Naber met with Karius in Liverpool this week for German publication WELT and has kindly provided a translation of the interview for This Is Anfield.
Karius about his new role being No 1:
“I worked hard for this opportunity and I want to show now that it was the right decision. I’m happy that the manager trusts [me].”
Karius about the previous situation (sharing the job with Mignolet):
“I don’t want to call it being number 1A or number 1B but the situation wasn’t satisfying for me.
“Of course, I wanted to play every week. That’s my aspiration. But I knew that I`d get a new chance. Now I want to take this chance.”
Karius on his relation with Mignolet:
“It’s a professional relationship. We train together and respect each other. I don’t have any problem with him.
“In general I think that, nowadays, there are no such hostile relations between goalkeepers anymore. That’s maybe different than in the past.”
Karius on Klopp:
“We have a good relationship. I hold him in high regard as trainer and a person. You can always talk to him. He motivates us, especially in difficult situations and he helps me to get better every day.
“Before the summer break, I talked to him and he explained his perspective. I know that Klopp was always convinced of my skills. I always felt his trust. I never felt uneasy.”
Karius on how Klopp has changed Liverpool:
“I think he sets everyone an example of German virtues. I mean things like punctuality, discipline and team spirit. But he also focuses on a modern training philosophy and the right diet. In these things, he changed a lot.
“Klopp demands a lot from us, and he is on fire himself all the time. He works very closely with the team and he conducts every training.
“He is a very emotional coach who matches perfectly with this club.”
Karius about Liverpool’s ambitions:
“I understand the desire of the fans to win titles. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for so many years.
“It’s our goal to stay in the competitions as long as possible. To dream about the title is not forbidden, but it’s still a long way.”
* Follow Ibrahim on Twitter: @IbraNaber
We round up the latest Liverpool transfer news and rumours on Friday, with Jurgen Klopp set to oversee more departures than arrivals this January.
But while their focus will be on another three points against the bottom-dwellers, speculation continues over incomings and outgoings.
There are less than two weeks to go until the end of the winter transfer window, so who is set to leave and who could arrive before the deadline on January 31?
Here’s the latest from the rumour mill, as Klopp misses out on one of his midfield targets.Inter Lodge ‘Serious’ Offer for Sturridge
Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s trip to south Wales, Klopp remained coy on Daniel Sturridge‘s future, saying “we don’t discuss the transfer market here.”
But it is widely reported that the 28-year-old will be allowed to leave the Reds if a satisfactory deal is agreed with another club.
Both Sevilla and Inter Milan are believed to be interested in signing Sturridge on loan, and according to Goal‘s Melissa Reddy, the latter have now made a “serious” offer.
This “includes a substantial loan fee, the full assumption of his salary and a path to making the deal permanent.”
However, Seville is said to be Sturridge’s preferred destination, so it is likely that Liverpool will wait for an offer from their Champions League group stage opponents before moving forward.Ings Set to Stay at Anfield
Sturridge’s future could have a major impact on the rest of Klopp’s attacking options, with a departure for the England striker depriving Danny Ings of a move of his own.
Ings has been touted with a temporary switch elsewhere, with the likes of Newcastle United and West Brom reportedly interested, but according to the Telegraph, he is now set to stay.
They also claim that a similar bid for Sturridge was also rejected, which may be due to the Reds not wishing to strengthen another Premier League side with a loan deal.Goretzka Confirmed As Bayern Player
Liverpool’s pursuit of Germany international Leon Goretzka seemed doomed from the start, as with both Bayern Munich and Juventus among the clubs pursuing the midfielder, they were an outside bet.
Nevertheless, the Reds made an approach to the 22-year-old’s representatives with a view to sealing a pre-contract agreement as his deal runs out with Schalke.
But the Bundesliga side confirmed on Friday morning that Goretzka would be joining Bayern on a free transfer on July 1.
“We are losing a very, very good player,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “We did everything we could to try and keep him.”
This could leave Liverpool searching for an alternative to a young player who would have brought further forward thrust from Klopp’s midfield.Grujic Loan Terms Guarantee Key Cardiff Role
It could be that Klopp’s alternative to Goretzka is Marko Grujic, with the Serbian joining Cardiff City on Wednesday on a six-month loan deal.
Grujic has struggled for opportunities under Klopp since joining from Red Star Belgrade in 2016, with his switch to the Championship hopefuls designed to provide him with regular senior football.
And according to Cardiff manager Neil Warnock, he will be given the chance to impress, with Liverpool imposing ‘financial punishments‘ if Grujic doesn’t play enough football.
“We haven’t had to give assurances, but we get financially ‘punished’ if we don’t,” he said.
“But that’s quite acceptable and, to be honest, a good deal or both parties, because I want to play him, I’m not signing him to make the numbers up. He’s a good lad, and a good player.”City Join Race to Sign Free Agent Can?
But the failure to sign Goretzka piles considerable pressure on Liverpool to convince Emre Can his future remains at Anfield.
Can is in a similar situation to his compatriot, able to discuss terms with other clubs ahead of a free transfer in the summer, with both Juventus and Borussia Dortmund interested.
The Reds are still hopeful Can will put pen to paper on an extended deal, but their efforts may be thwarted by the emergence of another suitor.
However, they also claim that Can is not interested in joining Juventus as he would rather return to Bayern, with Arsenal also suggested as a possible alternative…in what is a mess of tabloid detritus.Hoffenheim Target Out-of-Favour Markovic
Grujic’s chances of salvaging a career on Merseyside are vastly superior to those of his compatriot, Lazar Markovic.
Though he has trained regularly under Klopp at Melwood this season, Markovic has been afforded just once appearance as an unused substitute on the first-team stage.
Having failed to establish himself since joining from Benfica in 2014, the winger is likely to leave in the January window.
And surprisingly, according to Sky Germany, Hoffenheim could give Markovic a lifeline.Liverpool ‘Winning Race’ For Next Charlton Prospect
The rise of Joe Gomez this season has been remarkable, with the 20-year-old recovering from a long-term injury absence to become one of Klopp’s most consistent figures.
