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Klopp Talk: Contract Renewals and Transfer Spending

In his pre-Norwch City press conference, the Liverpool boss made a strong statement about transfer spending.

Jürgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on August 11, 2021 in Kirkby, England.
Jürgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on August 11, 2021 in Kirkby, England.
Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

In his previous position as Borussia Dortmund manager, Jürgen Klopp struggled to keep his players. While the boss successfully challenged Bayern Munich’s dominance on the pitch during his time at Dortmund, Klopp often found himself leaking star players during each transfer window — and often directly to his German rivals.

At Liverpool it has been a different story. Apart from Philippe Coutinho (and arguably Emré Can), Klopp has held onto players in their peak years of performance.

The news this week of new contracts for some of Liverpool’s best players (including today’s news about Virgil Van Dijk’s new deal) is a sign of the club’s current position of strength, and something Klopp emphasized in his pre-match press conference this morning.

If you are a real Liverpool fan then you have to be happy with the news the club has delivered in the past few weeks with the new contracts. Alisson, Trent, Fab, Virgil, great news.

Many fans online have been vocal in their disappointment about a lack of new signings; what Klopp is suggesting here, though, is that there is no need to bring in new players to fill any present gaps — instead, re-signing proven stars might be even more important, and thus important to celebrate.

Of course, having a strong squad now doesn’t mean new signings are completely unnecessary, as the club are at a pivotal moment for succession planning (the front three are aging, for example), and signings for the future will likely happen quite soon. The arrival of Ibrahima Konaté (and last summer’s signing of Diogo Jota) suggest that the club knows this.

At the same time, however, Klopp is quick to point out that Liverpool are not a club of unlimited means, and while the revenue is certainly healthy, much of Liverpool’s profits go to maintaining the Premier League’s third-highest wage bill (a wage bill, centrally, that has grown large through contract extensions and improved terms for proven stars rather than with the addition of new players).

Dissatisfied fans, it’s implied, should judge Liverpool’s transfer business by the club’s success rather than by what other clubs decide to do financially in the market, especially in a market stunted by COVID-19.

These clubs don’t depend on these kinds of things [the health of global financial markets]. We all know the situation of Chelsea, City, PSG for example. I don’t know exactly how United do it.

We have our way we do it. We are [only] allowed to spend the money we earn. That’s what we always did.

After pressing James Pearce to name a specific player Liverpool should sign to replace Gini Wijnaldum (a conversation which was likely friendly rather than combative), Klopp emphasized that “[Liverpool] cannot spend money we don’t have.”

In the past, Liverpool have spent big to fill present gaps in the squad, though even then the spending — on Alisson and Virgil Van Dijk — has clearly been within the club’s means.

At present, there are no major holes in Liverpool’s squad bar the sheer number of minutes Winaldum played last season. Barring another historical injury crisis, these minutes could be covered by the available first team midfielders (Thiago, Henderson, Milner, Elliot, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keïta, and Jones — should Shaqiri leave the club) rather than by signing just one player who can expect to put in the majority of midfield minutes.

Should Liverpool make another signing or two this window, which Klopp has hinted about in the past, expect them to have an age profile like Konaté; by looking to the future, the club can spend less money on a younger player rather than going to the market for a player we can expect to see play week in, week out.

By securing the signatures of key players for the future, the club has limited the holes that will need to be filled in the near future, even if holes remain in certain positions for future seasons given the ages of current stars. In other words, we don’t need any particular signing immediately, even if we might well within the next two seasons.

The club may make a signing or two before this window ends, but it’s important to realize that they have two or three more windows before the signings are centrally necessary for first team play.

As we noted yesterday, Klopp insists we realize — and celebrate — that the squad is in a healthy place:

Let’s go through the squad. Do you want a new centre back? Goalkeeper? We already have good players. In midfield, we have players with a lot of experience: Thiago, Fabinho, Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita. In addition, we have exciting young players in Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones.

In attack we have Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Xherdan Shaqiri, Takumi Minamino, and Divock Origi. If you want to buy such players, you have to spend a lot. We do not have to do that, because the players are already here.

“You have to make changes from time to time, but then there must be room to do it. We do not want more players. If something happens somewhere then something can happen somewhere else, but for now it makes no sense to add more players.”

What does this mean? Well, if a few more fringe players are sold, we might see more signings. We might wait to sign until the January window.

At the end of the day, the club currently do not have room for more players, leaving money aside: due to the homegrown player rule and roster size limitations, the club are already over-packed.

As such, don’t expect more signings unless we see more outgoings — and make sure to celebrate that we have so many key players signed on for years to come.