Jürgen Klopp has said that Champions League qualification will not allow him to go on a spending spree or for Liverpool to radically reshape his squad. Fresh from beating Manchester United 4-2, Liverpool know that victories against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, plus Burnley and Crystal Palace, mean a top-four finish is within their grasp.
Liverpool banked £98m in Champions League broadcast money for 2018-19, when they won the competition, so being consigned to next season’s Europa League would make a sizeable dent in their budget. However, Klopp insisted that the players’ ambition is the main motivation to play among the European elite as he dismissed talk of changing his plans in the transfer market.
“For the players it is much more important from a joy point of view,” the Liverpool manager said. “They desperately want to play Champions League. We have to use that. We will not stop playing if we don’t qualify and we will not buy eight players if we qualify so that is not the difference.”
Klopp did not play down the significance of a top-four finish, saying: “From [his first full season] on we qualified every time and it was always the main target so that says something: it is always really important for the club.”
Klopp was an opponent of the proposed European Super League and stressed that Liverpool have to earn their place in the Champions League, but feels it will be poorer without them. “Definitely but I don’t think they give us a wild card because of that,” he said. “Some other good teams are not in yet – imagine a Champions League without Juventus – but you have to deserve it.”
Nat Phillips almost joined Swansea in October and Rhys Williams was on loan at Kidderminster last season but they excelled at Old Trafford as a stand-in centre-back partnership in the extended absence of the injured Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joël Matip.
Klopp has promised the two rookies the opportunity to stay in the side when the regulars are fit next season, explaining: “The boys will be here and will be needed. I don’t get so blind overnight so that I don’t see a good performance.
“Team selection is based on performance in training and in pre-season friendlies or in proper competition games so the door is always open. This year created two proper careers which is nice. When you are at an academy, that is not written in stone but now they could show how good they are.”