This is a testament to the quality within the academy ranks at Charlton Athletic, and it could be that he is joined by a fellow Valley alumni in the near future.
According to Kent Live, they are “leading the race” to sign Charlton’s young centre-back Ezri Konsa.
They are said to have moved ahead of Everton as “Addicks’ owner Roland Duchatelet looks to cash in on his prize asset,” who has already made 68 first-team appearances.Reds Youngster Linked With Championship Move
Finally, as Liverpool continue to trim the deadwood in their academy ranks, long-serving centre-back Lloyd Jones could be nearing a permanent exit.
According to HITC Sport, Jones is attracting interest from Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Bradford City and Oxford United ahead of a possible January move.
Jones has no chance of breaking through into the senior setup, and a move to a League One side like Oxford may be the boost his fledgling career needs.
Robertson endured a slow start to his Liverpool career, as he grew accustomed to life in Klopp’s system, and saw Alberto Moreno selected ahead of him.
The left-back has proven to be a very good summer signing from Hull City, however, and he has flourished in the first weeks of 2018 in particular.
Excellent back-to-back performances at home to Everton and Man City have seen him become a crowd favourite, with his lung-busting energy and quality down the left flank not going unnoticed by supporters.
Klopp admits he is delighted with how Robertson is faring at the moment, speaking of his importance to this Liverpool side after a slightly shaky start.
“[He is] very important,” Klopp told reporters at Melwood on Friday.
“He was a nice prospect and a really big talent offensively, but maybe a few gaps to close in his defending.
“He was cool earlier in the season when he didn’t play, he was not in my office asking, ‘why don’t I play?’
“Moreno played fantastic apart from the Sevilla game but then he got injured.
“But for a club like Liverpool, it’s unbelievably important to have someone who can [step in] and it’s not a big bounce [without Moreno].”
Moreno has missed the last 10 games with an ankle injury picked up in Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Spartak Moscow in December, and could return to the matchday squad at Swansea City on Monday night.
This presents Klopp with a long-term selection quandary, with both of his senior left-backs in excellent form this season, but the German is embracing it as a positive.
“With Moreno on the way back we have two very good players for that position,” he continued.
“Andy has stepped up and done a really fantastic job, and it’s really nice as a manager to be part of it.
“You come to a new club and everybody is expecting the best from you from the first second.
“Everybody needs time to adapt—I’m happy that he had the time and used the time, and played like he did in the past few games.”
It would be extremely harsh to leave Robertson out for the trip to Swansea, but equally, you couldn’t complain if Moreno returned as first choice.
If Liverpool are to challenge across all fronts for the remainder of 2017/18, they need both left-backs fit and firing.
At long last, there is genuine depth in that area of the pitch.
Even then the 24-year-old was criticised for being beaten at his near post when Leroy Sane made it 1-1 just before half-time.
“It is a difficult job being a goalkeeper or centre-half at Liverpool because no-one forgives you one mistake,” said Klopp.
“Obviously since I’m in [as manager] it feels like ‘wow’, if our goalkeeper makes a mistake it is a disaster and if any another goalkeeper makes a mistake he is still a fantastic goalkeeper and we should buy him.
“I am fine with our goalkeeper situation. Yes, Loris could have made a save for the first goal against Man City even though I thought it was a world-class finish.
“He is a really good goalkeeper and we brought him in because we wanted him to play.
“But of course Loris has to deliver and he knows that.”
Liverpool have already been linked with a move for another goalkeeper in the summer after Mignolet said earlier this week he was considering his future at the club, saying: “This situation cannot last too long.”
Klopp picked Karius as his goalkeeper for Champions League matches this season and he conceded just six goals—three of which came in 45 minutes against Sevilla—in as many games during the group stage.
However, his longest run in the side as first choice came last season when he started 10 Premier League matches in a row before being taken out of the firing line after criticism for mistakes against Bournemouth and West Ham.
At the time the Reds boss admitted he had done it to protect his compatriot from the glare of the spotlight after his mistakes were picked apart by pundits.
“I’m not interested in public pressure, I’m interested in the boy. There’s no reason to push him through the situation, he loses confidence,” Klopp said 13 months ago.
Karius did not feature in another league match after being dropped on December 14, 2016 but has started four times this season, including the wins against Arsenal and City and the FA Cup victory over Everton.
“There were a few difficulties but meanwhile he has settled as well,” Klopp said.
“There are a lot of really good things in his game which are natural and I like them and now he can show them.
“We changed a lot of positions during the year not only with the goalkeeper but it looks like we have to stick to our opinions for 20 years if we have made a decision one time.
“I changed not my opinion but I changed the situation and that is all.
“He is the No. 1 and that means he can play a game and can concede a goal against Man [City]—it’s not that we want that but it is possible—but all the good things I’d like to see again.
“I saw a lot of good things in the games he played in the last few weeks and that is why he is in.”
The Reds will fly to Cardiff before travelling down the M4 to south Wales looking to extend their unbeaten run to 19 games.
That stretch already includes a 5-0 victory at home to Swansea on Boxing Day, but since then the hosts have seen a new manager installed in Carlos Carvalhal.
As a result, the Swans will be something of an unknown quantity on Monday, and speaking at Melwood on Friday afternoon Klopp vowed his side would respect their opposition.
“What you’ve seen since the [new] manager is in is a big improvement,” he told reporters.
“They’re doing well, that’s all we think about. I’m not even sure if we can look at our game against Swansea [as reference].
“We don’t think about the 5-0, we don’t think about [beating] Man City [on Sunday], we just think about what we have to do.
“Monday night, still a few days to go, hopefully we can make a choice of the lineup from a full squad and use the basis of this season so far.”
And the German discussed the possibility of further January transfers, suggesting Liverpool had already made their “big” signing in Van Dijk.
Liverpool have won three of their last five meetings with Swansea, including a 2-1 victory in their last away trip, and their strong form will give them confidence ahead of next week.
Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s winning mentality remains undimmed now he is a coach and his under-18 players will not need reminding of that this weekend.
His side host Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup which, at Gerrard’s request, will be played at Anfield on Saturday with a 3pm kick-off.
The youth team boss wants to see how his players cope under the pressure of a big-game atmosphere, but more importantly he wants them to bring home some silverware this season.
“I’d love some of these players to go on and play for Liverpool’s first team, I’d be the proudest man in the city, but I’m not coming in and taking a job at this football club if it’s just about that,” he said.
“If we’re not teaching kids about the importance of winning at a young age then maybe someone should say to me ‘You’re not welcome here’.
“That doesn’t float my boat – turning up on the weekend and it’s just about getting one player to the first team.
“I’m doing a disservice to football and the game if I’m saying to these that winning doesn’t matter because it does.”
Gerrard will not be able to call on the injured Rhian Brewster, golden boot winner as England were victorious at last summer’s Under-17 World Cup, but he could receive a boost if senior Wales international Ben Woodburn is made available by Jurgen Klopp.
Brewster, who has spent most of the season with Liverpool’s Under-23s, was in Gerrard’s thoughts before an ankle injury in Friday’s defeat to Manchester City which is likely to rule out the 17-year-old for some time.
“I don’t know the full extent but it is going to be a good while. I do not know the complete time-scale. He has further tests (in London),” Gerrard added.
Asked about the availability of Woodburn, who has played for him in the UEFA Youth League this season, Gerrard said: “I haven’t asked the question and no-one has mentioned it to me thus far so, at the moment, it’s a no.
“That might change in the next 24 hours.”
– Tickets for Saturday’s tie cost £3 for adults and £1 for juniors, young adults and over-65s.
Liverpool’s long unbeaten run over winter is impressive, but key January departures have to be replaced if the Reds are to maintain their challenge on three fronts.
Of course, quality will dictate just how far any push for honours go, but quantity is important too: the squad depth must be tended to.
Much was made of the boss’ tendency to swap players with such frequency as the fixtures piled up, but the points tally speaks for itself.
Across November and December in particular, the switches came with regularity, putting Klopp way out in front for number of changes to his starting XI for the Premier League season.
Indeed, for most Premier League seasons.
59 – Liverpool have made 59 changes to their starting XI so far this season in the league; only one team have made more in their opening 16 games to a Premier League campaign (Man Utd; 68 in 2001-02). Tinker. pic.twitter.com/N9eGU9t6oI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 12, 2017
But the results came, and fewer injuries were accumulated. Jordan Henderson suffered a spell out, and Daniel Sturridge has too, but few others: a week or so for Mohamed Salah, a short span for Dejan Lovren, a longer one for Alberto Moreno.
Considering the Reds played 15 matches in exactly two months, it was far from the devastation to the regular team it might have been.
And, it’s 18 matches unbeaten now since the fiasco at Wembley. With the likes of Swansea, West Brom and Huddersfield up next, it could go on a while longer yet.
Klopp has managed his squad well; even those who were out of the team for long stretches at the start of the campaign have been eased, or thrown, in to great effect.
For the first time in too long, it feels as though Liverpool almost have a deep squad which can cope with most injury build-ups…almost.
The defence had been stretched thin from time to time—notably with all three centre-backs on ice at one point—but Virgil van Dijk‘s arrival should fix those worries. Full-back is fine, with two on each side, James Milner as cover and others who can fill in.
It’s arguable that one more quality addition would be beneficial, particularly following Philippe Coutinho‘s departure, but it’s not essential for the pure numbers.
But in attack, the Reds’ situation is more precarious; that Coutinho departure leaves them on the brink.
The trio is unstoppable, exciting, relentless…and because of all that, they have to come out from time to time.
Their intensity and explosivity leaves them most prone to fatigue and injury, and there’s not a direct replacement in the squad for each other than shifting Oxlade-Chamberlain into the front line.
Sturridge, with his acceleration and scoring touch seemingly departed, just doesn’t offer the reliability or the reassurance that he can be the primary goal threat again, while Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke don’t have a goal between them.
Barring an unlikely return to prominence for Lazar Markovic, it’s in young talents that any further rotations most come from for Klopp, which makes it paramount that any further departures from the squad are replaced.
There have been rumours, concerning both Sturridge and Ings, that an Anfield exit could be imminent. Ovie Ejaria could leave on loan, Ben Woodburn has been sought after, even Harry Wilson would be snapped up by Championship sides if they were encouraged.
But the Reds cannot afford that, not without replacements.
One injury to a wide forward can just about be dealt with, now that Lallana is back and Henderson returning. The switch, both starting at times and in-game, to a 4-4-2 can also help in this regard.
But a rotation and an injury or suspension hitting at the same time will be tricky to deal with.
Up until the end of February, it won’t be much of an issue. One game a week for the most part, time to train, time to recover.
But come March, if the Reds progress past Porto and West Brom in each cup in turn, the pile-up will come fast once again.
Klopp has already shown he can switch personnel effectively—but only if he’s got the numbers there.
Coutinho’s departure will hit Liverpool hardest not when the remaining three-pronged front line are fit and healthy, but when one is missing.
No replacement midfield schemer isn’t the real issue, not right now at least, but Coutinho provided drive and a goal threat in the final third.
A single departure more and Liverpool, and Klopp, have to act.
The squad has worked wonders to get themselves into this position, but it has very much been a cumulative, group effort—and the same again will be needed in the final weeks and months.
Transfer rumours continue to circle over possible ins and outs at Liverpool before the January transfer window shuts.
While most winter windows tend to be filled with outlandish claims and improbable links, many of those featuring the Reds this season seem to be valid, or at least a good fit.
Here is a complete round-up of the latest rumours concerning the Anfield corridors…Juve confirm approach for Emre
At present there’s no agreement—Emre himself alluded to as much—but the Turin giants have clearly earmarked him as a key target.
