Premier League • England

Eight of Jurgen Klopp’s biggest transfer regrets during his time at Liverpool: Keita, Bellingham and more…

Naby Keita and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Jude Bellingham playing for Real Madrid.

Naby Keita and Jude Bellingham are among Jurgen Klopp's biggest transfer mistakes

While Jurgen Klopp has made a number of brilliant signings for Liverpool, he hasn’t always got it right in the transfer market.

The likes of Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Mohamed Salah arrived at Anfield and helped turn Klopp’s side into European and World Champions.

But it isn’t always plain sailing as the 56-year-old has had some difficult times at Liverpool and probably regrets some of his decisions.

We’ve taken a look at eight of his worst decisions in the transfer market since becoming Liverpool’s manager in October 2015.

Loris Karius

One of Klopp’s first signings at Liverpool, Karius joined the Reds in a £4.75million deal in the summer of 2016 after impressing at Mainz and was handed the No.1 shirt.

He made several mistakes in his debut campaign but Klopp still kept faith in the goalkeeper, which proved a costly decision.

The 30-year-old started in the 2018 Champions League final but produced an error-strewn display and was at fault for two of Real Madrid’s goals as Liverpool lost 3-1.

While Klopp realised his mistake and signed Alisson Becker after that defeat, he’ll know that the Reds might have beaten Madrid in Kyiv if they had bought a less error-prone goalkeeper in 2016.

Luis Alberto

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and few would have argued with Klopp’s decision to sell Alberto to Lazio for £4.2million in 2016.

But the Spain international, who made just nine Premier League appearances, then developed into of the best midfielders in Europe.

He’s registered over 120 direct goal contributions during his time in Italy and has helped Lazio win two Supercoppa Italiana titles and a Coppa Italia.

The 31-year-old is renowned for his creativity and would’ve been an ideal replacement for Philippe Coutinho if he’d stayed at Anfield.

“He was very young when he came to Liverpool like I was when I arrived,” Lucas Leiva told The Athletic. “Probably he didn’t have the luck I had in having a manager who could maybe have been a bit more patient with him.

“The quality was always there and he had to go (on loan) to Spain to get more experience. Then he moved to Lazio and his first year wasn’t easy. But afterwards, he just found himself. He could show his qualities and has been one of the best players in the league the last few years. His quality in the final third is incredible.”

Naby Keita

The summer of 2017 will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest transfer windows in Liverpool’s recent history.

Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson joined Klopp’s side for a combined £42million and the duo have both played an integral role in Liverpool’s recent success.

But the Reds will have some regrets as they broke their transfer record and agreed a deal in principle to sign RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita in a £52.75million deal.

To put that in context, Manchester City signed Bernardo Silva for £43.5million and Wolves bought Ruben Neves for £15.8million in 2017.

The Guinea international took the No.8 shirt after arriving at Anfield in 2018 and was heralded by some as the heir to Steven Gerrard.

While he showed glimpses of his talents, the midfielder failed to justify his price tag and his time on Merseyside was plagued by recurring injury problems and inconsistent form.

Keita left Liverpool on a free transfer at the end of the 2022/23 season, having registered 11 goals and seven assists in 129 appearances.

Dusan Tadic

From Peter Crouch to Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool have bought seven players from Southampton in the Premier League era. But one player that they missed out on was Tadic, who spent four years with the Saints before joining Ajax in a £9.7million deal in 2018.

“I was very angry with myself when he went to Ajax because I was also interested in him,” Klopp told Dutch broadcaster RTL. “I love him as a player.”

Admittedly, Liverpool did alright without him as they won the Champions League and the Premier League over the following two years.

But Tadic enjoyed a remarkable debut season at Ajax, registering 38 goals and 23 assists in 56 appearances in all competitions.

The Serbia international would’ve given Liverpool something extra in a season where they finished just one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Failing to replace Dejan Lovren

Lovren split opinion during his time at Anfield and completed a £10.9million move to Zenit Saint Petersburg after falling out of favour in 2019/20.

The Reds – who had just won the Premier League title – decided against buying a centre-back to replace the Croatia international.

Lovren’s departure was followed by an unprecedented injury crisis at Liverpool as Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez all spent time on the treatment table.

Klopp’s side struggled defensively and often had to play Jordan Henderson and Fabinho at centre-back during a turbulent and trophyless season.

Lovren, meanwhile, rediscovered his best form and helped Zenit win the Russian Super Cup and Premier League in 2020/21.

“I made the decision to leave Liverpool,” he said in 2021. “I wasn’t feeling happy there towards the end, because I wasn’t playing. I am happy that I decided to come here and I think they miss me more than I miss them.

“Jurgen Klopp knows that, we sometimes chat and he once wrote to me that he misses me. I did not answer that.”

Not buying a midfielder in 2022

While Liverpool fans were calling for the club to sign a new midfielder in the summer of 2022, Klopp insisted he didn’t need reinforcements in the middle of the park.

But Liverpool endured a disastrous start to the 2022/23 season and it soon became apparent that midfield was their biggest weakness.

“I know we have had this discussion since it all started and I am the one who said we don’t need a midfielder and you were all right and I was wrong,” Klopp admitted in August 2022.

“That’s the situation. There is really nothing more to say about it. We are looking for it, and if it is the right player we need him and if it is not the right player we don’t need him.”

The Reds left it too late and they were only able to sign Juventus’ Arthur Melo on a season-long loan deal. The Brazil international made just one first-team appearance in 2022/23 due to injuries and Liverpool missed out on Champions League qualification.

Darwin Nunez

Klopp spent over £60million on three players during his time at Liverpool, signing Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk and Darwin Nunez.

While Alisson and Van Dijk both made an immediate impact at Anfield, Nunez has struggled to justify his price tag.

The striker joined Liverpool from Benfica in 2022 in a deal worth an initial £64.2million and another £20.8million in add-ons, which would make him the most expensive signing in their history.

He has scored just 16 Premier League goals during his first 18 months at Liverpool, and he has been guilty of missing some huge opportunities.

While the 24-year-old could prove to be a great player for Klopp’s successor, the early signs suggest that Liverpool paid well over the odds in a summer where Erling Haaland joined Manchester City for £53million.

Jude Bellingham

After starring for Borussia Dortmund and England, Bellingham emerged as Liverpool’s top transfer target in 2023.

The Reds ultimately decided not to pursue the midfielder due to the money involved, and he joined Real Madrid in a deal worth an initial £88.5million and another £26.5million in add-ons.

“We are not children,” Klopp said. “When you ask a five-year-old what they want for Christmas and they say a Ferrari, you wouldn’t say ‘oh, that’s a good idea’.

“You would say ‘no, that is too expensive and anyway, you cannot drive it’. If this kid is then unhappy their whole life because he cannot get a Ferrari, it would be a really sad life.

“You look what you can do, and you work with that. What we need and what we want, we try absolutely everything to get it, but there are moments when you have to accept that this or that is not possible for us – you step aside and do different stuff.”

But Liverpool still spent £145million in the summer of 2023 and were willing to pay another £111million for Moises Caicedo, who decided to join Chelsea.

Bellingham has since enjoyed a sensational start to his Madrid career, establishing himself as one of the best players in the world.

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