Liverpool: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrated Friday a contract extension for star defender Virgil van Dijk. He also defended Liverpool’s lack of outlay on players compared to some of their rivals this off-season.”We can’t spend money we don’t have,” Jurgen Klopp said.
Van Dijk has signed a new deal until 2025. It is a huge vote of confidence by Liverpool in a player who has not featured in a competitive match for 10 months. This is because of a serious knee injury the player sustained early last season. However, Van Dijk hopes to start his first match since October in Liverpool’s Premier League opener Saturday against Norwich.
“I feel like I am ready for the weekend. So we’ll see what the manager decides,” said the 30-year-old Van Dijk, whose previous deal ran until 2023.
Klopp said he has not yet made a decision, though indicated Van Dijk was in position to start. “He is now training with the team for 3½ weeks and he has played minutes in different games,” Klopp said. “He has played long – he could have played 90 minutes in the last game, we just didn’t try – so he is in good shape. He is a really important player for us so we are really happy with the situation,” the German added.
Manchester City and Chelsea have spent club-record fees – of USD 139 million and USD 135 million, respectively – on Jack Grealish and Romelu Lukaku. Manchester United’s outlay will be up to USD 150 million on Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. However, in comparison, Liverpool’s only arrival has been centre-back Ibrahima Konate for a reported USD 50 million.
Klopp suggested Liverpool will not be making any more signings. He said the Reds ‘cannot compare with other clubs’.
“They obviously don’t have any limits. We have limits. But we were quite successful even with having limits in the last four years. That is what we should try again, and not use it as an excuse. We can’t spend money we don’t have. We cannot, maybe others can,” Klopp pointed out.
Klopp was asked specifically why Liverpool hasn’t replaced Georginio Wijnaldum. He ran down his contract and opted to join PSG in the off-season. Klopp said he had enough options in his squad to cover for the loss of the Netherlands midfielder. Young players Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott are set to play bigger roles in the squad this season.
“I’m in my sixth year here and pretty much apart from the year we signed Ali (Alisson) and Virg (Van Dijk), it’s always the same. It looks like always we don’t sign enough, we don’t do enough,” Klopp pointed out.
“But I think the most important thing, and I think the fans agree with this, is having a group together who are fun to watch, fighting together, who are is definitely 100 per cent committed to the club and the values. We have that. We cannot just add on players to the squad and say, ‘Let’s have a look how that works’. You have to deal with the squad the whole year,” asserted the manager.
Liverpool won the league by 18 points in the 2019-20 season only to finish third last season. They trailed by 17 points behind eventual winners Manchester City.