Jurgen Klopp has warned Liverpool’s Premier League rivals that the leaders are laying the foundations for long-term success. Klopp’s side sit four points clear at the top as they chase Liverpool’s first English title since 1990.
But the Liverpool boss does not want this season’s potential title triumph to be a one-off. The German believes the willingness of Liverpool’s owner John W Henry to reward star players with improved contracts is key to fulfilling his ambition for sustained success.
Andrew Robertson is the latest to commit himself to the club. His new five-year contract follows long-term deals for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson. “In general it’s always a good sign to have the opportunity to extend contracts early,” Klopp said.
“If we can keep these boys together, we are in the middle of our development, so it’s good news for Liverpool. These 17-18 players plus the really young boys, that’s the squad of the future. It should be like this. It’s investment, the club gave us the opportunity to do it. Really nice.”
Klopp is yet to win a trophy since taking charge at Liverpool but there are plenty of signs he is on the verge of ending that drought this term. While Klopp would not be drawn on just how successful Liverpool can be with their current crop, he agreed they are now strong enough, on and off the pitch, for a period of challenging for major honours.
“Progress is something everybody should expect. The club gave us a fantastic opportunity to bring in outstanding players, to keep outstanding players. My job is to make sure we perform on the pitch,” he said.
“Where will we be in two or three years? I have no idea but the age group is good. This season will not finish our development. It doesn’t look like we’ll lose any key player (and) we build a new training ground, another step in the future,” added Klopp, ahead of today’s clash with Crystal Palace.
Sarri focussed on pitch as Higuain deal drags on
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will not be able to call on Gonzalo Higuain for today’s visit to Arsenal but said his focus was already on the game and not moves in the transfer market. Higuain is expected to complete a loan move from Juventus but no deal was announced before the midday deadline yesterday for the Argentine striker to be registered to enable him to feature at the Emirates.
Sarri previously coached Higuain at Napoli when he scored a Serie A record 36 goals in 2015/16. That sort of firepower is what Chelsea have been badly missing in recent months, with Sarri’s lack of confidence in Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud forcing Eden Hazard into an unfamiliar centre-forward role.
Sarri said he had made the club’s director Marina Granovskaia aware of what his side needed. “I spoke with Marina two weeks ago, so Marina knows very well my opinion how to improve the team,” said Sarri. “Then I decide to be focused on the pitch, on matches, on training. I don’t call her every evening, otherwise I spend all my mental energy on the market and I think it’s better if I spend all my mental energies on the pitch.”
Morata, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid for £60mn in July 2017, has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid but Sarri didn’t rule out the possibility that the Spain striker could face Arsenal.
“For him I think it’s a very difficult moment, but it’s normal for a player in January to be in the market,” said Sarri, who omitted Morata from his squad for last week’s win over Newcastle.
Chelsea start the weekend in fourth place and victory today would see them go nine points clear of Arsenal, currently fifth, in the race for Champions League qualification. “This match for us is a risk and an opportunity,” Sarri said. “They’re really a very good team. (In) the offensive phase they are one of the best teams in the Premier League. We can be dangerous against these opponents, but we have to defend with a very high level of application and attention for 95 minutes.”
Premier League fixtures
Today (1500 GMT unless stated): Wolverhampton v Leicester (1230), Bournemouth v West Ham, Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Manchester United v Brighton, Newcastle v Cardiff, Southampton v Everton, Watford v Burnley, Arsenal v Chelsea (1730)
Tomorrow: Huddersfield v Manchester City (1330), Fulham v Tottenham (1600)
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