Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool’s Premier League win ‘the best problem you can have’
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes the defence of their Premier League title is the best problem they can have.
The Reds raced to their first title for 30 years with seven matches to spare of an interrupted season but even before the silverware was lifted at Anfield’s last game of the campaign, questions were already being asked about whether they could repeat the feat.
Manchester City have been made the slight favourites and Klopp knows it will not be easy to maintain the standards which have seen his side record 99 and 97 points in the last two seasons – losing just four times in that spell – but that is what he expects.
“Winning the league last year is the best problem you can have,” he said.
“If it’s a problem then I don’t know it, but everybody else is giving me a feeling that it should be a problem.
“Everybody wants to become champions, and that’s not news to me as I knew it before.
“It’s all about how we can put these intense performances on the pitch again and again and again.
“The Premier League is the strongest league in the world, and that means we have more competitors than we really need.”
Liverpool face an intriguing test in their opening match at home to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, winners of the Sky Bet Championship and back in the top flight after 16 years.
Bielsa has inspired a number of the world’s top coaches – Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino – but what Klopp recalls is the Argentinian’s famed work ethic and (sometimes questionable) methods.
“I admire him but I was never close enough to him to really follow him,” said the Reds boss.
“Maybe the hardest working of all us, I don’t think we can compete with him in that area.
“When I think about the analysis he presented around the Derby game (Leeds were fined £200,000 for spying on Derby’s training session in 2019)… that was funny as well.
“We didn’t see any suspicious people around our training ground this week so it’s all fine.”
There has been some criticism from sections of a demanding fanbase unhappy that the only transfer business Liverpool have done so far is the £11.7million signing of Kostas Tsimikas as cover for left-back Andy Robertson, having sold defender Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg and allowed midfielder Adam Lallana to leave after the expiry of his contract.
Barcelona are also circling after expressing interest in Georginio Wijnaldum, whose current deal runs out next summer, Klopp insists the situation with the midfielder is not a concern.
“Absolutely fine about the future as far as we are involved with that,” he said of reports former Holland coach Ronald Koeman wants to be reunited with the Dutch international at the Nou Camp.
“I cannot speak about the future in a few years but it is all fine. It’s all good for the moment.”
Supporters have been clamouring for the signing of Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, a player Klopp likes, but that will not happen unless money is raised from somewhere else or Wijnaldum leaves for Spain.
“If I could invent a word now that would end speculation, I could become really rich,” said Klopp.
“I can’t end speculation as long as the transfer window is open, that’s all I can say. Did I mention that Thiago Alcantara is a really good player? Long ago.
“It’s nice that we are linked with him but that’s pretty much all, really.”
There has also been speculation linking Liverpool’s young striker Rhian Brewster with a move away, either on loan or permanently.
“Rhian is our player, a wonderful kid and big, big talent. Scored very nice goals in pre-season,” said Klopp.
“There is so much going on. What I can say is that we are really with him, thoughtful about him and what is best for his development and how we can use him.
“Nothing is decided otherwise they’d be there already.”