Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool’s relative inactivity in the transfer market over the past 12 months demonstrates the difficulty of improving a dominant squad and a willingness to promote internal talent such as Curtis Jones.
Takumi Minamino, this month’s £7.3m capture from Salzburg, is the only senior outfield player Liverpool have signed in the past three transfer windows, with their summer in-comings limited to the youngsters Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg plus Adrián as a replacement for Simon Mignolet.
The Liverpool manager insists he is always looking to strengthen despite his team winning the Champions League in June, the Club World Cup in December and boasting a remarkable 19-point lead in the Premier League. But he admits finding and acquiring the players that can enhance a squad in such commanding form is complicated.
Klopp said: “It is not easy but is it possible? We don’t know exactly. We just prepare potential situations – that’s how it is. We always try to strengthen and to strengthen could mean that we look at our own squad as well: who can make the next step, who is ready for doing that, who will hopefully not be injured and can hopefully make the next steps as well? Like Ox [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain] and Naby [Keïta], some little injuries here and there cost them always a little bit of rhythm, but we all know about the quality of them. Curtis now came on in the last game, looked pretty promising.
“These are talks we have, where we try to estimate the future. We believe that we can do a lot with this existing squad, that these boys can make next steps. As long as you can make the next step, you are in the right place and we just have to make sure that they do them as well. A squad like this, to improve easily would be really strange. It would have to be 100% the right player, or we do it internally, or we do it internally and externally.”
Liverpool allowed Rhian Brewster and Natt Phillips to leave on loan this month for more regular first-team football but, with Klopp opting to field an under-23s side in next week’s FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury, other youngsters will not follow.
“No one will go now,” said Klopp. “These boys developed here. There are a lot of different ways you can develop talents and sometimes at the right moment a loan is the right way to do it. Some of them are often in our training now and that has helped as well. They’ve played some really good games for the under-23s – it’s a really nice team to watch. That is one part how you can develop and that is what we try. But this game on Tuesday is now for them.”