Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, has defended his decision not to sign a central defender this summer after the club was frustrated in its attempts to prise Virgil van Dijk away from Southampton.
Klopp chose not to move for an alternative to Van Dijk once it became clear that Southampton were unwilling to sell the 26-year-old, despite the defensive frailties that have dogged Liverpool in recent years.
Such frailties were on display once again on Wednesday night during the club’s long-awaited return to the Champions League, as Group E opponents Sevilla scored two easily-preventable goals from their only shots on target.
The disappointing defensive display, days after a 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City, led to renewed calls for investment in defence and claims that an alternative to Van Dijk – such as Benedikt Howedes, Khalidou Koulibaly or Davinson Sanchez – should have been signed.
Klopp has now confirmed that Liverpool looked at other options, but it was ultimately decided that no available player would immediately improve the team.
“We watched all of them 500 million times,” Klopp said, speaking ahead of Burnley’s visit to Anfield this summer. “What if the new player doesn’t hit the first ball and he makes exactly the same mistake? It’s a mistake they all made in their life, but it is like: ‘He is a £65m signing, he will improve.’ Why do you think the other one cannot improve? I don’t understand that.
“We want to make right decisions. A big part of football and life is really putting faith in the people you work with – trusting them – because they all can improve. They all can. [Defenders at other clubs] are all good out there but they are not that good that you say: ‘Yes they help immediately.’”
“I had to make a decision and the decision was our boys are not worse than them,” he added.
Klopp has at times been accused of showing too much trust in his players, with the likes of Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno but the Liverpool manager believes that putting faith in the current members of his squad is part and parcel of his job and he insists he will continue to do just that.
“That’s the risk when you get a manager, so we are like we are,” he said. “I believe in trust. I trust people until they give me an opportunity or a possibility not to trust them anymore. That’s how I understand life.
“My job is really to get the best out of these boys, not to sign them and tell them: ‘Deliver, come on.’ That’s a clear deal. You perform really well boys, credit. We perform bad, my credit. It’s my job to make sure we can perform as good as possible.”