Soccer Saturday pundit and Liverpool legend Phil Thompson headed to Melwood to discuss Philippe Coutinho, Virgil van Dijk, and more, with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool will look to end Manchester City’s unbeaten start in the Premier League when hosting the leaders at Anfield on Sunday.
Ahead of that clash, live on Sky Sports Premier League, Thompson sat down with Klopp to cover a wide range of subjects.
The £75m arrival of Van Dijk and the £146m departure of Coutinho to Barcelona were high on the agenda for Thompson, who won seven league titles and three European Cups with the club between 1971 and 1984.
Now returning to Melwood as a fan, here is a transcript from his interview with Klopp – which you can also see on Soccer Saturday from 10am on Sky Sports News.
Thommo: Do you feel as though it was meant to be for you, Liverpool Football Club?
Klopp: To be honest? Yes. I’m a football romantic. I’m confident but not as confident as other managers, thinking this club will call, that club will call. A lot of clubs called and I said ‘No, no chance, I need to make a break now’. Even my wife knew, if Liverpool is calling, I go.
Klopp: Yeah. And that’s really difficult to explain. Yes there was interest – Manchester United, yes they were interested a year or a year-and-a-half before, but it didn’t feel right. I couldn’t say Man United is not my club, it didn’t feel right.
When Liverpool called, I had no chance. It was actually too early for my plans. I said, ‘Wow, come on!’ But then coming here and feeling the spirit immediately, it was just, for me, a match in heaven.
Thommo: Does it match everything that you thought? Or more?
Klopp: It’s much better.
Thommo: Philippe Coutinho. Wow.
Klopp: Okay. Now it’s getting serious!
Thommo: What a massive loss. Can I ask you the big burning question, now I’m a Liverpool fan? Why? Why now?
Klopp: We had no chance to use him in the second part of the season. We all tried everything to convince him.
Thommo: You tried for a loan as well, didn’t you?
Klopp: I cannot give you the details, but we tried all you can imagine, believe me.
It started in the summer. That was the problem, it was really late. Philippe says, and it’s 100 per cent the truth, I really believe that he wouldn’t have left Liverpool for any other club in the world.
He was convinced he wanted to go, so in the second half of the season we couldn’t have used him. Having a player of his quality and bringing him out there [to play], but his head is already away, and then he plays at 40 percent, gets injured or not, it’s a difficult situation for the whole squad.
And so, that was the moment, we went okay, we have to do it. To make the best for us. For sure, he can fulfil his dream, but we are still here and it’s a big business with the money.
Thommo: It’s astronomical.
Klopp: Two years ago I could not imagine it could happen.
Thommo: For an offensive midfield player, £140-odd million! You couldn’t even dream about it! You spent £75m on Virgil van Dijk.
Klopp: I can’t say all these numbers!
Thommo: I’ll say it. I’ll say it.
Thommo: Roughly. But, to me, he’s a special player. It was a massive statement for Liverpool.
Klopp: We made massive statements in the last window, we bought Sadio Mane. The whole league tried to get him but he wanted to come to Liverpool. Mo Salah, the whole world wanted him, and he wanted to come to Liverpool, so we made this statement.
Thommo: These are offensive players Jurgen. This is a centre-back, you paid £75m. But, I think he’s a special player.
Klopp: Yeah, he can be.
Thommo: I think he is a Rolls-Royce.
Thommo: No, he is! The way he moves.
Klopp: Hopefully more mobile!
Thommo: I think £75m for that one goal, in a derby game, is worth all the money.
Klopp: Haha! Done. So now it’s a free transfer actually.
Thommo: We’ve got Man City coming up. I look at you, and Pep, and I think, are they twins?
Thommo: Not identical twins. But because it’s similar, very offensive, quick, high pressing. You look at it, and maybe the defences have not been the best.
Klopp: Thank you.
Thommo: No problem. But what do you think?
Klopp: When I think about the game on Sunday, I cannot forget the first we played against them. It changed the season for City in a positive way and gave us a little knock for a few days and weeks.
That was unlucky, it was an open game. Nobody cares about that anymore but it’s the truth. We got a red card, which was the worst place in world football to be one down – wow! No chance that day.
We have to pay back, in a football way. We have such a strong group here, they really love working together, if you would have seen the sessions this week they are on fire. I love that, but that doesn’t mean we will win against Man City, but that does mean we can be really difficult for City.
Thommo: I think everybody is looking forward to it. Good stuff, I appreciate the time. It’s nice being back in the office.
Klopp: You can stay! No problem.