Jurgen Klopp’s predatory-like pursuit of Roma goalkeeper Alisson and the drastic change in transfer tact in 2018 lends weight to the argument that the German has come to realise a stark truth – he needs to win, and win fast.
For all the thrilling attacking football played by Liverpool – spearheaded by Mohamed Salah’s relentless and record-breaking scoring last season – club and coach have nothing to show for it in their trophy cabinet.
Fans of England’s two most dominant and popular teams, from the red halves of Merseyside and Manchester, threw beaming and begrudging praise in equal measure on the brand of football being expressed by Klopp’s rampant Reds last term.
United fans will be loathe to admit it, but they wish their team played the type of scintillating stuff Salah and Co bestowed upon Europe in 2017/18.
The fact remains, however, that 28 miles down the East Lancs Road, Jose Mourinho is able to fall back on the fact that in two years in charge of the Red Devils – six months fewer than Klopp has held the reins at Anfield – the Portuguese has pulled in three trophies – the Europa League, League Cup, as well as the Community Shield, all in 2016/17.
Commander Klopp has led his troops to three finals, and three subsequent defeats.
Of course, the mighty Real Madrid stood in their way in May’s Champions League final as they went to Kiev convinced they could bring home a sixth European crown.
Had the Merseysiders possessed a goalkeeper of Alisson’s ilk between the sticks, however, instead of the error-prone, and admittedly slightly concussed Loris Karius, it might well have been red rather than bright white reigning in the rain of Ukraine.
Liverpool’s long-term transfer policy is aimed at protecting the club’s future and procuring the best young talent around.
Yet, with the impending acquisition of Selecao stopper Alisson, the club is showing it is very much aware that while patience with young players’ progress is a virtue, victory cannot wait as long.
That is why Klopp and the men behind the scenes at Melwood shifted their feet slightly last season when breaking the club’s transfer record – for a defender.
Virgil van Dijk’s arrival from Southampton in a bombastic £75million move sent shockwaves around football – it was £23.25m more than Manchester City parted with to bring Benjamin Mendy in from Monaco six months earlier.
Klopp said at the time he “disliked” Dutchman Van Dijk’s price tag, but felt it reflected the reality of modern football.
It brought his now infamous quote from when United spent a then world record fee of £89m on Paul Pogba in the summer of 2016 back into focus.
“Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players. I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money,” the German said.
His tune had changed in January, claiming Paris Saint-Germain’s smashing of the Pogba fee after bringing in Neymar from Barcelona for £200m last summer, followed by Kylian Mbappe on loan for £165.7m, had “changed everything”.
And it had. Premier League champions Manchester City know all too well the price of failing to build upon success after they had a couple of disastrous windows following their second title in 2013/14.
The likes of Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony and Willy Caballero came in and City slipped to second the following year.
And even though that horror show was rectified with Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane arriving in subsequent summers, they had to wait until last season for the damage of 2014 and a three-year drought to end.
Klopp and his astute transfer team have realised they need to win, and they need to win now.
After all, despite their swashbuckling style and plundering of 84 goals last term, they still finished fourth and six points behind United’s turgid turn on their traditions.
Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon was said to be a key figure in the signing of Van Dijk, smoothing over relations with Southampton after the troubles of last summer.
Klopp also has sporting director Michael Edwards and head of scouting and recruitment Dave Fallows at his disposal, while keeper recruiter and coach John Achterberg will surely have played a key role in Alisson’s impending arrival.
The Dutchman is known for having an encyclopedic knowledge of goalkeepers from across the world, and his opinion is both sought and valued by Klopp.
The German is determined not to let the momentum gained from a stellar season turn into another ‘this is our year’ scenario, with Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri excellent summer business so far.
With a £66.8m fee for one of the most promising goalkeepers in the world agreed with Roma, nearly double the previous record for a stopper set by Man City’s capture of Ederson, it is clear Klopp means business.
In previous years, Karius would have been consoled and repaired. Klopp and Liverpool are rapidly realising they have to be more ruthless.
By washing their hands of calamitous Karius and putting their trust in the arms of Alisson and the rest of their summer signings, as well as Salah, there’s real hope Liverpool may finally get their hands on elusive English top-flight title number nineteen.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to miss the whole of the forthcoming season.
The 24-year-old sustained what has been described as multiple ligament damage in a tackle and underwent successful surgery eight days later.
He will not need to go under the knife again but faces a long rehabilitation programme before he will be able to return to competitive action.
A statement from Liverpool read: “The estimated length of his lay-off was not revealed at the time at the request of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who did not want the news to distract from the Reds’ ongoing Champions League run and the excitement surrounding it.”
The news will come as a huge blow and a shock to Liverpool fans, with Oxlade-Chamberlain among their star performers during the latter stages of last season.
Manager Jurgen Klopp told liverpoolfc.com: “It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab.
“We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it. I hope everyone treats this information responsibly. There has been no change, no setback – it’s exactly on the schedule we expected and planned for. The new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly.
“It is typical of Ox that he didn’t want the news to overshadow the end of the season and, to be quite honest, we thought we could wait and tell people at an appropriate time.
“His recovery has started superbly well. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain brought to an end a six-year stay at Arsenal by joining Liverpool last summer in a £35million deal.
Klopp added: “It is so important – because of how valuable and important he is to what we are looking to do here in the coming seasons – that the focus is on doing this right and not rushed. Ox is completely on board with this approach.
“He is such an outstandingly good person and someone who even when not playing is integral to the heartbeat of Melwood.
“I cannot wait to have him back with us for matches, but we will wait for him and we will show the patience that is required to make sure he comes back ready to continue where he left off: as one of the most outstanding performers in European football in that moment.”
Strengthening his midfield has been one of Klopp’s main priorities in the transfer window so far, with Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri all arriving at Anfield.
The forward pair are yet to report back for training due to their involvement at the World Cup in Russia with Egypt and Senegal respectively.
But with both players having seen their participation come to an end after the group stages last month, they will return to club duty for the tour, which begins a week on Saturday.
Fellow forward Roberto Firmino, who reached the quarter-finals with Brazil, will report back as the club head to France for a training camp at the end of the month.
Between them, the three players scored 91 goals last season – a campaign which culminated with defeat in the Champions League final. Salah’s involvement in that showpiece against Real Madrid was ended prematurely by a shoulder injury.
Manager Jurgen Klopp said of Salah and Mane: “They had their holiday and then they’ll come with us to the USA. They only had three weeks’ holiday so it means they didn’t lose too much.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 13, 2018
“We have to see how they present and then we’ll see if they can play in the games. They will be there.”
Those players who have been involved in the World Cup semi-finals will return the week prior to the Reds’ Premier League opener against West Ham on August 12.
Klopp added on the club’s website, www.liverpoolfc.com: “Bobby (Firmino) will be in for the second camp.
“Then we have the English guys, Simon (Mignolet) and Dejan (Lovren) – (they) will come another week later. We’ll already be back from France and will have exactly one week to prepare (for) the game (against West Ham). That’s no problem.”
Serbia midfielder Marko Grujic will also be present on the week-long US tour, which features games against Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Manchester United.