Newcastle, who face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Saturday evening, were sold by Mike Ashley to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund for £305million in October 2021.
The St James’ Park faithful may choose to bare their teeth at Jurgen Klopp when Newcastle host Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday evening.
The two teams have experienced vastly different seasons, with the Magpies pushing for a return to European action, sitting five points above the Reds in ninth. Eddie Howe’s side boast the best defensive record in the top flight, conceding just 13 goals in 22 games, less than half of the 28 their opponents this weekend have shipped.
While scoring goals continues to be a problem, Newcastle’s upwards trajectory is clear to see – as is Liverpool’s downward spiral. After many years competing at the top, the Anfield club need a miracle to qualify for the Champions League and a summer overhaul is on the cards.
The landscape of the Premier League is changing as Newcastle return to the fore following their £305million takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund back in October 2021. This will come as no surprise to Klopp, who has spoken with admiration for Howe and the work he has done on Tyneside while also criticising the club’s controversial ownership by the sovereign wealth fund of a country with a human rights record described as “atrocious” by Amnesty International.
Speaking at the time of the takeover being sanctioned, Klopp questioned why there was no statement from Premier League chief executive Richard Masters regarding “concerns over human rights issues”. He also voiced his fears over the creation of a “super team” with near-unlimited funds, drawing comparisons to Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City and Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain, half a year after the European Super League fiasco.
Newcastle have spent over £250million on signings since their takeover. Many expected they would have shelled out more than that across three transfer windows, but Magpies chiefs are taking a shrewd, patient approach to investment and expectations.
Howe led Newcastle to an 11th-place finish last season and drew praise from Klopp, who described them as “probably the most improved team in the Premier League this year” in August 2022. The German was speaking before the Reds defeated Newcastle 2-1 at Anfield thanks to a last-gasp winner from Fabio Carvalho.
During his post-match media duties, Klopp hit out at Newcastle’s time-wasting towards the end of the fixture, and he was just as scathing about the rising force of the North-East two months later. Ahead of a fixture against Manchester City last October, Klopp again hit out at state-owned clubs, declaring: “There is no ceiling for Newcastle. Congratulations, but other clubs have ceilings.”
At the end of 2022, Klopp’s comments were slightly more subtle as he said, “We all knew that Newcastle would be a massive contender,” while discussing the race for a top-four finish. A matter of days later, the Liverpool manager appeared to hark back to his “no ceilings” remark as he said, “We cannot play like Monopoly,” when it comes to transfer business.
Newcastle fans are unlikely to have forgotten Klopp’s regular barbs in their club’s direction, so expect a fiery atmosphere as the Reds roll up to St James’ Park this weekend.