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cash divide Jurgen Klopp is keeping Liverpool's ship afloat, but he won't be here forever

A top manager can cover up a lot of flaws, as Wenger did for Gunners

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Alex Livesey/PA Wire.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Alex Livesey/PA Wire.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Alex Livesey/PA Wire.

A harsh reality crashed down on Liverpool amid this summer’s crazy transfer window – and I appreciate why the club’s fans felt as if they didn’t get an invite to the party.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United was the final twist in a remarkable burst of spending that saw some of the biggest names in world football come to England’s Premier League – but none of them arrived at Anfield.

The captures of Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have certainly made United a better side.

Then you look at Chelsea spending almost £100million to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge, with Manchester City also flashing the cash to get Jack Grealish.

City would have signed Harry Kane or Ronaldo if they had got their way as well, but their pulling power was exposed a little in the final week of the transfer window, despite all the money they have.

Inject

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Alisson (left) and Van Dijk will be at Anfield for the duration of Klopp’s reign.

Alisson (left) and Van Dijk will be at Anfield for the duration of Klopp’s reign.

Alisson (left) and Van Dijk will be at Anfield for the duration of Klopp’s reign.

Signings of this magnitude don’t just add quality to the teams. They are all proven performers, they excite the supporters, too, and give the impression a club is on the front foot.

Liverpool, though, followed a very different path this summer, as they signed up their current squad to new contracts, rather than spend money on new arrivals.

Jurgen Klopp is always very polite when he speaks to the media about Liverpool’s prudent transfer policy, but he must have looked in on the new arrivals in Manchester and Chelsea with a hint of envy.

Klopp has confirmed he will leave the club when his contract expires in the summer of 2024, and I’m sure he will, especially as he is working with a budget that is not comparable to the teams he is competing against at the top of the Premier League.

Klopp will be delighted to have got Alisson Becker, Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson signed up for as long as he is in charge, but I’m sure he would have made a couple of signings if the money was there.

While I don’t want to criticise the owners at Fenway Sports Group for the way they run the club, their biggest signings have been funded by the sales of star men such as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho.

Once again, they ended this transfer window in profit from player trading. While Ibrahima Konate should be a good addition to the defence, I felt the squad was in need of a freshen up, and that didn’t happen.

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Alisson (left) and Van Dijk will be at Anfield for the duration of Klopp’s reign.

Alisson (left) and Van Dijk will be at Anfield for the duration of Klopp’s reign.

Alisson (left) and Van Dijk will be at Anfield for the duration of Klopp’s reign.

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Roberto Firmino (left), Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah

Roberto Firmino (left), Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah

Roberto Firmino (left), Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah

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This was a summer when I felt the club needed to go big and try to sign a goalscoring midfielder following the exit of Gini Wijnaldum and look to freshen up a forward line that has looked a little stale over the last year.

We know Liverpool don’t have the money of the clubs backed by oil-rich sugar-daddy owners, but it would be nice to see FSG get in the mix to sign a few big names and give the club’s fans that little bit of glitz that United, City and Chelsea fans enjoyed in recent weeks.

I look at United’s signing of Ronaldo – well, their decision to sell Dan James to Leeds effectively paid for the arrival of one of the world’s greatest ever footballers. It was a clever piece of business.

The Liverpool of old would have gone after the best players when they came up for grabs, but those days are gone for now.

This is not a new story, as I felt they needed to make a statement signing after they were crowned Champions League winners in 2019, and backed it up with the Premier League a year later.

Yet Klopp has not been given the money needed to compete for a player like Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe. Now he is relying on his old guard to come good again.

When my beloved Liverpool were in trophy-winning form a couple of years back, Mo Salah was scoring 30-40 goals a season, Sadio Mane was backing him up with 20-25, and Roberto Firmino was chipping in with a few as well.

As Klopp’s midfield have rarely delivered goals, Salah, Mane and Firmino had to carry the team to success in the Premier League and Champions League.

Yet the spark and hunger the trio showed in that period has been lacking over the last 12 months.

But that’s understandable, as when you achieve so much in double-quick time, the drive to reach for the stars again can wane, and I think we have seen that at Liverpool.

Reliant

Diogo Jota was a good signing last summer and he will chip in with a few goals if he is given enough starts by Klopp, but I don’t see those four scoring the 80 or 90 goals between them that Liverpool need to challenge for the Premier League title.

When you look at all the goals United and City get from midfield every season, they are not so reliant on central strikers to win them matches, but Liverpool have to hope Salah, Mane, Firmino and Jota find top form throughout the campaign, or they will come up short.

We saw that time and again last season, when they went on that horrible run after Christmas, and it became obvious that new blood was needed to relight the fire under this Liverpool team.

That reboot has not taken place, and it means Klopp is facing up to the task of overcoming vastly improved domestic opponents.

Then they will also have a fresh challenge in the Champions League, with Paris Saint-Germain becoming the new Harlem Globetrotters of football after signing Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and a host of proven performers.

Hopefully, my old team will find a way to overcome increasingly difficult odds, but it is hard not to fear that Liverpool are a side fighting to hang on to a top-four place in the Premier League, rather than title challengers.

So long as Klopp is sitting in the Liverpool hot-seat, the fans will have hope miracles can happen.

Klopp’s management brilliance has helped to plug the financial gap between three of the ‘big four’ in English football, but, the reality is, it cannot go on forever.

The day will eventually come when he is no longer working his magic at Anfield. When that happens, Liverpool will be facing an uphill battle to compete at the highest level.

As we saw when Arsene Wenger left Arsenal, a top manager covers up a lot of flaws, and we can see the mess the Gunners are in now.

The fear for Liverpool fans must be that when Klopp’s days in charge come to an end, something similar could happen.


PREMIER LEAGUE NET SPEND

The Premier League’s ‘big six’ splashed the cash in the summer transfer window, with some of the top names in world football coming to England.

Yet Liverpool finished the transfer window in profit for a third time over the last five years, with defender Ibrahima Konate their only big arrival.

With transfer fees often declared as ‘undisclosed’ by clubs, these figures collated by transfermarkt.co.uk give an estimate of the net spend of England’s elite clubs (money spent after incomings and outgoings are calculated), ove the last number of years with Liverpool way behind their rivals in the spending stakes.

Manchester United - £480.9m

Man City - £472.1m

Arsenal - £336.7m

Chelsea - £238.7m

Tottenham - £206.7m

Liverpool - £146.7m

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