Football: Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp not fussed over transfers

Adam Lallana sporting Liverpool's new third kit alongside vice-captain James Milner in Hong Kong. The Reds will play Crystal Palace tomorrow.
Adam Lallana sporting Liverpool's new third kit alongside vice-captain James Milner in Hong Kong. The Reds will play Crystal Palace tomorrow.PHOTO: XINHUA

Liverpool boss says he is focused on current squad, challenges team to shore up defence

The two Manchester rivals are, as usual, doing brisk business this transfer season. So are the London clubs, with English Premier League (EPL) champions Chelsea and Arsenal recently capturing key signings from the French Ligue One.

Even Everton, who have been struggling with their finances for some time, are on a spending spree in this off-season after a fresh cash injection from new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri. They have splurged nearly £90 million (S$160.85 million) on the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane.

Amid this flurry of player movements, Liverpool have stayed relatively quiet on the transfer front - and, if manager Jurgen Klopp has his way, the Reds are intent on staying low key throughout his tenure.

"I have no intention of making the club spectacular in the transfer market," the German said yesterday in Hong Kong, where the Reds are taking part in the Premier League Asia Trophy pre-season tournament with fellow EPL clubs Leicester City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.

"If you see the other title challengers, not only are players coming in, but there are also many of them leaving.

"At Liverpool, yes, few are coming in, but fewer are going out.

"We prefer to be patient, we prefer to wait and develop the players we have. Sometimes good things may happen when they stay longer together as a team."

GOOD THINGS FOR THOSE WHO WAIT

We prefer to be patient, we prefer to wait and develop the players we have. Sometimes good things may happen when they stay longer together as a team.''

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, defending his side's low-key activity in the transfer market.

OVER TO YOU, PLAYERS

So the challenge now is on my players: Do they have the winning mentality to keep improving season by season?''

KLOPP, throwing down the gauntlet to his squad ahead of his second full season in charge.

So far, the Reds have made just two first-team signings: Forward Dominic Solanke arrived on a free transfer from Chelsea, while Mohamed Salah was a club-record £36.9 million (S$66 million) signing from Italian Serie A side AS Roma.

Liverpool are reportedly on the verge of sealing a deal for Hull City left-back Andrew Robertson. However, two of their top targets - Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita and Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk - remain out of reach.

The lack of significant signings has led to concern among supporters that the squad may be too thin to challenge on both the domestic and European fronts.

Already there is criticism from the club's formidable legion of past stars. Champions League winner Dietmar Hamann, for instance, is worried that Liverpool lack cohesive, alternative strategies if Klopp's all-out pressing tactics fail to reap rewards.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "I don't know if the players, or even the coach, have the tactical nous and the capabilities to play 50 or 60 games a season in the high-energy way they play and be competitive throughout."

Such criticism would have been unheard of in Klopp's past two seasons, in which he was a hugely popular figure on Merseyside.

Two seasons without acquiring silverware, though, have begun to sow the seeds of doubt among Reds fans.

Still, Klopp is adamant that his management methods will pay off not just in the short term, but also in the long term.

Besides being prudent in the transfer market, the Reds are also improving their facilities - increasing Anfield's seating capacity, as well as combining both their first-team and youth training grounds.

In fact, the German has set his men the target of conceding 15 fewer goals for the upcoming season.

He reasoned: "If we score a similar number of goals, then we can expect to have a better season in terms of points in the league.

"So the challenge now is on my players: Do they have the winning mentality to keep improving season by season?

"I believe they can, but they must show it, starting from this pre-season."

Liverpool begin their 2017-18 EPL season away to Watford on Aug 12. In addition, they will also begin their first Champions League campaign since the 2014-15 season with a third-round qualifier next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp unfussed over transfers'. Print Edition | Subscribe