Jurgen Klopp comments highlights his lack of faith in Liverpool’s squad depth

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When FIFA ruled that Premier League clubs could not field Brazilian players, who were stopped from going on international duty, most managers were stunned. But one boss in particular, Jurgen Klopp, was astonished by the decision. The Liverpool boss struggled last season due to his side’s lack of depth and made just one signing in the summer.

Without a doubt, when at full strength, the Reds have one of the best teams in Europe.

However, when you remove three key elements from that team, as FIFA initially ruled to before their game against Leeds United on Sunday but eventually waived, the squad lacks serious replacements – especially compared to title rivals Manchester City. 

If FIFA went ahead into enforcing Article 5, Klopp would have been without Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson Becker.

It is likely the trio would have been replaced by Diogo Jota, Thiago or Naby Keita and Caoimhin Kelleher.

Of those four, Jota is the only squad member who could feasibly feature regularly in a title-winning side – Keita and Thiago have been unimpressive since joining from the Bundesliga.

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So it is no surprise that Klopp was so furious about FIFA’s ban.

Explaining his thoughts on the situation and why he did not let his trio leave, the former Borussia Dortmund boss told Liverpoolfc.com: “Our players, if they come back then they have to quarantine 10 days in a random hotel, next to the airport probably, which is not good for any people who have to do that but for a professional football player.

“Being 10 days in a hotel – with the food they get from there – you lose everything. You lose muscle, you lose everything. It means 10 days in the hotel, coming back [and] needing pretty much 10 days to get on track again.

“Then the decision was made, not by us: if that’s like this then the players cannot go.

Clearly infuriated, he continued: “The next thing, we have a football game to play again and they tell us we cannot play our Brazilian players. It’s like, ‘Huh?’
“So, we did nothing. We didn’t organise the Copa America, we are not responsible for the games they couldn’t have played. We didn’t invite players, we didn’t say when they come back there’s no exemption. We all didn’t do that.

“But in the end, the only [people] who get punished are the players and the clubs – and we have nothing to do with the whole organisation around. It’s like, ‘What is happening?’”

Klopp was only able to make one purchase over the summer, signing Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig for £36million, but many felt he could and should have brought in reinforcements in midfield and up top as well.

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Forwards Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will be representing their countries in the African Cup of Nations in January, which could leave the Reds vulnerable to not having a cutting edge in the final third. Doubts remain over whether Takumi Minamino be able to step up.

But no matter where the goals come from, Klopp’s comments suggest that he doesn’t hold too much confidence in the quality of his squad after the ever-growing injury list last season. There was a sense of dread concealed inside his words.

In the Covid climate, it is understandable that the Reds may not have the funds to strengthen his squad, but could they clear out some of their irregular starters to restore Klopp’s faith in his bench?

Divock Origi was of interest to Fenerbahçe this summer, while reports suggested that there were enquiries for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. There are several other fringe players who don’t look capable of pushing on at Anfield.

It remains to be seen whether Klopp will be backed by the owners, Fenway Sports Group, sooner rather than later. But when you compare his depth with City and United, it is understandable why he may be somewhat sceptical.

If new signing Cristiano Ronaldo became injured, rivals Man United would have Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford available to pick from as replacements. The same goes for Man City, who almost have too many wingers and midfielders to name capable of playing as a makeshift striker.

Rumours have circulated that there is interest in the likes of Jude Bellingham, Kylian Mbappe and Kingsley Coman, and all will cost a significant fee, either in wages or as a transfer fee.

If Liverpool do suffer from a run of bad luck with injuries again then defensively they should be sound. But in other areas, Klopp has every right to be concerned about their lack of depth derailing their title chances once again.

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