Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has detailed a phone call he had with Cody Gakpo before the ex-PSV star’s transfer. But FSG cannot rely on similar outcomes in the summer.
Without at least one more January signing, Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp will know that they cannot expect much to change over the course of the next few months.
Since the return of domestic football after the World Cup, the Reds have been inconsistent. Even with a full, first-choice starting XI on the field, they have not performed anything like their true selves, and the results they have picked up have been mixed to say the least.
Even one more addition as well as Cody Gakpo is unlikely to completely change that, if indeed it happens. Another midfielder would be welcome in the transfer window, of course, but the current issues feel more significant than one player being able to fix them.
There were easier moments to join Liverpool,” Klopp told reporters on Friday ahead of the 2-2 draw with Wolves, speaking about the capture of Gakpo from PSV for an initial $45m (£37m/€42m).
Last year we were not qualified already for the Champions League but it looked like that would happen. This year we cannot guarantee that. But Cody never asked! From time to time, players ask. ‘Do you think you’ll make Champions League?’ Stuff like this. He can read the table himself so knew it would be a tight decision.
What I really like about this is he’s obviously a guy who doesn’t want to jump on a running train, he wants to push the train. I like that a lot. Good for him as well because it always helps in life if you are a little bit like that…”
Klopp spoke over the phone with Gakpo before his move — a meeting in person was not possible — and he was impressed with what he heard. Helping to push the train is a phrase that he has used many times before as Liverpool aimed to make themselves regulars in the Champions League, but they cannot only sign players who are prepared to miss out on the best competition.
Being comfortable with a move to Anfield with their top four place at risk is not necessarily the norm for the level of player that Liverpool are hoping to attract, and that means that FSG should have no choice but to make more moves in the January market to try and avoid the Reds missing out on the Champions League this season.
Aside from the financial implications of not making the top four, Liverpool’s main rivals when signing Gakpo were Manchester United. Erik ten Hag’s men are in a similar position currently: hoping to be in the Champions League spots at the end of the season, but with nothing certain at this stage.
Liverpool’s pursuit of Jude Bellingham, for example, would economically be helped to a large extent by them being inside the top four after 38 Premier League matches, but their pitch to the player would also be a lot easier that being the case.
After all, Real Madrid and Manchester City certainly will be in Europe’s top competition next season, and both of those sides can as near as guarantee that they will be for the foreseeable future.
When your transfer policy is either to sign only the very best or sign no one at all, being in the Champions League is important. Gakpo might have been willing to join Liverpool even without it being certain, but come the summer, the same might not be said for some of the other players being targeted.