Jurgen Klopp has told his Liverpool squad he would be prepared to personally drive any of his players to another club if they decided they wanted to pursue a transfer because of their failure to secure Champions League qualification. The Reds’ turbulent form earlier in the season means they have narrowly missed out on the top four despite a spirited turnaround, having won seven of their last eight matches.
Liverpool’s last top-flight defeat came back on April 1 when they were brutally swatted aside by champions Manchester City in a 4-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.
But despite the natural disappointment, Klopp is confident his players will stomach the blow before regrouping this summer and going again next season.
Klopp has no concern that any of his players will request a transfer so they can continue playing Champions League football but if that did materialise, he warned they should expect a savage response.
The German said ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton: “If ever a player would come to me, and said: ‘oh we didn’t qualify for the Champions League, I have to leave, I would drive him to the other club myself.
“I would take the key, [and say] ‘come in the car, where do you want to go, I drive you’.
“That would be something I never could understand. It is like I would say [emphasised with childish voice] ‘oh we didn’t qualify for the Champions League, I need to work in the Champions League so I go’.”
Liverpool have already said their goodbyes to departing quartet Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita but the Reds boss remains hopeful there will not be too many more exits.
Mohamed Salah was the first Liverpool player to take to social media following his side’s disappointment and he accepted total responsibility for his side’s shortcomings.
“We let you [fans] and ourselves down,” said the 30-year-old attacker, who helped fire Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2019.
“We had everything we needed to make it to next year’s Champions League and we failed.
“We are Liverpool and qualifying for the competition is the bare minimum. I am sorry but it’s too soon for an uplifting or optimistic post.”
Salah penned a new long-term Liverpool contract last summer and is expected to remain central to Klopp’s Anfield project moving forward.
Liverpool are expected to spend heavily in the summer transfer market when three midfielders and one defender are on the agenda.
Yet any player that arrives at Anfield this summer must accept that they will be playing Europa League football next season.
Klopp is still confident Liverpool have the pulling power to attract top players – even without Champions League football.
“We are still Liverpool and we are really attractive for a lot of players, we should not forget that. That’s why I’m not concerned about that fact,” he said earlier this month.
“Everything is of course more difficult without Champions League, especially in the long term, and we have to not do these things more often.”