Able to discuss terms freely now over a summer move, Can will doubtless be on the radars of several big clubs thanks to his soon-to-be ended contract.
The German international is, however, still open to the possibility of signing a new contract and extending his stay at Liverpool.
Continual progression, a key role in the team and a strong finish to the campaign could be vital to keeping him beyond summer 2018.Sturridge tipped for move to Europe
However, no official bid has yet been made and Liverpool are thought to want a permanent move which meets their demands.
Previous rumours have put those demands at around the £30 million mark, while Sturridge’s wages have also been cited as prohibitive for some clubs.
Inter Milan are credited with an interest again elsewhere, as they have been in recent weeks, but Sevilla may make more sense for Sturridge, who wants game time to secure a World Cup spot.
The Spanish side have rotated between Wissam Ben Yedder and Luis Muriel up front this term, but they have netted just five and three goals in La Liga respectively.
It seems a more realistic battle for Sturridge to find a starting role than by heading to Inter, where he would be up against 18-goal Mauro Icardi.Reds in a four-way battle for Seri
Much of summer 2017 centred around would-be moves by various clubs for Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri.
Barcelona had the strongest rumoured interest, though the Reds and other sides were also in the mix—only for the Ivory Coast international to remain in Ligue 1.
Now with just 18 months left on his deal and a €40 million release clause in place, he’s back on clubs’ radars.
While the suggestion is that the quartet will be in for Seri in the summer, that sort of figure—around £35 million—would barely register for most of those teams if they opted to move right now.
It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the fee received for Coutinho, or the potential money being spent on Alexis Sanchez by the Manchester clubs.
So it’s not entirely inconceivable that, if genuine, the interest could be brought forward by the Reds—particularly after not being able to bring in Naby Keita earlier than planned.Goretzka remaining in Bundesliga
One of the potential replacements for if Emre Can departed on a free transfer, Leon Goretzka shares similarities with the Reds’ No. 23 and his present situation.
He’s a German central midfielder, out of contract in the summer…and able to discuss terms now with new clubs.
Liverpool had been credited with an interest and made their feelings known to the Schalke man.
But Goretzka’s camp didn’t offer too much in the way of encouragement, report the Echo.
Instead, the Anfield club believe he’s likely to remain in the German top flight, making the switch instead to the league’s most powerful club, Bayern Munich.
It would follow a familiar pattern in the league where the best homegrown players are snapped up by Bayern, strengthening their own team and damaging their rivals at the same time.
Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy have travelled that path of late and Liverpool look set to miss out as the trend continues.Klopp wants to keep Woodburn around
Young forward Ben Woodburn had been tipped for a loan move for the remainder of the season after playing just once this term for the seniors.
Sunderland was the most likely destination after Chris Coleman, his former boss with the Wales national team setup, took over at the Wearsiders.
But Sky Sports report that the move is now off.
If the above Sturridge rumours are true, of course, it stands to reason that the boss wants another attacking option available to him.
For now, Woodburn remains a Liverpool player, but he will certainly hope for more action in the second half of the season.
It was originally a possibility for the Reds to feature in a third-round clash using VAR technology—but a Merseyside derby against Everton, as it turned out to be, was thought to be too high-profile a game for a testing ground.
Now the FA have confirmed on Thursday that VAR will be in use at Anfield for the fourth round instead.
It will be only the fourth time the technology will have been in use this term as England trial VAR in the FA Cup.
The visit of West Brom comes after the Reds’ next fixture, away to Swansea on Monday night, and will be shown live on BT Sport.
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is a target for Sevilla, and the Spanish club have reportedly made contact with the Reds over a move.
The No. 15 has missed the last nine matches with injury and the Reds have not shown too many signs of missing him, roaring to a five-match win streak of late and scoring 15 goals in the process.
Now Sky Sports report Spanish side Sevilla want to take the England international on loan until the end of the campaign—though no official bid has been made yet.
Liverpool are thought to want a permanent move over a loan deal if Sturridge is to depart Anfield this month.
The striker has played only around 500 minutes this term, scoring three goals, the most recent of which came against Maribor on November 1.
It continues a downturn in fortunes for Sturridge, who had such an exciting and explosive start to his Liverpool career—but which could end in a disappointing fade-away.
The Reds could be left somewhat short in attack if he does indeed depart, following Philippe Coutinho‘s sale to Barcelona, but Sturridge wants more game time in the second half of the campaign to win himself a World Cup spot with England.
A permanent move might be best for all parties, but the Reds have yet to see any willing suitors come forward to match their demands.
Jordan Henderson is back in training with the first team, with the Liverpool captain having been sidelined through injury since December 22.
In his absence, the centre of the park has changed somewhat, with Philippe Coutinho being sold, Emre Can taking over as the regular No. 6 and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moving in from a wing role to the centre on more than one occasion.
The Reds don’t play again until Monday evening, leaving another three days of training ground action for Henderson to prove his fitness and be involved.
He has completed 14 full 90-minute outings in the league this season, along with a further four in cup competitions, after suffering two years of regular injuries recently.
While Henderson may have a big battle on his hands now to regain his first-team berth immediately, with performances and results impressive in his absence, there will again come a time for Klopp to rotate heavily.
Liverpool remaining fighting on three fronts heading into the second half of the season and a fully fit Henderson could play a valuable tactical role.
While he has most frequently been used as the deepest midfielder in a three this term, Henderson could perform a similar role to that which Oxlade-Chamberlain has at times as the fluid midfield switches from a three to a four, drifting into the channels in-play.
Furthermore with Emre Can‘s future still unresolved, it’s vital Klopp has all his players fit and available and fully focused on completing a successful season—hopefully with Henderson lifting silverware at the end of it.
Woodburn burst onto the scene last term, scoring in the League Cup against Leeds and playing nine times for the senior team overall.
But this year has been more about developing in training and with the U-23s, with Woodburn seeing first-team action just once.
It has led to a surge in interest in the 18-year-old with Championship sides hoping to snare his services for the second half of 2017/18.
