With Liverpool in the midst of a summer where they have followed up victory in the Champions League by making no major signings, it’s perhaps worth taking a step back and remembering that Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp have never bought players for the sake of buying players.
There has to be a clear need, a clear fit, and a clear desire on the player’s part to join. The Liverpool manager also has a fondness for developing the talent at hand—both young and a little older—and will always support the players he already has, giving them every chance to prove their worth.
That’s the message from Liverpool assistant Peter Krawietz, and whether as a fan one fully buys into it or not, it’s an approach that’s been clear and consistent since the day Klopp signed on at Liverpool—and it’s an approach that has very much paid off so far for both the club and the fans.
“This is not a PlayStation game,” Krawietz told Raphael Honigstein in The Athletic. “We can’t design our own players or buy them with virtual currency. It comes down to budget and available options. Who’s on the market and how much? And you still have to compare them to the players already in the squad.
“If £40million won’t buy you a noticeable improvement, if we don’t see how that guy will lift up our performances to the next level, Jurgen will never do it. He won’t spend for the sake of spending. Perhaps the thinking in England is a little different in that respect. Spend, spend, spend.”
Looking around the league this summer, at Arsenal stockpiling expensive forwards while their defence remains a shambles and at Manchester United paying a world record fee for a centre half who would struggle to get into the starting eleven at Liverpool, it definitely does seem the case.
Spend money now, and even if it doesn’t work out at least you’ll be able to point to the fact that you spent a lot of money as though it’s a proper defence of failure. Meanwhile, Liverpool have stuck to their plan, and Klopp has kept his faith in the players who won the Champions League last season.
Whether it’s an approach works out ideally for them this time around is anyone’s guess, but given the progress the club has made while Klopp has stuck to it so far—even while those around them spend, spend, spend—at this point they’ve certainly earned a little faith, in them and in the approach.
“We still believe in the possibility of developing a player through training and systematic routines,” Krawietz added. “People are free to draw their own conclusions. There will always be people who think the manager is somehow stupid. If that’s how you feel—no problem.
“But we cannot be influenced by that. It is true that we support our players. They have to fight for their place—internally it is a massive competition for the starting spots. It’s also true that we believe in players’ ability to develop positively, up to a point, thanks to coaching and systematic work.”