Klopp praises 'classy' Real after Liverpool exit Champions League
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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will need the full backing of the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group in order to rebuild his ageing squad, who saw their limitations exposed by Real Madrid over two legs in the first knockout round of the Champions League. The Reds crashed out of the tournament on Wednesday evening as they failed to overturn a three-goal deficit at the Bernabeu, with Karim Benzema’s winner on the night sending Real Madrid into the quarter-finals after their 5-2 triumph in last month’s first leg at Anfield.
The result marked another low point in a hugely disappointing campaign for Liverpool, who are on course to finish the season without lifting a major trophy after being outclassed by their Spanish opponents in Europe once again. It seems clear that another expensive rebuild could soon be on the horizon at Anfield as it becomes increasingly clear that Liverpool are no longer the feared beast they were only a couple of years ago, with many of their most important players no longer doing the business.
The loss of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich in the summer has coincided with Liverpool’s downturn in fortunes this season, while the likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk have looked past their best in recent months as they approach the latter stages of their respective careers. Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have also struggled to impress on a consistent basis over the course of the campaign and that is before the large amount of deadwood in Liverpool’s squad is even taken into consideration.
The task of rebuilding a misfiring team is one that Klopp has been no stranger to since moving to Merseyside back in 2015 when the Reds were hurtling downhill after reaching their collective peak and in need of fresh faces in order to ensure their longevity. The scale of the job at hand was as clear then as it is now and Klopp previously revealed that FSG went out of their way to apologise for the sorry state of the squad at his disposal by way of text.
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“At the beginning, I received a message from the US saying, ‘Sorry for the squad we’ve given you’,” Klopp revealed in 2021. “But all was good I replied, it just needs time.”
FSG went on to back Klopp by bankrolling a large-scale rebuilding process over several years that resulted in a squad being built to go on and conquer world football. The Reds did just that by winning the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup at the peak of their powers but are currently a far cry from the side they once were, which suggests that Klopp will now be relying on the patience of their American backers once again as he aims to lead another comprehensive overhaul at Anfield.
It seems clear that FSG could be forced to spend a large amount of money in order to get Liverpool firing on all cylinders once again, such is the modern climate of the transfer market given the wild inflation in football since the Reds last rebuilt their playing squad. Significant fees were dished out to sign players like Van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Fabinho and it is only logical that more records could be broken over the coming years if Liverpool are serious about climbing back to the very top.
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They will also need to trim their squad by getting rid of some fringe players to make room for new arrivals, with the likes of Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain simply not good enough to play a continued role for Liverpool when the Reds would benefit more from some new longer-term signings in midfield. Attacking reinforcements will also be required following the imminent departure of Firmino, who is set to leave the club at the end of the season after eight successful years on their books.
It remains to be seen how Liverpool will approach the next few transfer windows as Klopp looks to lead another rebuilding process with the help of FSG, who will need to give the 55-year-old their full support in order to successfully return to contention for domestic and European titles. It seems obvious that a changing of the guard is needed in the dressing room at Anfield, although only time will tell how the club’s decision-makers will go about the process in the not-too-distant future.
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