anticipated, he will be relieved this week when he welcomes back Salah, Alisson and Firmino for a week-long training camp in Evian on the banks of Lake Geneva.
There are games to play against Napoli and Lyon before they go head-to-head with City in the Community Shield next Sunday and Klopp calmly believes that the improvements Liverpool need to make will arrive.
He specified the case of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as an example.
‘Ox has not played football for a year and he wants to be ‘The Ox’ again,’ said Klopp. ‘A few things work out, some other things don’t work out and he gets frustrated. It’s normal, we are all like this when you think, “I was good at that!” It will happen for him again.
‘It is only about time. It is all very positive. We have a real strong team — the front three are not here, Naby and Shaq were not here. I don’t think our fans like this but there is an expectation sometimes.
‘Shall we sell five players to make space for five new ones?
‘Send me a list and tell me who are the ones you want to have out. They would send back a blank piece of paper because they want to keep all the players — and bring in the next ones.’Daily Mail