Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool have not been left behind by the big spending of their Premier League rivals and have purposely retained the bulk of their squad because “we think we can be successful together”.
Liverpool have invested heavily in new contracts for existing talent this summer rather than new faces, with Virgil van Dijk the latest player to commit his long-term future to the club on Friday. The influential defender signed a four-year contract and follows Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Alisson in extending his Anfield career recently. Despite uncertainty over Jordan Henderson’s future, with no agreement on extending a contract that has two years remaining, Klopp insisted: “It will get sorted. No doubt about that.”
Ibrahima Konaté is Liverpool’s only arrival so far this summer and the defender’s £36m transfer from RB Leipzig has been offset by the sales of Harry Wilson, Marko Grujic, Taiwo Awoniyi and Kamil Grabara for a combined £32m. Klopp admitted that Liverpool “have limits” and “are allowed to spend the money we earn” but denied the lavish spending at Chelsea and both Manchester clubs left his team at a disadvantage this season.
The Liverpool manager said: “It is not my position to judge the things that other clubs are doing. Of course all the players the clubs have signed have real quality and if Harry [Kane] is really going to Man City that would not make them worse! But City were probably the best team last year and won the league, but didn’t win the one they wanted [the Champions League].
“So there are different things you can do in football. There is no criticism at all. I don’t understand it 100% how it is possible but it seems to be possible for them. I know it is not possible for us so why should I now sit here and say: ‘We better sign him … we need him … we need that and we need that.’ I’m not like this. My job is to work with the players we have and I love working with these players. I love each second. We have a team that went through highs and lows together already. I would prefer to have a high again this season. Let’s give it a try and don’t think too much about what other teams are doing.”
Liverpool start their Premier League campaign at promoted Norwich on Saturday and Klopp is confident his settled squad can deliver another successful season. “If we can bring the full LFC package on the different pitches then we are not great to play against,” he said. “If that’s how it is then let’s win a football game and if people are still not happy that the guy they know already for five years is scoring the goals, and think, ‘That’s a bit boring, I prefer a new guy to score the goals’, I can’t see that.
“We are not together because we were together when we won things. We are together because these players are in a really good moment of their career and we think we can be successful together … we don’t stick together for the wrong reasons. We keep this squad together for the right reasons and try to improve it, which we did every year with a bit here and there. It’s just not as spectacular as our competitors are doing. Sorry for that.”
Klopp had another reason to celebrate after Van Dijk signed a long-term contract extension, with the influential defender committing himself to the club until 2025.
“All the hard work we’ve put in so far continues and I am looking forward to what the future brings together with Liverpool,” Van Dijk said. “I’m delighted, very happy and proud.”
Van Dijk has been out since last October with a serious knee injury and has only recently returned in pre-season friendlies. His influence on the team, however, ensured Liverpool remained committed to extending the defender’s highly successful Anfield career.
The defender believes he is in shape to play against Norwich. “I feel like I am ready for the weekend, so we’ll see what the manager decides,” he said.