Jurgen Klopp’s track record in regard to transfers speaks for itself. All of his transfers have been an unmitigated success (Loris Karius’ decline in the eyes of the football world can be put down to one terrible night at the office). The German’s stubborn nature when identifying specific targets, whilst frustrating for fans and pundits alike, have proven to be masterstrokes.
The larger narrative at the beginning of last season, when Liverpool boasted a first choice centre-half partnership of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren, was why no one was signed at all once it was clear that Southampton would not part ways with Virgil Van Dijk.
Klopp’s belief that the Dutchman was the solution to his teams’ defensive woes has been vindicated to such an extent that the 75-million-pound fee paid has been branded as a modern era bargain. Exemplified by the fact that no player has been involved in more Premier League clean sheets since his Liverpool debut in January.
Patience is a strong virtue of Klopp’s, demonstrated by the signature of Naby Keita on a delayed deal from RB Leipzig. The Guinean has shown glimpses of his much-hyped potential with stellar performances against the likes of West Ham amongst others.
The Reds’ toothless performance against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions league was indicative of their inability to unpick deep defences, mustering a paltry 4 shots on target from a total of 23. An issue which could have been solved by the signing of a particular Frenchman in the summer.
The failed move for Nabil Fekir due to concerns over the ability to maintain his fitness seems to have left a hole in the squad, brought to the forefront by the unexpected loss in midweek. Perhaps Klopp envisaged that the creative burden could be filled by Keita or Xheridan Shaqiri?
The Swiss international was left out of the squad against the Serbians in order to mitigate the expected hostile reception he would have received from the home fans after his double eagle celebration – out of solidarity with Kosovo – against Serbia at the World Cup.
The history between the two nations puts into perspective how trivial things such as football may be. It is therefore understandable that the former Stoke City man was left back at Melwood.
Unfortunately, this now leaves the Reds in a delicate situation in their efforts to go one further than their heroic run to the Champions League final last season. Admittedly, their fate is still in their own hands, having most likely to win only one of their two remaining fixtures against PSG at the Parc des Princes and Napoli at Anfield.
The oft-discussed creative midfield issues may not be as prominent in these matches as the Parisians and Neapolitans are unlikely to sit as deep as Red Star and Klopp’s men can lean more heavily on their ability to cause chaos on the counter-attack.
Clearly, Klopp saw that there was a gap in the squad as he identified Fekir as the ideal candidate to fill It, similar to the process undertaken to recruit Van Dijk earlier in the year. The difference in this scenario is that there is minimal chance that he will get his man due to the aforementioned fitness issues.
This show of stubbornness seemingly has cost the Reds in the short term with one of the worst displays under the German’s tenure.
In the aftermath of this, Klopp, ever the man to believe in his own abilities as a coach, stated “We have all that we need. Our job now is to use the quality that we have and to work with it because one player doesn’t change it”. Perhaps a jibe at the persistent rumbling that the calamitous away showings in the Champions League so far could have been avoided by Fekir’s signature.
Klopp is unlikely to move away from his charismatic demeanour, nor should he, he has revitalised the club and turned Anfield into the home of one of the greatest spectacles in world football in his short tenure. Whatever the future holds in regard to transfers, the trust in Klopp should never wane.