We get it. After (another) 8th-place league finish last season behind the likes of West Ham and Southampton, two cup final losses—including a dismantling at the hands of Sevilla in the Europa League final—in addition to the lack of European competition to look forward to this term, it would’ve been a stretch to expect transfer targets to be tripping over themselves through the Shankly Gates. Even with Jürgen Klopp arguably ranking somewhere in the Top 5 of greatest living humans, we all knew simply having the charismatic German onboard wouldn’t be enough on its own.
However, that head knowledge doesn’t make the rejection any easier on the heart when it eventually (some would say, inevitably) comes. After a gloomy Liverpool news week made up of a sad mix of nostalgia, tales of missed connections and some bad news to save for later, the further series of revelations of all the players who turned Klopp down this summer, some of whom, if they had come, would’ve made this a flawless transfer season, instead made the week all the more disheartening. Ready the tub of Rocky Road Ben & Jerry’s.
Despite an overall impressive summer transfer window in which many missing puzzle pieces were brought in at a net profit, there have been—needless to say—some...reservations, let’s call them, among fans, that the transfer committee hadn’t recruited to fully address the whole defensively hemorrhaging goals thing.
A series of loans have left academy youngster Connor Randall as officially the only viable full back cover available for selection. Furthermore, and to the dismay of some, Klopp has made a point of publicly backing both Alberto Moreno and James Milner as his left back options along with Jordan Henderson as his defensive midfield backup (granted, the Liverpool captain deputized for Emre Can much better back there in his most recent outing in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham).
It has therefore been rather interesting to learn that there were in fact a number of transfer bids for players in those same hotly-discussed positions that ultimately failed to materialize before the transfer deadline. In addition to the abortive and well-publicized efforts to bring in the likes of Leicester City’s Ben Chillwell and Cologne’s Jonas Hector at full back, as well as Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud in central midfield, it has been made known in recent days that Klopp was also turned down by PSG’s excellent Lucas Digne (prior to a move to Barcelona) and AC Milan’s versatile Mattia De Sciglio.
While depressing, since pulling off either one of these transfers would’ve removed a massive question mark in the Liverpool squad as it currently stands, the revelations also provide a small insight into the combination of tact, clear-sightedness and ruthlessness with which Klopp is showing the potential to handle both man management and transfer business. The important transfers bids—i.e. those for starting full backs, as opposed to simply backups—remained tightly under wraps, potentially to maintain the confidence of those currently in the squad, a concept he alluded to in a fascinating recent interview with the Daily Mail. However, the bids also showed that the illustrious manager is not in fact clueless, as some Football Manager expert fans would have one believe, and is aware that the much-maligned Moreno is not even the medium-term answer at full back.
Let’s respect the man’s intelligence and give him the three years he asked for, eh?