It’s always been a bit of a conundrum. To get better players, it helps to be competing for trophies and playing in Europe. It especially helps to be playing in the Champions League. To get to the Champions League, though, you need better players. The sort of better players who only want to sign if you’re already there.
It’s a bit of a chicken and egg things, then, and certainly an issue Liverpool fans have seen first hand in recent years. Like many, manager Jürgen Klopp isn’t entirely on board with it, but it does seem to be the reality and with the club now properly in the Champions League, it could with recruitment and retention.
“It’s a big influence, especially if you can do it more often,” Klopp noted following Wednesday night’s decisive victory over Hoffenheim. “If you talk to a player, especially the players we talk to, they say, if you played in the Champions League it would be interesting, the manager’s maybe not to bad. All this stuff.
“Even when you try to extend a contract with a player in the squad, they sometimes say, yeah, I want to play in the Champions League. I always think, double-yew tee eff? It’s your job to do it with us together! Don’t ask for us to do the job so you can come and play in the Champions League—do it with us together!”
This isn’t new for Klopp. The manager has in the past said he wants players who value the project, the chance to build something. Still, Liverpool remain a thin squad, and as good at that squad can be on their day—as good as the players he has on hand or who bought into the project early on can be—it desperately needs depth.
With a week to go in the transfer window, there’s now a chance to put the promise of playing in the Champions League for one of the game’s most respected managers to work. There might also be a contract extension or two on the horizon—for players like Emre Can who has a year left and Roberto Firmino who has two.
“That’s what this team did,” Klopp added, praising the players who were at the club, the ones who did buy in. “Fourteen months of work. It’s so exciting to be a part of it. For me personally, it’s two or three years. I loved it always—I still love it, the players love it, the crowd loves it. We will have fantastic European nights.”