Jürgen Klopp on pre-season plans, departures and new deals

InterviewJürgen Klopp on pre-season plans, departures and new deals



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Jürgen Klopp is recharged and excited by the possibilities ahead as Liverpool prepare to step up their pre-season preparations this weekend.

The Reds will fly out to Bangkok on Saturday evening for the first leg of an Asian tour that will also include time in Singapore and games against Manchester United and Crystal Palace.

  • Watch every Liverpool pre-season game live and exclusive on LFCTV GO (T&Cs apply). Subscribe at liverpoolfc.com/watch before July 12 and get your first two weeks free

Following several days of initial work at the AXA Training Centre this week, the squad is set to be bolstered further on the trip by the players who have yet to report for pre-season.

In our first extended interview with Klopp of the summer, he discussed being back to work, the team’s plans for the coming weeks, notable departures and the recent announcements of new contracts for Mohamed Salah, James Milner and Joe Gomez.

Read the chat below…

It was such a long season last year – were you glad of, and do you feel reinvigorated by, the break you’ve had since the Champions League final to now?

Yes, I was happy when the season was over – not exactly the way it finished, but still happy that we could go on holiday. We had the holiday long enough. I’m more than recharged. Absolutely fine, happy to be back, everything is good.

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You spoke about it not being the way anyone wanted the season to end in Paris – not just with the result but with the night itself, which was incredibly difficult for so many of the supporters.

I met only a few who were lucky; all the rest I met – my family included – had massive struggles outside. I think it is meanwhile clear it was massively mis-organised. Whoever was responsible was not prepared for that. My family sent me messages before the game, ‘We are in the stadium, good luck’ and all these kinds of things – but they were not. These kind of necessary lies you receive then after the game. We had this little party; my missus was not ready to party, still exhausted from all the things around. I think all the things that happened there made it possible that the smallest problem we had that night is that we lost the final – incredible after a Champions League final. It was obviously really difficult. I was not outside but so many people told me the true story and they were all the same story pretty much, so I know what happened.

There’s huge change every pre-season with different players, different faces and you come back without some players – Sadio, Divock, Taki – who, without them, the Champions Wall wouldn’t have as many numbers on it…

Definitely. We are very thankful to the boys, it was absolutely great, their contribution was outstanding – all in a slightly different way.

Div was here before me, out on loan and stuff like this, but had an incredibly successful spell here, even when I didn’t play him that often. I said it often enough: my fault, and a little bit all of the quality in the squad. But he is a Liverpool legend definitely. When you think about Divock, you cannot avoid a smile, because so many great moments were only possible because of him. Absolutely outstanding. Like the shoulder/header at Newcastle; so many things; the goals against Everton; Champions League, the final. Absolutely great. We wish him all the best. That’s what I said to him when I gave him a hug after our last Premier League game when he got his farewell. I said, ‘Wherever you go, I know you will be a success and I wish you all the luck in life because you deserve it.’

Sadio, what can we say about Sadio, hey? What a player. A world-class player. He and we together reinvented him as a No.9 as well in the last season, which he played outstandingly well. I like the way it happened now because it was completely clean. We knew, he told us, his agent told us, they wanted to leave, they wanted to have a new challenge, find a new club. [It’s] never easy negotiations – it’s all good until we talk about money, but that worked then really well. So, as well a Liverpool legend, one of the all-time Premier League greats, I would say, with the numbers he has. A fantastic person as well. So, really happy for him that he is now at the club where he wants to be. He is very thankful for all the things we did, and we are very thankful. Now he is at another club.

And then Taki – not that long here but a similar influence on the things we did. Won big trophies here. We became champions together when he came in the winter and then we won the domestic cups together, which we wouldn’t have won without him, that’s the 100 per cent truth. That’s how it is. For him as well, Monaco, good club, he will play there, he will have a great career from here on. He will always be welcome when he comes back, 100 per cent, a fantastic person.

Players use that direction through the door and you bring other players in, and now we are very excited about the new team we can create.

