Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool can challenge at the top of the Premier League this season regardless of whether they lure ‘big name’ signings to Anfield .
Klopp has recruited four players so far – and at least three more are expected soon – but the most renowned target, Mario Gotze, eluded him .
The German international’s refusal to commit prior to the European Championships snapped Klopp’s patience
Klopp felt Liverpool were being used by Gotze as a back-up option so withdraw his offer to his former Borussia Dortmund midfielder, who is now close to rejoining his old club from Bayern Munich. The Liverpool coach is adamant the right players – committed to his vision – are available, and don’t need to be hugely expensive, famous faces.
“If we go for players and there is obviously no chance, there is no point,” said Klopp.
“Look for players you can have and make the best of it. I am 100 per cent happy with the guys we have brought in until now.
“This period in every year is one of a lot of expectations. Everyone expects big names and a big improvement because of big names and if you don’t know the players it’s like ‘what are we doing? what are they doing?’
“Some clubs have already done a lot but you cannot prove in this moment what’s really right. What you have to do is prepare the new season.
“At the moment nobody thinks about the good games we played last season.
“They only think Manchester United have taken this player or Manchester City have taken this player and we have taken ‘what is the name?’ and that is it. This moment for us it is about creating and building a team for next year. We have to prove our thoughts about the team work.”
For Klopp, moulding a side is about assembling complementary talents, not obsessing over how much others are spending on established stars.
“We have to build a special bond. It is using experience, using the base and not killing the base and starting completely new,” he said.
“We can say yes we were only eighth in the league and that is not too good, but we could have got European football, that’s clear. You take from it and you make decisions and then go for it. That is what we are doing in the moment. I cannot make the transfers everyone wants.
“We can talk about the one or two disadvantages that we have. We are not in the Champions League, we are not in the Europa League. That possibly means a player wants to play in the Champions League or European football or whatever so cannot join Liverpool.
If you want it is only a fact for us. For us it is not a moment to change a whole team, there is no reason for it. Absolutely not. There were games – especially in the Europa league – where you can say this team plus some new transfers could be really strong. They could be a real challenger.”
On his new recruits, Klopp said: “(Loris) Karius is a wonderful goalkeeper, he is still a big talent, he is pretty young but has experience and from the German goalkeeper school which is not too bad. Joel Matip has played five or six years in a row at the highest level, big development and is a free agent so it was a wonderful transfer.
Sadio Mane? There is no doubt about him. He could fit in each Champions League team but he is here because he wanted to come here. We didn’t have to convince them that Liverpool is not as bad as everyone says, no.
It was a call – and we thought a lot about it, not just because they wanted to come – and it was ‘we want to join this team, this team is strong and we want to help it reach a lot of things in the future. We believe in the strength of the team, the club and the manager’.”
Klopp says recent successes across football demonstrate it is the team ethic that will decide how much Liverpool progress. He suggested Portugal’s win at Euro 2016 showed how the team structure was more important than individuals.
“I don’t need it but if you want to have proof of the different ways that football can work you only have to look at the European Championships.
“Maybe it was not the highest quality European Championship, maybe some of the games you could watch them but you didn’t miss anything if you didn’t watch them. In the end it showed a lot. There were wonderful examples of what football really is – about building a team, creating a bond between the team, supporters and whole countries.
When Iceland were playing, when Wales were playing that was the best example of how football can work. There are different ways obviously. In the end Portugal won the final and before the game most people thought France would win and it wasn’t too interesting.
I’m not a supporter of Portugal but in the game I thought ‘OK they deserve it’. They really struck back, they really did something special. They lost their most important player and it was another wonderful sign how it can work.”