Sunderland were the front-runners, with Chris Coleman—previously Woodburn’s boss with the Wales national team—having taken over as manager at the Stadium of Light.
But Sky Sports now report the deal is off, with Woodburn set to stay at Anfield.
He can feature as a second forward, a wide option or even as a No. 8 creative midfielder—all roles Coutinho took up this term prior to his departure to La Liga.
He has also captained the Reds in the UEFA Youth League, where they won five of the six group games.
Richard Jolly looks at Liverpool’s transfer strategy and how a two-tier system is seemingly in place under Jurgen Klopp.
A Liverpool defender was always going to figure prominently in Sunday’s plotline. Manchester City were visiting; the same City who had coveted Virgil van Dijk; the same Van Dijk who had become the world’s most expensive defender and who was due to make his league bow.
Instead, injury denied him a top-flight bow. Instead, the stand-out figure at the back in Liverpool’s 4-3 win was Andrew Robertson, the scourge of the returning Raheem Sterling.
Robertson cost £67 million less than Van Dijk. The men who should comprise the left half of Liverpool’s back four represent opposite sides of a policy.
The Dutchman joins Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and next summer’s arrival Naby Keita in the expensive section. Robertson ranks alongside Dominic Solanke, Marko Grujic, Joel Matip, Loris Karius and Ragnar Klavan on the cheaper side of the equation.
And a two-tier transfer strategy has been cemented under Jurgen Klopp. Wijnaldum cost £25 million and all the other big buys at least £34 million. None of the small signings came for more than the £8 million Robertson.
What Liverpool have done in the Klopp era is to eradicate the in-between acquisitions, footballers who arrived for substantial prices but who were not at the top of their trade or on top of their shortlists. In short, they have not got a Mario Balotelli or a Lazar Markovic.
The Italian and the Serb arrived for a combined £36 million, or almost half of the fee Liverpool received for Luis Suarez.
When Markovic is finally offloaded, they will have lost the vast majority of that £36 million. They were Moneyball gone wrong (Emre Can, who arrived that summer for a slightly cheaper fee, could be deemed Moneyball gone right, but for the probability he will leave on a free transfer).
Balotelli and Markovic were also uneasy compromises. There was little pretence either was Brendan Rodgers’ preferred recruit for their respective roles. Their handling reflected as much. Their performances reflected poorly on those who identified them.No-Comprise A-List
In contrast, Klopp’s A-list arrivals have been players he definitely wanted. He has shown a willingness to listen, and Liverpool’s scouting team were persuasive and correct in their analysis that Salah would be ideal, but once he pursues a target, his focus rarely shifts.
He has shown a refusal to compromise. He would rather persist with his existing players than end up with a fourth-, fifth- or sixth-choice signing. He waited for Van Dijk. He is waiting for Keita. The sense is that he would have waited for Oxlade-Chamberlain, too. There is a long-termism.
The German has been accused of hypocrisy for objecting to the English obsession with the transfer market and then spending heavily, but those charges are based on an inadequate understanding of his thinking.
He would rather sign no one than the wrong player, Balotelli-style. Some of his choices can be quixotic but so far, none of his bigger buys have failed. Salah, in particular, has been a spectacular success.
Some would say they ought to succeed. When Keita comes, five of the six most expensive signings in Liverpool’s history will be Klopp’s, something that only partially reflects the recent inflation in the market.
Van Dijk cost 50 percent more than any other centre-back in footballing history, Oxlade-Chamberlain £35 million when he would have been available on a free transfer 10 months later. Yet there is a logic to top clubs paying over the odds as long as those signings succeed, as Pep Guardiola argued when asked about Van Dijk’s fee.
Get the right player and, providing he is young enough, a position can be locked down for years, instead of recruiting a series of cheaper and inferior versions, spending time and money on them and with the possibility that each newcomer may fail to settle. Liverpool’s volte-face is a sign that the thinking behind the buys of Balotelli and Markovic was flawed.Bargains
In contrast, there was a financial logic to the recruitment of the assorted finds in the bargain basement. Only Matip of them is an automatic choice, though that number should soon be doubled by Robertson.
But had Alberto Moreno not got injured, had the Scot not taken his chance with the assuredness that means he ought to be the regular regardless of the Spaniard’s fitness, then Liverpool would scarcely have lost out financially. They could have sold the former Hull man next summer for a similar or higher amount.
Klavan is another case in point. He has done well at times, less well at others. Instead of bringing him in from Augsburg, Liverpool could have found a centre-back of a similar standard in the Premier League.
However, dad they done so he would probably have cost substantially more; perhaps £15 million, instead of £4 million. And were he, like the Estonian, 32, they may have been looking at a loss of at least £10 million when he departed. Instead, when Klavan goes, it should be with Liverpool’s best wishes and no regrets.
Because the B-list arrivals are relatively risk-free. Even in the worst-case scenario, Liverpool were never going to lose much money in the transfer market. Some offer the potential to prove hugely profitable.
It is a policy that allows Liverpool to take futuristic or optimistic punts, sometimes on developmental players, without them being much of gambles.Learning
Arguably that began before Klopp – because Matip and Robertson were joined by the £3.5 million capture Joe Gomez, three-quarters of the back four against City came for a combined £11.5 million – and if such a strategy has seemed to backfire at times – Rickie Lambert and Adam Bogdan’s Anfield careers scarcely fall into the category marked ‘glorious successes’ – the problems are only partly caused by poor identification of targets. The issue with Lambert was that Liverpool found themselves relying on a £4 million forward.
If Liverpool appear to have learned from their past, there may be a sense they have refined a theory from history. Real Madrid used to deal in Zidanes y Pavones, Galacticos and nobodies. It didn’t work. Liverpool’s looks a cleverer variant: as they already have a sizeable squad, they are not depending on cut-price players to occupy pivotal roles, week in, week out.
