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Don't be surprised if Liverpool spend money in January, no matter what Jurgen Klopp says

Don't be surprised if Liverpool spend money in January, no matter what Jurgen Klopp says

The Reds boss played down talk of Virgil van Dijk's arrival last January just before it happened

IT’S that time of year when you worry whether you’ve bought everything you need. When you speak to others about what they’ve got and wonder if you should go shopping one more time. Just to make sure you don’t get caught short.

Yes, the transfer window is upon us. The speculation is ramping up, the gossip column grows longer by the day, Jim White is cracking his knuckles and YouTube compilation compilers are up nights splicing clips in readiness for an avalanche of hits come January.

From a Liverpool perspective, Jurgen Klopp has already moved to dampen expectations around the likelihood of new faces, saying last month: “If crazy things happen then maybe we have to think new, but I don’t expect that.

“At the moment it doesn’t look like we will be too busy but it all depends on injuries and things like that. In the moment we have each position twice, three times and sometimes four times covered.

“I don’t think there is any reason to try to do something really big like bring in another striker.
We have all that we need. Our job now is to use the quality that we have and to work with it because one player doesn’t change it.”

By now though, we know not to read too much into these things. This time last year, Klopp was hinting that he was happy with his defensive options. Not too long after, a world-record fee for a defender was agreed and Virgil van Dijk became a Liverpool player.

Similarly, Philippe Coutinho left Anfield for Barcelona in an £142million transfer last January - just months after the manager had said: “I wasn't manager when Suarez was sold, I wasn't manager when Sterling was sold. I'm manager now, and we're not selling Coutinho.”

None of this is to call out Klopp as a man who is economic with the truth. More, it is to point to the fact everything is fluid, everything can change and deals that look dead in the water can soon spring into life in a matter of minutes.

It’s also worth remembering that any utterance from the mouth of a manager has far-reaching ramifications. And they are more than aware of it, too, which is why the big clubs employ media managers, PR staff, press officers and the rest.

If Klopp publicly announced that the club was in the market for a player, would it help or hinder negotiations with clubs and agents? Could it put noughts on asking prices and salary demands?

There’s every chance, so why risk it?

Equally, the gaffers have the current workforce to consider. How do you get the best out of someone if they know their days are numbered?

Proclaiming that the search for a striker is well and truly on is hardly the words Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke want to hear right now. So why say it?

Meanwhile, work can carry on regardless behind the scenes. In silence. In secret.

Since Liverpool very publicly had their knuckles rapped by Southampton about an all-too-obvious interest in van Dijk that delayed a deal and probably added a few noughts to boot, there seems to have been efforts to keep negotiations a little more clandestine.

Fabinho’s deal seemingly came from nowhere post Champions League final, while the transfer of Alisson Becker also appeared to be wrapped up very quickly once Liverpool decided to pounce.

Klopp also seems to have softened on a previous rather idealistic stance about the modern-day market.

Going back to July 2016, Klopp said: “Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players. I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money.”

This was around the time Manchester United coughed up just shy of £90m for Paul Pogba and many considered his points to be admirable.

It appears since then that reality has bitten. The spending isn’t going to stop. The skewed competition isn’t going to right itself. So, if you can’t beat them, you may as well join them.

After a relatively modest beginning to transfers under his leadership, Liverpool upped their game with the record fee for Van Dijk followed by another for Alisson (then a record for a goalkeeper, since eclipsed by Kepa’s move to Chelsea).

Fabinho (£40m) and Naby Keita (£53m) also represented chunky fees for previously conservative-looking spenders, while the Reds were ready to pen another cheque for north of £50m for Lyon’s Nabil Fekir before that deal collapsed over injury concerns.

Klopp might have had to grapple with his morals, and it has been detailed several times that he had his hand held over the size of some of the transfer fees, but now he’s all in, do we really think he’s all out come January?

“It’s not nice but that’s the market, that’s the world and we have to adapt,” said Klopp of the Van Dijk fee.

Now, as he watches Manchester City continue with machine-like efficiency at the top of the Premier League, does he need to adapt again?

Up front, Liverpool look to be chugging at times. Sturridge has proved himself a threat from the bench but Klopp appears less convinced offering him a starting spot, giving him the nod from the get-go just four times this season.

Fellow forward Origi may have found a place in Anfield folklore for his Derby day heroics but that was just his second substitute appearance of the season, while Dominic Solanke, currently nursing a groin injury, is yet to feature this season.

Meanwhile, first-choice regulars Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have both looked in need of a reboot at times.

Further back, Klopp saw something that Fekir could improve, while many have talked of fears about a midfield that is too much industry over artistry right now.

With Liverpool in a real fight for the title this season - a situation that has been all too rare in the last 28 years - January could offer an opportunity to put fresh fire into the red machine.

Should Klopp take that chance? Yes. Is he likely to announce he intends to do so? No. And that’s the way it should be.





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Gareth Roberts
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