Europe absence no problem for Klopp

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has admitted that a failure to qualify for Europe has affected Liverpool's ambitions in the transfer market - but insisted that an absence of star arrivals at the club will not prevent him from building a team.

So far in the close season, Liverpool have signed the largely unheralded Marko Grujic, Joel Matip and Loris Karius.

Only Sadio Mane, a £30 million (S$53.3 million) acquisition from Southampton, has arrived as a proven Premier League performer at a time when some of their rivals, most notably Manchester City and Manchester United, are buying from a more expensive market.

With Klopp also pursuing Piotr Zielinski, the Udinese midfielder, and Ben Chilwell, the Leicester City left-back, Liverpool's transfer strategy has attracted criticism in some quarters.

The Liverpool manager, though, is dismissive of such disapproval, maintaining that every player he has recruited was wanted "100 per cent" and claiming events at Euro 2016 support his club's approach.

"This period in every year is one of a lot of expectations," he said. "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 can't prove in this moment what's really right.

"If you want to have proof of the different ways that football can work, you only have to look at the European Championship. There were wonderful examples of what football really is - about building a team, creating a bond between the team, supporters and whole countries."

Mario Gotze could have been a stellar signing but, after he was approached by Liverpool before Euro 2016, Klopp turned his attention to Mane in keeping with his zero-tolerance policy towards transfer targets who do not buy into the idea of moving to Anfield.

"We can talk about the one or two disadvantages that we have," Klopp said. "We are not in the Champions League (or) in the Europa League. That possibly means for one player, 'I want to play in the Champions League or have European football so I cannot join Liverpool.'

"That is a fact for us. We have to build our own squad and the base for this squad is the team from last season. For us it is not a moment to change a whole team, there is no reason for it."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Europe absence no problem for Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe