Liverpool’s transfer window: Klopp is bullish even if fans are worried about lack of spending By James Pearce Sept 1, 2021 380 A section of the fanbase fuming over Liverpool’s lack of transfer business. Concerns over whether Jurgen Klopp has sufficient depth to ensure they last the pace. This is where we were two years ago. Back then, the summer window shut with only Harvey Elliott, Sepp van den Berg, Adrian and Andy Lonergan brought on board. Two teenagers and two back up goalkeepers. Hardly a booming statement of intent from the new European champions. But the naysayers were soon silenced spectacularly. Liverpool took 79 Premier League points out of the first 81 on offer as they blew their domestic rivals away. It took a global pandemic to delay their coronation as title winners for the first time since 1990. Of course, given the calibre of the contenders, repeating the trick will be much more difficult this time around but memories of 2019-20 provide a reminder that improvement can come from within. Spending large sums of cash doesn’t guarantee anything. Ask last-placed, pointless, goalless Arsenal. How you reflect on Liverpool’s summer of 2021 in terms of transfers depends to a large extent on whether your glass is usually half full or half empty. The priority was to bolster the squad defensively and they landed their top target early with the £35 million purchase of centre-back Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig in late May. Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson have all since proved their fitness after overcoming last season’s serious injuries. The spine of the team that won the title has been restored. The focus for sporting director Michael Edwards has largely been on retaining key personnel for the long term and that’s been achieved impressively with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Alisson, Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson and Henderson signing new contracts. Those who shrug off the significance of those extensions ignore two things. First, it’s an expensive exercise keeping hold of world-class talent. Second, for a long time, Liverpool struggled to hold onto their best players. No longer are heads turned as was the case with Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho. Klopp recently spoke about how “real fans” would appreciate the importance of those negotiations reaching a successful conclusion. However, it’s also understandable why supporters hoped that one or two more new signings would follow Konate and now feel underwhelmed that nobody else was brought in. Georginio Wijnaldum wasn’t replaced following his move to Paris Saint-Germain after his contract expired. Several midfielders, including Borussia Monchengladbach’s Florian Neuhaus, came under consideration but no deal was pursued. Klopp is adamant he has sufficient midfield cover and the impact of exciting teenager Elliott in the early weeks of this season has certainly given him a new option in that department. Georginio Wijnaldum left for Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent (Photo: Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images) The greater need for a new face was arguably up front, to ease the burden on Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota. It requires a sizeable leap of faith to believe Takumi Minamino or Divock Origi will step up and deliver if called upon. Firmino should only be sidelined for a few weeks with the hamstring injury that forced him off against Chelsea on Saturday, but any absence in that department is likely to be keenly felt this season, not least the prospect of losing Salah and Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations for as much as a month from early in January. There are high hopes for young attacker Kaide Gordon, who is likely to be handed a debut in the Carabao Cup tie away to Norwich in three weeks, but he doesn’t even turn 17 until October and is still learning his trade. Why didn’t Liverpool do more in the window? Availability and affordability. They certainly didn’t raise as much from sales as they had initially hoped. Fringe players Kamil Grabara (to Copenhagen), Liam Millar (Basel), Marko Grujic (Porto), Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin), Harry Wilson (Fulham) and Xherdan Shaqiri (Lyon) all departed on permanent deals, while Ben Davies (Sheffield United), Ben Woodburn (Hearts), Van den Berg (Preston North End), Leighton Clarkson (Blackburn Rovers), Jake Cain (Newport County), Sheyi Ono (Millwall) and Rhys Williams (Swansea City) have been farmed out on loan. The combined total generated of £42.8 million may suggest Liverpool made a profit this summer but that figure includes various add-ons that may never be triggered. Plus, under the terms of the Wilson deal, Fulham won’t start paying the £12 million fee for the Wales international until next summer. The big offers expected for Origi, Neco Williams and Nathaniel Phillips never materialised. Phillips will effectively be the fifth senior centre-back over the coming months after staying put and signing a new four-year contract. There will be no repeat of last season when the decision not to replace the departed Dejan Lovren was compounded by an unprecedented defensive injury crisis and Liverpool were left exposed. This time around, Klopp is well stocked. During a crazy flurry of transfer activity in European football, Liverpool have been on the outside looking in. Manchester City and Chelsea spent vast sums on Jack Grealish and Romelu Lukaku. Manchester United brought in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo. “We can’t spend money we don’t have,” Klopp said recently, a nod to the self-sustaining business model of Liverpool’s US owner Fenway Sports Group (FSG). “You cannot compare to the other clubs. They obviously don’t have any limits but we have limits and we were quite successful given the limits in the last two years.” There are no secrets over where Liverpool’s cash goes. It’s there in black and white in the accounts every year. The wage bill is vast. They moved to a new £50 million training ground last November. There’s £60 million being spent on redeveloping the Anfield Road end of their stadium. With revenues plummeting by more than £120 million, Liverpool were hit harder than most by the pandemic. They haven’t got an oligarch or a sheikh to pick up the shortfall. FSG won’t take what it deems to be unnecessary risks. That’s not defending FSG, it’s stating facts. A sense of frustration among supporters is understandable. Klopp pulled off a minor miracle qualifying for the Champions League in third place given all the adversity he was faced with last season and there’s a nagging sense that not all issues have been addressed since. A window of missed opportunity? Will FSG live to regret not digging deeper, given the riches that success brings? Klopp certainly won’t look for excuses or bleat about not being given sufficient funds. He’s bullish about the array of talent at his disposal. On the back of those new contracts, the return to fitness of key players and the emergence of youth, his belief is unwavering. He sees his current personnel ready to “take the next step”. Whether you share the manager’s optimism or fear the repercussions of Liverpool’s inactivity in the transfer market, only time will tell whether you’re right.