Jurgen Klopp has vowed to drive any player to their club of choice if they want to leave Liverpool in the wake of their failure to qualify for the Champions League.
The Anfield boss doesn’t believe that dropping out of Europe’s elite after six seasons will lead to a star name demanding a move this summer.
Mohamed Salah, his 30-goal top scorer, declared that he was “total devastated” after Manchester United’s win over Chelsea on Thursday condemned Liverpool to a fifth placed finish. The Egyptian said there was “no excuse” for failing to achieve “the bare minimum”.
However, Klopp insists Salah is as committed as anyone to putting things right next season.
“Mo loves being here,” he said.
“He was part of the apologies for what we did, not apologies for what the other guys did. No, it is all fine.
“If ever a player comes to me and says: ‘We didn’t qualify for the Champions League, now I have to leave’ then I would drive him to the other club. I’d take the key and ask: ‘Where do you want to go? I will drive you’. That would be something I would never understand.
“I would never say: ‘I need to work in the Champions League so now I go.’ I am responsible for this ‘mess’ or whatever. You cannot go in these moments.
“Nobody has asked me (about leaving). They asked me if they could have a day longer holiday or whatever, but nobody asked me if after their holiday they have to come back. That’s not been in our conversations.”
Liverpool will be competing in the Europa League next season for the first time since Klopp took over during the 2015-16 campaign.
After getting to grips with the term “booby prize”, Klopp went on to explain why he will embrace life in the second tier competition.
“What is a booby?! I needed to come fifth to learn that word,” he said.
“No, it’s not for me. I understand where you are coming from. On the level we usually perform it is about Champions League because of the money, because of the opponents and all this.
“It is not that I follow in the last four years group stage games of the Europa League a lot because when you are in the Champions League you have a lot of other things to do but I love European competitions. And for me that’s no different.
“I know when you play there’s no difference. There will be difficult opponents, different countries probably and in the end a massive prize to win. Not that I say now we will do that, but we will try it, definitely.
“People may think in this moment ‘ah, it’s just the Europa League’ but I am 100 per cent sure that come the first whistle, Thursday night, whoever the opponent, Anfield will be rocking. That is all I need.
“If somebody wants to go through the whole year and think ‘ah but it’s not Champions League’, I cannot help that person.
“Life is like this, you try everything until it is decided and then you accept it and go from there. If you are constantly worrying about what you could have done different — all these ifs — they are not important anymore and they are not helpful and if they are not helpful then knock them out.”
Klopp revealed that young midfielder Stefan Bajcetic is on course to return to action in pre-season. His breakthrough campaign was ended prematurely in March due to an adductor injury.
“There’s progress. Yesterday talking to the doc, around the start of pre-season there will be parts of re-integration, not full training,” Klopp said.
“He is completely pain free but we are talking about a very young player so we have to be careful. Like we had to be super careful with Curtis (Jones). It is annoying for the player, train two days and then two days off not to take any risks – that might be the plan with Stefan.
“I hope he can come with us to the training camp and then be fine for the start of the season. With these kind of injuries there is no real timeline behind it. We have to wait for the next assessments and go from there, but it is positive. By the end of the pre-season I think he will have hopefully been in full training for a week or two.”
Liverpool conclude their 2022-23 season against Southampton on Sunday.
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