If Liverpool’s transfer-market policy consists of Van Dijks ‘n’ Robertsons, without the kind of half-way house, compromise signings that seem to frustrate Antonio Conte at Chelsea, it is partly because the Robertsons, the men who cost under £10 million, help free up funds for the Van Dijks.
Liverpool are looking in wildly different markets in a two-pronged approach that cuts out the false economies of the middlemen.
Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic has moved to Championship side Cardiff City on loan for the rest of the season.
The 21-year-old Serbian has struggled to make an impact in the first-team since his arrival at the club a year and a half ago and time on loan will give him valuable playing time.
Grujic will be hoping to achieve big things with the Welsh club – who are just two points behind second place Derby County at present.
Liverpool are understood to have allowed Grujic to join Neil Warnock’s side after being given assurances that the player will receive regular playing time.
While it’s a good move for the player, it’s a shame to see us helping out a manager like Warnock – hopefully the club are receiving a fee for the loan.
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) January 17, 2018
Liverpool currently have 12 more players out on loan, having recently recalled Ryan Kent from loan after he received little playing time at Freiburg. He has since joined Bristol City, also promotion contenders in the Championship.
Grujic featured six times for Liverpool this season, starting just once at Leicester in the League Cup.
There January transfer window closes two weeks today; we take a look at what may or may not materialise over this next fortnight.
It has already been a relatively busy month for the Reds, both on and off the pitch.
It is now 18 matches unbeaten for the Reds and next up is a trip to bottom-place Swansea City on Monday night.
With the transfer window closing on January 31, there are still incomings and outgoings that need to be sorted.
Here are 10 remaining questions that stand out this month.Will Lemar interest come to fruition?
With Naby Keita staying put at Leipzig until the summer and Coutinho gone, reinforcements are needed in attacking midfield.
Granted, Liverpool were magnificent in the middle of the park against Man City, but a lack of top quality depth there is now evident.
Klopp is being very cagey about any potential signings, but it would be a surprise if further efforts weren’t made to sign Monaco’s Thomas Lemar this month.
The 22-year-old is seen as one of Liverpool’s main transfer targets, and constant rumours have suggested a £90 million move may come to fruition in January.
A summer arrival feels more likely, but the club are impossible to predict these days.Will there be a surprise addition?
Earlier in the month, there were suggestions that a “mystery man” may make the switch to Anfield in January – a signing out of nothing.
Those reports seem to have cooled a bit, but does Klopp have a stellar purchase up his sleeve?
The likes of Christian Pulisic, Riyad Mahrez, Julian Draxler and Mauro Icardi are all names who have been mentioned – any of them would be great additions.
Don’t bet against a shock signing occurring before the month is out.Is Sturridge’s time at Anfield up?
Daniel Sturridge‘s Liverpool career looked to be a great one in the first 18 months, but injuries have destroyed his progress.
The 28-year-old is now very much a squad player and he is reported to be keen on leaving Anfield before the window shuts, with £30 million believed to grant him that request.
Should he leave, it will be a low-key end to a five-year spell that has seen many moments of brilliance.Is January too soon for a new goalkeeper?
Loris Karius again failed his audition as Liverpool’s No.1 at the weekend, allowing Leroy Sane’s shot past his near post.
It is plain to see that top-class goalkeeper must arrive to take the Reds to the next level, but will that happen in January?
The chances appear slim, with Karius now looking set to have an extended run in the team, but it should still be encouraged.
Roma’s Allison and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak have both been linked with the club, and either would be a tremendous addition.
Don’t bank on it happening this month.Are Woodburn, Wilson and Ward going to go out on loan?
With Liverpool’s first-team flying at the moment, chances for youngsters to come in and impress are few and far between.
Huge things are expected of Woodburn in the future, but he has only made one League Cup appearance in 2017/18, and is too good for the U23s. He needs regular football in the Championship, ideally.
Wilson is another who cannot keep playing in the younger age groups, and he needs to ply his trade elsewhere for a few months, in order to grow as a player.
Ward is very much third-choice behind Simon Mignolet and Karius, despite their respective shortcomings, and he won’t play for Liverpool any time soon.
Whether or not any of the trio leave this month remains to be seen, but it would be a missed opportunity if they stayed put.Is Ings set for pastures new?
Much like Sturridge, it is difficult to see Danny Ings being part of Klopp’s future plans at Liverpool.
He has suffered horrendous bad luck after picking up back-to-back cruciate ligament injuries, and there is every chance he will never be the same player again.
Ings needs to join a team who can offer him a first-choice starting role up front, or least second-choice, and January is a good opportunity for him to move on.
Of course, if he is allowed to leave, along with Sturridge, striking reinforcements are essential for the Reds.What next for Flanagan?
Having been something of a cult hero after some excellent performances in 2013/14, Jon Flanagan‘s reputation has suffered in both his personal and professional life since.
The 25-year-old has absolutely no future at Liverpool, and internal disciplinary proceedings may see his contract terminated.
If not, would a club come in for him on loan given his recent indiscretions?Can Grujic shine at Cardiff?
There are a few contenders for ‘Liverpool’s Forgotten Man Award’, and Marko Grujic has to be in the reckoning.
The Serb hasn’t managed to nail down a regular midfield berth over the last 18 months and has now joined Cardiff on loan for the rest of the season.
It’s a move that’s much needed for the 21-year-old and it will be interesting to see what impact he has at Championship level. A failure to impress there will surely see a departure again in the summer, either on loan again or even permanently.Will Bogdan ever play football again?
You could be forgiven for forgetting Adam Bogdan even exists, but incredibly, the goalkeeper is still a Liverpool player.
The Hungarian has not played for the Reds since the final day of the 2015/16 season, when he started in a 1-1 draw at West Brom.
He has since enjoyed a brief loan spell at Wigan, but at the moment, but all he is doing currently is twiddling his thumbs at Anfield.
You would have thought the player himself would want first-team football somewhere, and if Liverpool receive any kind of offer, they should accept.
At the moment, he is just an unnecessary addition to the club’s wage bill.Will anyone take forgotten man Markovic?
