Last August Jurgen Klopp explained why Liverpool would do a deal like the one Manchester United did for Cristiano Ronaldo
As the return of the Premier League edges closer with each tick of the clock, it can only mean one thing. That is, of course, the return of the silly season of transfer rumours which are mainly tasked with filling the void of supporters’ deepest past time over the summer months.
Whether it be the typical word-of-mouth pub chat that links your star player with a move to your nearest foes, or an unknown, faceless Twitter account attaching your dearest club with an audacious move for one of the game’s greatest stars.
Silly season really has no limits.
Last year, the off-season absurdity seemed to reach a crescendo for all of those with a burning attachment to the beautiful game, as one-time Real Madrid Galactico Cristiano Ronaldo was reportedly close to a making a stunning return to the Premier League. However, with the added twist that his return would come in the sky blue colours of Manchester City.
As it transpired, Pep Guardiola supposedly had no interest in gaining the 37-year-old’s signature, leaving him free to rejoin Manchester United in a move seemingly sanctioned by an overdose of early-noughties nostalgia as the forward secured a reported £480k per-week deal.
Wasting no time in reclaiming his famed No.7 shirt, Ronaldo’s first season back in Manchester was somewhat misinterpreted due to his fairly clinical output in the final third. Finishing the season in third place in the hunt for the Premier League Golden Boot, thanks to his return of 18 goals.
However, Ronaldo’s impact away from the penalty area of Old Trafford proved exactly why Jurgen Klopp distanced himself from ever launching such a ridiculous bid a for player of his, or Lionel Messi’s, calibre.
Speaking in August 2021, the Liverpool manager ruled out such an uneconomical move for a player who could hamper his long-term vision for the Reds.
He said: “I watch that like a football supporter actually. I have no more knowledge about it, you probably have much more knowledge about it, if it will happen or not, than I have,” the German told reporters when quizzed about Ronaldo.
“It’s not about me to judge that. It’s about if other clubs can do things like this, it’s obviously not business for the future. In three or four years we will have the benefit of that, it’s for now and immediately if that happens.
“That is how some clubs are obviously working and that is absolutely fine, but there must be different ways. There must be a team a year later and two years later, for us at least. And three years later as well.
“You need success. We felt that if you can win trophies it is great but it’s not, even with the best squad in the world, possible every year. If that’s not possible, you still need to make sure you develop as a team and a club.
“That’s what we did and that’s what we do. Anything else is really not in our hands. We watch it like all of you and will see what happens.”
“With Messi and Ronaldo especially, there might be a commercial aspect to it of course but I don’t think PSG brought Messi in because of the commercial,” he said. “Maybe yes, I don’t know. They brought him in because Messi still has a lot to give for the football team.”
And it appears that Klopp’s tactical veer away from players with the profile Messi or Ronaldo, in both age and wages, – who both switched clubs last summer – seems to have paid off, as reports from The Athletic suggest Ronaldo has been offered to Premier League rivals Chelsea this summer.
It’s a move that, commercial desires aside, would elevate a huge headache from new United boss Erik Ten Hag this summer as looks to stamp his authority on a disgruntled dressing room.
On the pitch, despite the 18 goals he added to the Red Devils over the course of the league campaign, Klopp’s point about having a blueprint in mind for the future seasons was vindicated by the addition of the Portuguese star.
Last summer 22-year-old winger Jadon Sancho, who former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær had pursued for two years, finally put pen to paper on a move to Old Trafford worth a mammoth £73m. Despite the fee, it’s an investment that, if United had played correctly, would have secured the services of one of the game’s brightest forwards for the foreseeable long-term future.
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting Bundesliga exports in years, Sancho’s move should have marked the beginning of a new era as his then-manager Solskjær aimed to build a more robust squad for his fourth season in the Old Trafford dugout.
Instead, the arrival of Ronaldo saw the England international finish with his lowest accumulation of league minutes since the 2017/18 season as he and Marcus Rashford were obliged to play the role of accommodators for the Portugal international. When, in fact, it should have been the 37-year-old accommodating two of England’s finest attacking talents during his two-year Premier League swansong.
Meanwhile, contrary to the difficulties in Manchester, Jurgen Klopp was able to blood youth into his ageing forward line as Luis Diaz (25), Diogo Jota (25) and Kaide Gordon (17) all featured for the Reds in the Premier League.
Liverpool finished a staggering 34 points above Manchester United last season, with Klopp’s comments once again proven right by the Reds’ calculated, resourceful business in the transfer window. It’s no wonder the Red Devils are keen to get their hands on former sporting director Michael Edwards