LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Aug 24 – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp voiced hope that guiding his team back into the Champions League will strengthen his hand in transfer talks over the last week of the trading window.
Liverpool secured a place in the group stage for only the second time since 2010 after a 4-2 home win over Hoffenheim on Wednesday completed a 6-3 aggregate victory in the play-off round.
Klopp has only managed to bring in Mohamed Salah, Andy Robertson and Dominic Solanke in the transfer window so far and he suggested that number might increase now Liverpool are back among the elite.
“It’s a big influence on the transfer market, especially if you do it more often,” Klopp told reporters at Anfield.
“If you talk to a player, especially the players we talk to — because we don’t talk to players that are not better than our players — they say, ‘If you played in the Champions League, it would be really interesting because the club is great, the manager’s not too bad’ — all this stuff.
“Or even when you try to extend a contract with a player in the squad. They say, ‘Yeah, I want to play Champions League.’
“I always think, ‘WTF? It’s your job to do it with us together! Don’t ask for us to do the job so you can play Champions League. Do it with us together.’
“And that’s what this team did. That’s why I’m so happy about it. Fourteen months’ hard work. And we did it. Nice.”
Appointed in October 2015, Klopp was unable to steer Liverpool into the Champions League in his first season as they finished eighth in the Premier League, but a fourth-place finish last term opened the door to a return.
They will discover their group-stage opponents in Thursday’s draw in Monaco and Klopp could not contain his excitement at the thought of the Champions League music booming out over Anfield again.
“It’s so exciting to be part of it,” said the German, who led former club Borussia Dortmund to the competition final in 2013.
“For me personally, it’s two or three years ago (since his last involvement). I loved it always.
“I still love it, the players love it, the crowd loves it. We will have a few fantastic European nights at Anfield. So all good in the moment and nothing to moan about.”
– ‘Thunderstorm’ –
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Liverpool flew out of the blocks, scoring three times in the opening 21 minutes through an Emre Can brace and a Salah effort.
“The start of the game was like a thunderstorm,” Klopp said.
Klopp hailed Can for overcoming the effects of illness to play and reserved special praise for Roberto Firmino, who created Can’s second goal and scored Liverpool’s fourth against his former club.
“Roberto Firmino!” Klopp exclaimed in his post-match press conference. “What a game he had today.”
Klopp said he had “nothing to say” about Philippe Coutinho, who continues to be courted by Barcelona and was absent against Hoffenheim due to illness and a back problem. Liverpool insist he will not be sold.
Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann, who is only 30, delivered a critical assessment of his team’s display, saying they had played like “headless chickens”.
Hoffenheim are playing in Europe for the first time in their history and will now drop into the Europa League.
“This is a disappointment that will last for a bit, of course,” said Nagelsmann, whose side scored through substitute Mark Uth and Sandro Wagner.
“We need to develop and be better than we played today. It doesn’t help thinking about a past game. You can’t change anything now.
“We should use the Europa League as an opportunity to become more mature, to develop and hopefully we’ll meet teams that will help us to do that.
“We’re going to tackle the Europa League and we look forward to competing on an international level.”