Jurgen Klopp must change Liverpool transfer plan and break his golden rule – Paul Gorst


Jurgen Klopp has never bowed to populist opinion as Liverpool manager.

Throughout his five years in the Anfield hotseat, Klopp has often swam against the strength of public tide, preferring to do things his own way.

“I am not a control freak,” he professes in new Liverpool documentary ‘The End Of The Storm’. “I just think things should happen in a specific way.”

Take, for example, his handling over the Reds’ jaunt to the Club World Cup last year.

To many on these shores, the mid-season trip to Qatar was an unnecessary risk to his side’s Premier League title aims.

Rather than sending a youth team to the middle east and contesting a Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa, instead, Klopp marched to his own drum.

He would be rewarded for the courage of his convictions as Liverpool won the only trophy that had previously eluded them before returning to England to tighten their grip on the title with a 4-0 win at Leicester on Boxing Day.

A few months later, Klopp would once again face howls of derision when he revealed an unwanted FA Cup replay would be no reason to cancel a week off for him and his players.

A draining couple of months of football between December and January left the Reds squad eagerly anticipating some time off when a draw with Shrewsbury threw up the prospect of Anfield replay.

Rather than renege on the promise to his players – many of whom had holidays with their families booked – Klopp asked Neil Critchley to lead a youth side into a battle they would win.

Again, Klopp ignored the noise from outside the Liverpool bunker to do what he felt was right. Once more, it was proven to be the correct decision.

Perhaps the biggest example of Klopp drowning out external clamour, however, was when Liverpool stepped away from signing Virgil van Dijk in the summer of 2017.

Rather than pursuing an alternative after relations soured with Southampton, Klopp held his nerve and waited.

Six months later, despite much criticism – particularly after a 4-1 defeat at Spurs – the Reds boss had his man.

The £75million Van Dijk has since been credited with transforming Liverpool from contenders to champions.

A runners-up spot in last year’s Ballon d’Or awards more than vindicated Klopp’s strength of character to ignore calls to chase another option at the time.

Yes, Klopp is his own man when it comes to big calls for his Liverpool side. No other area demonstrates that more than the transfer market.

When faced with huge pressure to dip their toe in back in the summer months, Klopp’s stance was firm and consistent.

“Due to COVID-19 you have to think five times about what you can and what you can’t do,” Klopp said in August, reiterating a line he had stood behind for months.

The structuring over the deals for Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara – coupled with the fact the club recouped £50m from sales – was proof the Reds boss was not paying lip service to the financial implications of the pandemic.

More often than not, Klopp has resisted the urge to succumb to those whose pleas for more transfers are endless.

But could the string of setbacks in Liverpool’s defence this season force Klopp’s hand in the January market this time around?

Get all the latest updates on Joe Gomez’s injury after he underwent successful surgery on Thursday, plus breaking news and analysis of what’s next for the Reds.

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Mid-season incomings are something of a rarity for the Reds under the German.

Across his four Januarys at Anfield to date, only Van Dijk and Takumi Minamino can be considered as long-term, senior additions.

Marko Grujic was added in his first window before being loaned back to Red Star Belgrade in 2016, but it was the signing of another that window – and the reasons for it – that might pique the interest of supporters nearly five years on.

The arrival of Steven Caulker was a left-field one at the time, but the centre-back was brought to the club to help, you guessed it, an injury crisis at centre-back.

“It was very important for us. In our situation,” Klopp said at the time. “Four weeks ago we didn’t know we’d have a problem with centre-halves because they were all in the race.

“At the start of the season, Joe Gomez was also in the squad, so a fifth centre-half – and then the situation changed completely.

Jurgen Klopp

“The situation is Martin Skrtel is not available for around about the next five weeks. Then we have the problem with Dejan Lovren.

“Then you have Mamadou Sakho – he can play, but it’s not perfect and you cannot bring him three or four times in a row throughout the season.

“And it’s the same for Kolo Toure and so would mean we are always in this situation, do we have enough or not? So we thought, ‘Yes, good idea’”.

As Liverpool face up to the foreseeable future without Van Dijk and Gomez at the same time Fabinho is struggling and question marks remain over Joel Matip’s long-term durability, Klopp may sense some deja vu.

Who should play at centre-back against Leicester? Pick your duo in our quick poll HERE.

Names like Dayot Upamecano, Ozan Kabak and Ben White were all slung around last month after Van Dijk found out surgery would be needed.

Privately at the time, Liverpool were insisting it was unlikely the situation would be rectified in the transfer market, but has Gomez’s injury proven one burden too many for an already overworked centre-back department?

Klopp has rarely listened to those outside his inner circle on his way to reinstating Liverpool as the preeminent name in English football.

His next move, however, could decide whether or not they stay there.


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