Pep Lijnders has paid tribute to Liverpool’s recruitment department after a productive summer in the transfer market.
And the assistant manager has detailed the approach the club are taking going forward as they look to once more challenge for the biggest prizes in football this coming campaign.
It’s been a busy few weeks for sporting director Julian Ward after he replaced the respected Michael Edwards at the end of last season. The new incumbent helped bring Darwin Nunez, Calvin Ramsay and Fabio Carvalho to Anfield.
Ward also played a key role in securing Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Joe Gomez to new contracts this summer as Sadio Mane departed for Bayern Munich for a fee that could reach £41m. Neco Williams has been offloaded to Nottingham Forest for a £17m sum, while Takumi Minamino (£15m, Monaco), Ben Davies (£3m, Rangers) and Divock Origi (free, AC Milan) have all left the club.
Speculation and debate over a midfield addition goes on but Klopp insists he is happy with his options if no members of his squad agitate to leave before the end of the summer transfer window. Lijnders insists the club are now only looking for players who can potentially improve the starting 11.
In an interview to mark the release of his brand new book, Intensity, Klopp’s right-hand man said: “When we want to sign someone, we sign them for the first 11. That doesn’t mean we only have 11 players. It means that you want players who you feel can play and make a difference in the big games.
“The question always lies in are you fighting to become a champion? Or are you fighting for the top four? Are you fighting for the Champions League? Or are you fighting for the League Cup? That is a big, big difference and people underestimate it.
“So in this way, the team needs consistency that we have created over the last year. What I want to get to is the signings that you make, you have to have this immediate impact basically. That is not easy, that means there is a lot of work. That is why we are so happy with our scouting department and our sporting director. We really tried to sign the players who can make the difference.”
This summer marks something of a transition for Klopp’s side as they look to build on last season’s domestic cup double without Mane, who left after six years and 120 goals to join Bayern in the Bundesliga. Luis Diaz is beginning his first full season in English football following his January switch from Porto, while Liverpool are also looking to adjust to having £64m striker Darwin Nunez in their ranks.
Lijnders added: “I remember the process of signing Sadio, watching different players, doing background checks, watching him on the big screen in our coaches’ room and us all saying yes.
“But I think in life it is really important that you don’t look to the past. You can speak a lot about what you had but it is much more important what you want. We feel that with our squad, and especially our front players, we are ready to compete.
“The individual player will always influence a team in a certain way. For example, Luis Diaz gives us much more, not more than Sadio, but gives them something to pose on the outside. He will dribble and that gives players in the centre something for them to [attack].
“So when we play with Bobby (Roberto Firmino), it’s much more from the outside. So Luis gives a different vibe but so does Darwin. We know what we want and where we want to go, it’s about time because time creates relationships in football and that’s the most important thing that we have real connections with our players and in that time we will give everyone who is new.
“That is what we have always done. I am really grateful that we have signed these two players, Fabio and Ibou (Ibrahima Konate). I really like how we are recruiting. That is what we want.”