Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum believes their “wonderful” season deserves to be rewarded with a trophy.
Having just missed out on a first title in 29 years after being edged out by Premier League defending champions Manchester City by one point, Jurgen Klopp’s side have a second chance at success in the Champions League final against Tottenham on June 1.
Wijnaldum, one of the club’s most consistent performers this season and the midfielder with the most appearances, thinks it would be shame not to end the campaign with some silverware.
“Overall, I think we had a good season and now is the challenge to finish with a title to make the season complete,” the two-goal hero against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final told liverpoolfc.com.
“It would be really sad if we finish the season without a title, especially because I think we were quite consistent this season and we did so good. I think this season deserves one.
“The last couple of games were basically games where we could only win and look at what City were doing. They won also, so fair enough that they are champions.
“But now we have a game that we can control, so we have to bring that to a good end.
“It would be really special, especially because this season deserves an end like that.
“We’re going to do everything to bring it to that end, but it’s going to be tough.”
Another super-consistent performer for Liverpool this season has been defender Andy Robertson.
The Scotland international has featured in 47 of the club’s 52 matches and has provided 13 assists, establishing himself as the best left-back in the Premier League this season.
“I was happy with where I finished the season last year: I was getting better and better, so there was a wee bit more pressure on me this season,” said the 25-year-old.
“It was about me finding that level and showing I can be consistently good – and I think I’ve managed to do that.
“This season was big for me, I’ve managed to kick on and I’ve got a few years left in me, so hopefully I can take it into next season.
“Hopefully there’s one good performance left in me this season, then I’ll rest and then be fully concentrated on trying to put in the same performances next season and get the same kind of results.”
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The Brazilian playmaker has “suffered” while at Barcelona, according to Thompson, who believes Coutinho has been used in the wrong position at his new team but has the ability to return to being the impact player he was at Liverpool.
Barcelona made Coutinho a club-record signing last year, in a deal that could be worth up to £142million, but are now reportedly open to selling him. The Reds’ Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester United both having been linked with a move for a player who turns 27 this summer – and Thompson believes Liverpool should also be in the running.
“I would take him back in a heartbeat,” the ex-Reds defender told Sky Sports. “But it would have to be now. You don’t want to leave it another 12 months.
“I think he still has the ability,” Thompson added.
“He’s suffered at Barcelona. We’ve seen him playing out wide on the left, but he’s not Neymar. He likes to be in the middle where he can pull strings and is getting on the ball to hurt teams. He doesn’t do that and he’s not a left-winger and that’s where he’s playing at Barcelona.
“They don’t love him like Liverpool loved him.”
Coutinho left Liverpool having made just over 200 appearances over four-and-a-half seasons, scoring 54 goals and adding a further 45 assists, and Thompson cited the Brazilian’s performance during that spell as enough evidence that he could still make an impact if he returned.
“He was that little bit clever, that creativity behind those front three that you could go to in games where you knew you were going to have the majority of the possession,” said Thompson.
“He could open that door, he could score the goals that would get you the win.
“I would have him back, I don’t know about the football club, but he is the one with that ability.”
Thompson, who won seven league titles and three European Cups with Liverpool, captaining the side for four of those honours, hopes his former club included a buy-back clause when selling Coutinho last winter.
“Knowing our club, we’ve been very shrewd, maybe there’s a buy-back clause in there for maybe less than half what we sold him.”
The Scotland captain warned the back-to-back champions the Reds are “here to stay” when it comes to contesting domestic honours, and believes the group Jurgen Klopp has assembled can remain united as they attempt to do that.
“We are a tight-knit group, a young group, so hopefully we will be here for many years and we will be a better team in terms of maturity and experience next year,” said the left-back.
“Whether we can put in the performances remains to be seen but we hope we can.
“It is an incredible squad and I love being a part of it. I am sure we have learned a lot of lessons this season, and we just need to take that into next.
“Fingers-crossed we don’t lose anyone. We are a tight group and we don’t want to lose anyone. We will go into next season as strong as ever.”
With a second successive Champions League final to come, fellow defender Virgil Van Dijk said he felt it was the beginning of something special at Anfield.
Van Dijk also referenced the spirit within the club as a whole, and the relationship the players have with supporters as being key to that success.
“With the level we have shown this season, the consistency we have, we have to build on it, try to do it again next season,” said Van Dijk. “That’s what we all aim for, and I am looking forward to it already.
“There is a togetherness we have throughout the whole club. It is also the connection we have with the fans that helps us through tough, tough moments, through tough games.
“The fans will always be there and that’s is a special thing to know, and one of the big reasons I joined Liverpool.”
City manager Pep Guardiola conceded Liverpool had given them their toughest test in pushing them all the way to the final day, forcing them to win their final 14 league matches to finish on 98 points and edge out their north-west rivals by a single point.
Liverpool finished 25 points ahead of third-placed Chelsea and 31 in front of sixth-placed Manchester United.
“Man City know, hopefully, we are here to stay,” added Robertson. “We know they are definitely here to stay, they are incredible.
“There have been ups and not many downs. It’s been a very good season for us and we have just fallen short to a world-class team.
“Ninety-seven points wins every single league apart from last season so if we do that again we will keep knocking on the door and we won’t be far off it.
“Man City were 14 games unbeaten and for them to do that without dropping a point was incredible. Fair play to them.
“All the teams have to catch us as there was quite a gap between second and third.
“They all need to come up to us, and if they do, it will be an incredible title race next season.”
Robertson insists disappointment at not ending a 29-year wait for the league will not affect preparations for the Champions League final against Tottenham on June 1 in Madrid.
“We need a couple of days to probably get over this and then it will be forgotten about because we can’t dwell on it,” he said.
“We have the Champions League to play for. Everything else is forgotten about.
“In my opinion, it won’t be thought of that we came second in the Premier League and all that nonsense.
“There is no bigger game to get yourself up for: a Champions League final against Tottenham will be incredible.”
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