So far this offseason, if there were to be an award handed out for winning the transfer market, Chelsea would be almost as far ahead as Liverpool were on the pitch last season when Jürgen Klopp’s Reds won their first league title in three decades.
Their spending, though—as with the spending of Manchester City, another club built on oil money—doesn’t come naturally. Especially not during a pandemic that has a lot of others worried about finances and the future. Of at least that’s Klopp’s take.
“For some clubs it seems to be less important how uncertain the future is,” the Liverpool manager told The BBC’s 5 Live this week. “Owned by countries, owned by oligarchs. That’s the truth. We’re a different kind of club, it’s always been that way.
“We got to the Champions League final two years ago, we won the Champions League last year and became Premier League champions by being the club we are. So we cannot just change it overnight and say so now we want to behave like Chelsea.”
Chelsea got a lot of credit for playing their youth last season, but it now appears they only did so because of a transfer ban. And so now, with the ban lifted, it’s right back to buying rather than developing—the approach Klopp has always favoured.
And while it’s hard not to be impressed by Chelsea’s signings on paper, it can’t be ignored that they’re spending from a position of weakness on the pitch compared to Liverpool, having earned 59 fewer points than the Reds over the past two seasons.
They have a gap to make up—a big gap. And they have yet fully address their defensive issues, a far bigger problem for the London Blues last season than fixing an attack that was never especially broken. Plus, on paper doesn’t always translate.
“They’ve signed a lot of players,” Klopp continued on Liverpool’s spendthrift rivals. “That can be an advantage of course, but you cannot bring in the 11 best players in the world and hope that just a week later they will play the best football.
“It’s about working together on the training ground—that will probably be an advantage for us. We’ve worked a lot with each other. I know people don’t want to hear about that, but we did it last year that way. We always want to improve, but there are different ways.”
Klopp has always liked nurturing and developing talent. He has never liked stockpiling players who won’t play. His goal at Dortmund was always to keep his core together—a goal frequently undone by richer domestic rivals Bayern Munich.
Here and now, Liverpool’s core remains intact it would be difficult to improve—which cannot be said of Chelsea or any club outspending them. Coronavirus or no, Klopp and FSG’s Liverpool are well paired: neither is fond of spending for the sake of it.
Ideally, perhaps, the club will make a few more signings—there’s still time. Yet it shouldn’t be overlooked how good this side already are, and it can’t be said after the past few years that those making the calls haven’t earned the benefit of the doubt.