Jurgen Klopp has launched a passionate defence of Liverpool’s huge summer outlay and is not concerned about whatever criticism comes his way.
This has been the most aggressive window in Liverpool’s modern history and their spending went beyond £170million last Thursday after they paid a world record £65million for Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker to supplement the additions of Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Given that Liverpool also broke the world record for a central defender (£75m) to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, it has left their rivals — specifically the Manchester clubs — to ask questions about comments Klopp made in July 2016 while in Los Angeles.
Shortly after Manchester United paid £89.3million for Paul Pogba, Klopp said:
‘Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players. I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money.’
Klopp raised a smile when the subject was raised ahead of Liverpool’s opening International Champions Cup game against Borussia Dortmund but he was firm in his response and made it clear criticism from elsewhere will have no effect.
‘We don’t care what the world around us is thinking, like Manchester United didn’t care what I said,’ said Klopp. ‘It is only an opinion in that moment. Did I change my opinion? Yes. That is true. But it is better to change your opinion than never have one. That is it.
‘Whatever people say about that and bring it up again and again, I have had worse days in my life and worse things. I am fine with that. All good. We have the players we wanted.
‘That is the problem these days. Whatever bull**** you say, nobody will forget it! But on the other side, it is still kind of true. I couldn’t imagine the world would change like that two years ago. £100m was a crazy number. Since then the world has changed completely.’
Nowhere has that been more evident than Anfield. At the end of the 2016-17 season, Liverpool’s club transfer record remained the £35million that was lavished on Andy Carroll in January 2011. Since then, though, Klopp has gone beyond that fee for players SIX times.
Mohamed Salah (£36.9m), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (£40m) and Van Dijk (£75m), arrived last season, with Keita (£52.5m), Fabinho (£43.7m) and Alisson (£65m) following on this summer. Klopp, though, believes such figures will now become the norm.
‘I am sure at this moment we have signed the most expensive goalkeeper,’ said Klopp. ‘It is early in the transfer window. There will be some nice transfers (elsewhere) to follow. My responsibility is for this club to be as successful as possible.
‘It is not for me to push through my thoughts and say we don’t want to buy players or pay big money and in the end Liverpool is not successful. That doesn’t work. We have a really good squad. To improve it is expensive. Better players than we already have are not waiting around the corner.
‘You need to respect contracts but if you are interested in a player you have to try and bring them in. When we are convinced about it, our owners – thank God – believe that much in the project, then they say ‘Let’s do it’. It has been a good year for us. Really good squad, Played really good football.
‘But we needed to replace Emre Can so we brought in Fabinho – good business. Keita was a no brainer. Shaqiri had a lot of good games for Stoke. I know they got relegated but he had a lot of good games. In a team with other players around he can make the next step.
‘He is 26 with a lot of experiences. Then the world class goalkeeper who had a really contract at Roma. You can’t get him on a free transfer.’
Klopp was asked about whether there will be any more signings for Liverpool in this window, specifically regarding Dortmund forward Christian Pulisic. He replied:
‘He has a contract at Dortmund, no? That’s the first problem! I like Christian, I known him since he was a kid and he’s still not really old.
‘He’s a fantastic player and it’s deserved that people think highly of him in America – in Germany it’s the same. If he wants to play in England one day or whatever and he, for sure, has the chance to do so. But in this moment he’s in a really good club for his development.’