Mo Salah has signed a new contract – you always seemed so calm about it and you were right to be…

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I knew it would happen, it was always clear Mo wants to stay – that was always the message. I spoke to him obviously and it was always clear: ‘I want to stay.’ But it’s an important contract, different things have to be considered and that’s what takes time sometimes. We cannot always fulfil the expectations from the outside world – there’s an ending contract, next year it will end, so sort it now. Things need time. But we are obviously experienced enough to deal with these kind of things. He is very happy now that he can extend his time here. We are very happy, a world-class player. Imagine you have to sign Mo Salah now; he’s in another club and you want a player with the numbers he created over the years. It’s pretty much not possible. But we have him and he wants to stay – very good news.

Talking of good news and new contracts, James Milner and Joe Gomez…

Fantastic, absolutely fantastic – that’s how you build a team. Millie is incredibly important for us. Who doesn’t know it yet or doesn’t believe it yet just has to read Pep Lijnders’ new book, which comes out early August I think. It’s like a love letter to James Milner – well deserved, by the way! And Joey is really a world-class defender, no shadow of a doubt. He believes in this project, he believes in himself and he wants to be a Liverpool FC player. And we want the team to stay obviously. I know what people say in these moments: ‘But you have him, you have him, you have him.’ We’ll need the quality and we have the quality. And Joe Gomez when he played was outstanding for us and he will be outstanding for us.

That says so much about the atmosphere within the building, that he would have liked to play more last season but he is still desperate to be around and he said he was keen to be a good teammate…

Last year we had three centre-halves coming back from a long-term injury. The things are all to explain, it’s not that difficult. Virgil obviously – the man, we don’t have to discuss about that really – started on a pretty high level. Joel was the one who came in first and could train the longest, and we don’t have to discuss his quality. He was there. Ibou, new and had a long-term injury as well, by the way, before that, and needed to find his feet a little bit in the squad. [He] delivered from the first moment but was still new and had to adapt to a couple of things. Joey needed this little bit longer and that’s how it is sometimes. Then he needed a bit more rhythm and [had] a little injury again – nothing major but just a little bit, which is normal after a long time out. That brought him in the position for a while but I think we all know how often and how good he played, in the second part of the season especially. How I said, he’s a world-class defender, no shadow of a doubt.

This season starts a little earlier and there will be a break for the World Cup. Does that change anything you do with the players in pre-season?

Not really. Our pre-season is for some long [enough], for some not long enough. So we have to extend again the pre-season into the season, we cannot change that because we have our time limits. I am more than 20 years now in the business in the same position pretty much and we know how much we have to do in the pre-season to create a basis for the whole season. This time we have two different groups, if you want, but only from November on. Because we have one group who plays the longest season ever and if you go to the final or the semi-finals in the World Cup it will be crazy, absolutely crazy. And we have the other group where there’s quite a proper break in November. But until then everybody has to do the same. The players who go to the World Cup obviously have to be fit there as well; from that point of view it’s actually a good moment, I would say. We will see how we can deal with that afterwards, but until then it should be fine.

In the pre-season nothing really changed. We have our trip to Asia, which we are looking forward to because we were not there for a long time. On the other side, I hope we can train – we know which time of the year it is there, so I don’t think we come through without rain. But hopefully we can really train. We tried everything to prepare as good; groundsmen already there trying to prepare everything. In the end, we need a bit of luck as well there.

  • Watch every Liverpool pre-season game live and exclusive on LFCTV GO (T&Cs apply). Subscribe at liverpoolfc.com/watch before July 12 and get your first two weeks free

The two games are important and not important, so we cannot play against United and say it’s a friendly. It’s no friendly. But it’s a pre-season game and we have to see who we can use in that moment. The guys who came back from international [duty] now, they fly tomorrow with us or some we meet directly there. From that moment on they are in training, but two days later we play the game, so we’ll see if we can give them 10 or 15 minutes or whatever. Then for the Crystal Palace game maybe a little bit more. Then we come back, have five days here and go to Austria; from Austria, pretty much directly to the Community Shield; and one week later we start with the season. So it’s tough.

That’s what I mean, we have to extend it into the season. We play Fulham Saturday and then we play [the following] Monday, so it’s a long, long week which we can use as well for training. Then again [we play] Monday I think, so these are the moments where we have to train. During the season we cannot train – we play every three days, so we recover. But that’s the moment where we really try to create a basis for the rest of the season.

Return to Liverpoolfc.com on Saturday for the second part of this interview, in which Klopp discusses the arrivals of Fabio Carvalho, Darwin Nunez and Calvin Ramsay this summer.



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