Just like Bogdan, it is almost embarrassing to call Lazar Markovic a Liverpool player these days.
The Serb arrived as such an exciting, highly-rated youngster in 2014, but he has never reached the required standards, and must be sold.
It is worrying that a 23-year-old wouldn’t be keen for another challenge elsewhere, and says all you need to know about his desire at the top level.
If someone is willing to take a punt on him this month, it would bring an end to a Reds career that has mustered just three goals in 34 appearances.
Liverpool FC have released a statement after defender Jon Flanagan was sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid work and a community order for assaulting his girlfriend.
The 25-year-old was sentenced on Wednesday, having pleaded guilty to common assault by beating of Rachael Wall at an earlier hearing.
A statement from Liverpool condemned the player’s actions and said internal disciplinary action will follow.
“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the player’s actions during the events that took place resulting in this criminal conviction.
“It leaves his own reputation damaged and, through association, he has severely let down the club he had previously represented with distinction.
“We have expressed to him our disappointment and anger that he has failed to live up to the values of Liverpool Football Club, in this specific instance.
“The club has allowed the legal formalities to reach a conclusion before deciding on or implementing any internal disciplinary action. That internal process will now begin.
“The club has no further comment to make at this time.”
The Liverpool Echo report that CCTV captured Flanagan grabbing his girlfriend around the throat before shoving her into a wall on two occasions.
On the second occasion, she could be seen falling to the floor, at which point Flanagan kicks her to the body.
Flanagan told the court that he and his girlfriend were still in a relationship and they are “working hard to get it back on track” after the incident.
The player, who has made just one appearance this season – at Leicester in the League Cup – currently has a contract at Anfield until June 2019.
Roberto Firmino has given a rare interview to the official LFC website, discussing his work rate, goals, celebrations and adaptation to life as a No.9.
Firmino made the £29 million switch to Anfield in July 2015, and after a slow start under Brendan Rodgers, he started to find his feet once Jurgen Klopp took charge.
The 26-year-old has now matured into one of the most effective, underrated players in Europe, with 17 goals to his name this season, and so much more to his game.
He was again outstanding in the 4-3 win over Man City on Sunday, leading the line and dinking a delightful Robbie Fowler-esque finish past Ederson to make it 2-1.
Firmino says his work-rate and tactical intelligence are areas he prides himself on, and admits he is loving his relatively new role as a striker.
“I wasn’t a striker before but as I’ve been adapting into this position I’ve liked it more and more,” Firmino told Liverpoolfc.com, in a fascinating interview.
“I feel really comfortable and really adapted to it. I’d like to continue playing there for the rest of my career.”
While some supporters have yearned for a prolific No.9 in Liverpool’s attack, Firmino brings much more than just goals to the team.
“I work hard and I want to help my teammates,” he says. “It’s not always the goal itself, though the goal is the fruit of the work we’ve done which is why of course when I score, it’s always good.”
Firmino’s ability and tactical understanding to nick the ball off the toes of opposing defenders and midfielders is a key ingredient in Klopp’s tactical plan and one which the Brazilian recognises the importance of.
“I like to work hard. I like to drop back and help defend because that then turns into attack, turns into goals, so I don’t mind being called the ‘engine’ of the team.”
The likeable forward has been providing some entertaining celebrations this season and explained them, saying: “Well, when I was a kid, I used to do a goal celebration that was a back-flip.
“I did it a lot when I was younger. It’s something I wanted to do [again], but maybe it’s best not to try! I did it up to four years ago, but not anymore!”
In what is an extremely rare interview, Firmino comes across exactly as he does as a player: intellectual, thoughtful and enthusiastic.
He is a phenomenal footballer – one who is finally starting to receive more widespread recognition – and he is indispensable to Jurgen Klopp‘s side.
There have been reports that Liverpool want to tie Firmino down to a very long-term contract – the sooner that gets done, the better.
We round up the latest Liverpool FC transfer news and rumours, as Jurgen Klopp‘s side head into a crucial second half of the January window.
Reds supporters are still bouncing off the walls after Sunday’s incredible 4-3 win over Man City, taking their unbeaten run to 18 games in the process.
The Anfield thriller was a welcome distraction from the transfer window, for a few hours at least, but we are in for a busy next couple of weeks.
Philippe Coutinho‘s exit means plenty of funds are available, should Klopp feel the need to buy new players this month, and certain individuals may also be leaving the club.
Here’s the latest from the rumour mill.Did Malcom’s Manager Reveal Liverpool Interest?
Bordeaux’s highly rated Brazilian forward Malcom has been hotly tipped to join Arsenal this month, as the Gunners look to fill an Alexis Sanchez-shaped void.
However his manager, Jocelyn Gourvennec, has tossed Liverpool’s name into the ring, despite no real interest in the player reported.
“I can’t deny that he’s being followed by a lot of people,” Gourvennec said.
“He’s asking himself what’s the best thing for him, for his future. That’s logical. If he’s asking questions and he still manages to make assists or score goals, it’ll be fine.
“If Liverpool want you to work for them tomorrow, you’d go.”
It is a fairly tenuous rumour, but could the club be tempted to act on Gourvennec’s words and attempt to sign Malcom?
He would certainly be an exciting purchase, with many desperate to see Coutinho replaced, but it feels very unlikely.Can to Extend His Reds Stay?
Emre Can‘s Liverpool future has looked cloudy for a while, with his contract ticking down and Juventus showing genuine interest in him.
Although many have been resigned to losing the marauding midfielder this summer, the Guardian‘s Andy Hunter, among others, has suggested a new deal at Anfield could still happen.
Can himself insists a decision about his next move has not been made yet.
“My agent is looking after everything but I am here until the summer,” the midfielder revealed.
“I haven’t signed anything with anyone. I am talking with everyone. Of course I am talking with Liverpool. Why not? I still have a contract here. It is an amazing club.
“What can I say? My agent does the rest. I just concentrate on the scene, on my performance and the football. I will give everything for this team.”
