By Adam Washbrook
Liverpool will line up against Sevilla in Basle on Wednesday night in what will be their first European final for nine years. The Reds have a huge opportunity for success in what has been a bleak domestic season, and it couldn’t be more important for Jurgen Klopp that his side take advantage of it.
When Klopp arrived, things were difficult at Anfield. The club were lounging in mid-table, after a number of mediocre performances. Scraping through competitions, failing to beat the minnows of the league… things were looking rough. Liverpool had decended into another transitional period, this time without any defining player or quality, and the “sleeping giants” reputation was quickly becoming more like the “slayed giant”.
Enter Klopp. The club are on the up – though domestically they’ve been far from perfect, we’ve seen some fantastic results against the big fish of the pond as well as a League Cup final – and once again look like European superstars, to be idolized worldwide. Key to next season’s continued improvement, however, is recruitment. And key to recruitment could well be Champions League football.
The Reds have been regularly linked with numerous high caliber players for much of Klopp’s reign, particularly one Mario Gotze. World cup winner, Dortmund prodigy, Bayern star… Gotze has made quite a name for himself. His lack of regular football amongst one of the most star studded teams in world football has put him on the market for an expected £20million, and that has inevitably alerted some of the game’s active giants, if you will. Juventus and Dortmund are sniffing, both already established Champions League teams.
Liverpool may well hold the key with Klopp. On a level playing field, all things being equal – or even weighted slightly against Liverpool – Klopp could most probably turn negotiations his way in the bid to be reunited with his ex-apprentice. But failing to offer the highest level of club football to one of the most well sought after playmakers of a generation? Deal breaker.
With Matip and Grujic already confirmed signings, as well as Karius and Zeilinski
Though Jurgen will tell his players there are is no pressure going into the Europa League final, that they should enjoy themselves and play their way, there’s bound to be more that he’s hiding in the back of his mind. Not only could he establish himself as a cult hero before even managing a full season at the helm, he could make Liverpool the all-time highest winners of Europe’s second division. And even more importantly, he could well reap the rewards and bring some players through the doors of Melwood that sides of the past would’ve been lucky to face in a pre-season tournament.