The English (Barclay’s) Premier League season concluded and Liverpool FC, under the reformed leadership of Jürgen Klopp, managed a hit & miss eighth place. Liverpool scored 60 points, two short of West Ham United, three short of Southampton and missed any action in Europe for the 2016/17 season — but as a dedicated supporter, I’m okay with that. Why? Because Klopp was essentially managing Brendan Rodgers team and trying to make the best of it. To expect too much too soon would be ridiculous and honestly is not reflected in Klopp’s managerial history.
The fastest way to provide a salve to the Europa Cup final loss to Sevilla would be to nail down a marquee signing sooner rather than later. Officially, the summer transfer window began on July 01, 2016 (lasting two months) but clubs, players, and agents were free to negotiate (and announce) before that date. The question Klopp is now pondering and presumably acting upon is who leaves and who joins the fray? History teaches us Klopp will move with alacrity and direct purpose, shifting players who do not suit his game while bringing in a host of potential replacements. After nosing around online, Klopp’s transfer pattern appears consistent may be leaned upon without fear of it falling apart under the burden of scrutiny.
While managing Dortmund, Klopp oversaw many transfer windows but one thing remains clear: he can work within a budget. In fact, between 2008/9 and 2013/14, Klopp never strayed beyond a plus/minus of £5m in any given transfer window, normally landing on the plus side. That is exceptional money and player management considering his record of success during that time. Furthermore, in the same period, the price paid for Klopp’s average player acquisition was rarely greater than $4m, pushing to the maximum of $20.63 with Mkhitaryan in 2013/14. Once more, excellent focus on value for money and development but what about the sheer number of people in and out the door.
There is no doubt Klopp pushes players in and out with almost alarming frequency. In Klopp’s 2008/09 season (his first with Dortmund), only including players who were paid for (i.e., not including loans or contracts expiration’s), he signed eight while he sold nine. That is a hefty change but, truth be told, I expect the same sort of shake-up with Liverpool’s formal transfer window. During the remaining years, the paid transfers were:
|Season||# Players IN/OUT||Highest Price Paid…||…Player Signed|
|2008/09||+8 / -9||£3.38m||Subotic|
|2009/10||+7 / -5||£3.15m||Hummels|
|2010/11||+6 / -6||£3.56m||Lewandowski|
|2011/12||+4 / -6||£4.13m||Gundogan|
|2012/13||+4 / -6||£12.83m||Reus|
|2013/14||+4 / -8||£20.63m||Mkhitaryan|
Just glancing at the list, one can easily be impressed with the quality now associated with those names. Allow me to take a moment and list players Klopp turned into household names: Mats Hummels, Sven Bender, Robert Lewandowski, Lukasz Piszczek, Shinji Kagawa, Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyant, and Henrikh Mkhitaryn. All of those players were either discovered, developed, or polished under the hand of Jurgen Klopp (and his assistant coaches). So where does that leave Liverpool FC for the 2016/17 season?
In good hands.
Thus far, Klopp has successfully signed Joel Matip (free transfer), Marko Grujic (free transfer), Loris Karius (£4.7m), and Saido Mane (£32.0m). All these changes have been considered exceptional business with the potential for high value returns by most pundits — well, all of that business except the surprising Saido Mane purchase. Klopp has expressed to the media he’s been following and admiring Mane for some time and in light of the rebuff by Mario Gotze, it appears likely Klopp is satisfied with his forward thinking players (though I would have loved a more high-profile signing). From where I sit, it appears the focus needs to be on the middle of the park. We need a rock solid center midfield, box-to-box kind of player for the team to revolve around. Hopefully that will come sooner rather than later.
From where I sit, I trust Klopp more than I ever trusted any manager in recent Liverpool club history. The future remains bright and we’re lucky to have Klopp at the helm.