When Liverpool shipped two goals against Sevilla in the midweek during the Champions League group match, the critics were quick to pounce on Jurgen Klopp and his inability to sign a defender in the summer. Their grouse was that once it was clear that primary target Virgil van Dijk was not a feasible transfer, Klopp should have gone for alternate targets.
However, the Liverpool boss came out in support of his decision and insisted that they have looked at various alternatives before deciding that none of those available could improve his defence.
How much of this is due to the failed Van Dijk chase? It was well known that we have exhausted all the avenues to sign the Dutch defender from the Saints. From being reported to the FA for illegally tapping up the player to chasing him until the deadline day, the Reds tried everything they could.
As Klopp insisted at various points in the summer, the inability to sign Van Dijk was not because of the lack of intent from Anfield chiefs. It was primarily due to Southampton’s resistance to defer any moves by the Reds. Even the player did his bit by telling the club that he wants to move and even going on a strike. However, credit to the Saints for having done everything to keep the player on their books.
But, should Liverpool have moved for alternate targets? Defence continues to be the talking point and when the same mistakes were repeated against Sevilla, the critics were quick to pounce on Klopp. We conceded when against Burnley and it was a game that we should have won.
However, Klopp says that his scouting network had provided several alternatives who have been watched 500 million times – I am sure he did not mean it literally.
He was quoted by the Independent,
“We watched all of them 500 million times. What if the new player doesn’t hit the first ball and he makes exactly the same mistake? It’s a mistake they all made in their life, but it is like: ‘He is a £65m signing, he will improve.’ Why do you think the other one cannot improve? I don’t understand that.
“We want to make right decisions. A big part of football and life is really putting faith in the people you work with – trusting them – because they all can improve. They all can. [Defenders at other clubs] are all good out there but they are not that good that you say: ‘Yes they help immediately.’”
“I had to make a decision and the decision was our boys are not worse than them,” he added.
Klopp is adamant that he will not sign any player just for the sake of signing. He would go for a player only if he can improve his squad. We saw that in his pursuit of Naby Keita when the transfer market wanted the German boss to move on to other targets after the midfielder was initially unavailable.
But Klopp was determined that he would sign Keita and if not, no one else. He was vindicated in his decision when Keita eventually signed.
The jury is divided whether Klopp’s decision to not sign anyone other than Van Dijk is correct or not. Let’s just move on and back our team in their pursuit of excellence.