This is one of our favourite snippets from Jurgen Klopp’s many interviews since taking over as Liverpool manager, cited here in the Echo.
The German has cleverly played down the significance of Raheem Sterling facing Liverpool for the first time since his £49m summer departure. Klopp correctly claims that player exits in football are normal, and that there’s no point keeping a player at the club against his will anyway. Crucially, it’s creating a club and team that nobody wants to leave which is most crucial…
“I don’t know anything about Sterling’s story but I know about similar stories and it is normal,” Klopp began.
“This is Mario Goetze’s story with Dortmund. You cannot hold the player when he doesn’t want to be there. It doesn’t work. So you have to take the money and do something smart with it.
“Always, the will of the players is very important. First of all we have to try to become a club in the future that nobody wants to leave.
“Then we have the problems that we have to send some players (out) because we have too many! That is ultimately what we have to do.
“And it’s possible. The weather in Manchester is not that much better than Liverpool so it is not the biggest advantage.
“It is a long, long journey, but we have started it and we want to do this.
“We don’t have to talk about the past with Sterling. He’s a brilliant player, everybody knows this.
“Now he’s at Man City. Now we close the book. We have other good players, really good players; and that is what we have to think about.”
Instead of focussing on big names and bringing in immediate replacements, the former Dortmund manager wants to develop what he already has at Anfield.
“That’s the truth: I like to build up teams – it’s what I really like in football,” Klopp continued…
“But I have no problem with a different way. I’m not here because we cannot buy expensive players! No, no, no, different reasons.
“£15m or £50m?
“There is no reason not to buy (for so much) if you are a football romantic.
“I don’t want to buy but if we want a player and that’s the price, we have to think about it.
“Yes, it’s better you have players in your own squad that are worth £100m but don’t want to leave – that’s the best thing.
“This is what we try to do for the future. But it’s okay when other clubs do this, I have no problem.”
Klopp’s comments indicate that he’s not bothered by the wonky Premier League financial playing field. While City have a bottomless transfer kitty, and Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are more dangerous in the market than us as well, Klopp will build a side to compete in a different way.
It’s reassuring that he will have the tools to buy top players if he needs to do, but more comforting that it’s by no means his priority.