Can was outstanding in Sunday’s win over City, again showing how criminal it would be to lose him on a free transfer this summer.Mignolet Hints at Anfield Exit – Napoli Move Likely?
Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius have been sharing goalkeeping duties for Liverpool this season, but it now looks as though Klopp has chosen the latter as his first-choice ‘keeper for the rest of the season.
Mignolet appears to be stung by this decision, and although he denies any kind of feud with Klopp, he admits he is now considering his future.
“After everything that has happened this season, I know where I stand, and the situation has become clearer,” Mignolet said.
“I always try to stay calm, and I have already grown stronger from such situations.
“But of course I also have to think about my own future, the only thing I can do is focus on the training and do my best.”
On Tuesday, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad linked Mignolet with a €20 million switch to Serie A leaders Napoli.
Ironically, should a move to Naples materialise, it means he would once again replace the man he usurped on Merseyside in 2013: Pepe Reina.Allison & Oblak on Liverpool’s Radar
It is very clear that Klopp needs to bring in a superior goalkeeper to Mignolet and Karius next season—this month would be even better—and he appears to be actively searching for one.
According to Paul Joyce of the Times, Allison and Jan Oblak, of Roma and Atletico Madrid respectively, are two legitimate targets moving forward.
The report does state that “negotiations on a fee could prove difficult” with Allison, who is Brazil’s No. 1 ahead of City’s Ederson, but Liverpool’s interest is genuine.
Oblak, described by Joyce as “another potential candidate,” is one of the world’s best ‘keepers, and would be an outstanding acquisition.
A top-class man between the sticks would improve this Liverpool side immeasurably.Grujic to Head to the Championship on Loan
It is very difficult to see Marko Grujic getting any first-team action this season, unless the Reds pick up a desperately unlucky number of injuries.
The 21-year-old has struggled since arriving from Red Star Belgrade in 2016, and a loan move to the Championship in January is on the cards, according to the Liverpool Echo.
There has been interest from Premier League pair Huddersfield Town and West Ham, as well as Turkish giants Galatasaray, but Pearce states that “Liverpool have been seeking guarantees that Grujic would start matches rather than simply be a squad player.”
A number of Championship clubs are keen on acquiring the services of the towering midfielder, and Liverpool are now considering the offers on the table.
It will be good for Grujic to get some regular football under his belt, perhaps returning a more rounded player in the summer.
Firmino has shone since being installed as Jurgen Klopp‘s first-choice striker last season, and so far this term has scored 17 and assisted nine in 31 games.
And speaking after that Anfield victory, Carragher lauded Firmino’s all-round game, highlighting why he is so underrated compared to the likes of Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero.
“He’s highly rated by Jurgen Klopp but outside Liverpool he’s not mentioned when talked about top strikers.
“He’s got 17 goals this season—he’s the first name on the teamsheet.
“Yes, you’ve got Salah and Mane, but Firmino’s holdup play and work off the ball makes him one of the best attacking players in the Premier League. He’s a top player.”
Firmino’s output in front of goal has steadily improved since joining from Hoffenheim in 2015, but as statistics from Oulala prove, his defensive efforts have been consistently top-level:
Beyond being the Premier League‘s joint-sixth highest scorer with 10 goals, and joint-13th in terms of assists, with five, Firmino is a standout talent off the ball.
No forward has won more tackles than the 26-year-old (125) since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, with second-best Jordan Ayew (88) producing considerably fewer throughout his spells with Aston Villa and Swansea City.
Widely coveted for his blend of industry and attacking quality, Arsenal‘s Alexis Sanchez has won 46 fewer tackles than Firmino, with 79.
Impressively, no forward in the English top flight has made more successful tackles and interceptions combined than Firmino (180) since August 2015.
Ayew is his closest rival, with 138, highlighting the chasm between Liverpool’s No. 9 and any other striker as a front-footed option.
In short, the Brazil international is the ideal centre-forward for Klopp, and with the Reds hoping to tie him down to a new long-term contract, he is certainly not underrated at Anfield.
Liverpool are interested in both Roma’s Alisson and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak as they prepare to sign a new goalkeeper in the summer window.
Karius has started in both of the last two games, with Klopp confirming after Sunday’s 4-3 win at home to Man City that his young compatriot is now No. 1.
This has led to Mignolet considering his options, with the 29-year-old explaining that “this situation can not last too long” as he eyes a place in Belgium’s World Cup squad.
Given the instability of the January market it had been unlikely Liverpool would make a move for a new goalkeeper this month, despite links with both Alisson and Jack Butland.
But according to the Times‘ Paul Joyce, Klopp has set his sights on signing another stopper ahead of 2018/19.
Alisson is one of the targets named, but “negotiations on a fee could prove difficult” after Liverpool secured a bargain with the £36.9 million signing of Mohamed Salah from Roma in June.
The Brazilian is valued at £44 million which, given the landscape of the current market, could still be a worthwhile outlay.
Meanwhile Oblak, who has established himself as one of Europe’s leading goalkeepers during his three-and-a-half seasons with Atleti, is “another potential candidate” with an £89 million release clause.
Despite reservations over Roma’s demands, Alisson is the more realistic target for Liverpool at this stage, though Oblak is the most interesting.
Having joined from Benfica in 2014, the Slovenian has risen to prominence in La Liga, and in the past two seasons has won Marca‘s Zamora Trophy for the lowest goals-to-games ratio.
In his second year in Madrid he conceded just 18 goals in the entirety of the domestic campaign, equalling Deportivo de La Coruna goalkeeper Francisco Liano’s record from 1993/94.
And so far this season he has kept 12 clean sheets in just 19 league games, conceding eight goals in 1,710 minutes of football, or one every 213.8 minutes.
Oblak is an elite-level goalkeeper who only just turned 25, with considerable scope to develop further if he made the move to the Premier League.
Activating his release clause would require breaking Liverpool’s transfer record once again, but it would arguably be a wise move to shore up Klopp’s back line for the rest of his tenure.