Premier League • England

Ten of the best players Jurgen Klopp missed out on during his time at Liverpool: Bellingham, Tchouameni…

Jude Bellingham at Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Ousmane Dembele at Borussia Dortmund.

Jurgen Klopp wanted to bring Jude Bellingham and Ousmane Dembele to Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp has made some brilliant signings during his time at Liverpool – but he has also missed out on some of his top targets. 

The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker helped Liverpool win the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup.

But they have spent considerably less than Manchester United and Manchester City in recent years and Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have been accused of not backing the manager in the transfer market.

We’ve taken a look at 10 of the best players that Liverpool have missed out on during Klopp’s reign.

Alex Teixeira

After taking over at Liverpool, Klopp wanted to add more firepower to the squad and identified Teixeira as a primary transfer target in January 2016.

The Reds made a £24.6million bid for the then-Shakhtar Donetsk forward, who had scored 26 goals in 26 appearances in the first half of the 2015/16 season.

“I am sure that without the agreement of Klopp there would not be a discussion with Liverpool,” Shakhtar’s general director said. “He wants to have a personal meeting with Teixeira in Liverpool.”

But the Ukranian side rejected the offer and set a £38million asking price, which was deemed excessive by Liverpool’s transfer committee.

They opted against going back in with an improved offer and Teixeira ultimately joined Chinese Super League side Jiansu Suning.

Ousmane Dembele

Dembele enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough season at Rennes in 2015/16 and attracted interest from a series of top European clubs.

Klopp met the winger for talks about a potential switch to Liverpool in 2016, but he had already agreed personal terms with another club.

“I saw Klopp in Paris but I told him I’d made up my mind to sign for BVB,” the France international told FourFourTwo in 2017.

He spent a year at Borussia Dortmund before moving to Barcelona in a deal worth an initial £97million and another £38million in potential add-ons.

Ben Chilwell

After Alberto Moreno’s poor performance against Sevilla in the 2016 Europa League final, Klopp looked to bolster his options at left-back.

Liverpool tried to sign Chilwell from Leicester City and they tabled an offer of £5million plus £2million in add-ons for the then 19-year-old.

The Foxes rejected the bid and asked for £10million but Liverpool weren’t willing to pay that for a player who was yet to make his Premier League debut.

Chilwell has since made over 150 appearances in the top-flight, and he completed a £45million move to Chelsea in 2020.

Thomas Lemar

Lemar shot to prominence in the 2016/17 campaign after helping Monaco win Ligue 1 and reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Liverpool submitted two offers – the second worth £64.8million – in a bid to sign the France international in the summer of 2017.

While those offers were rejected, members of Liverpool’s staff were sent to Paris on transfer deadline day to carry out a medical if a compromise could be reached.

But Liverpool walked away from the deal after Monaco upped their asking price to £90million, and he stayed at the Ligue 1 side for another year before joining Atletico Madrid in 2018.

Nabil Fekir

Unlike Lemar, Fekir completed a medical at Liverpool and even conducted an unveiling interview with LFCTV in 2018.

Liverpool had agreed to pay Lyon £53million for the France international, who was earmarked as the ideal replacement for Philippe Coutinho.

But the Reds decided to pull the plug on the deal at the 11th hour after his medical reportedly flagged up concerns about an old knee injury.

The midfielder – who believes his agent was responsible for the scuppered move – remained at Lyon for the 2018/19 season before joining Real Betis in a £17.7million deal.

Timo Werner

Werner scored 34 goals in 45 appearances for RB Leipzig in 2019/20 and established himself as one of the most highly-rated forwards in Europe.

A move to Liverpool looked nailed on and Klopp reportedly had several phone calls with the Germany international, who expressed a desire to make the switch to Anfield.

But the coronavirus pandemic struck and Liverpool hesitated, allowing Chelsea to swoop in and trigger the £47.5million release clause in his contract.

The forward failed to live up to expectations during his two years at Stamford Bridge, but he did still win the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA World Club Cup.

Former Chelsea duo Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic

Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic celebrate Chelsea goal in 2020

Aurelien Tchouameni

After starring for Monaco in 2021/22, Tchoumaeni won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award and moved to the top of Liverpool’s shopping list.

Klopp reportedly made a personal trip to Monaco in order to convince him to move to Anfield, and he also had a phone call with the defensive midfielder.

But Real Madrid – the team who beat Liverpool in the 2022 Champions League final – won the race for his signature after paying an initial £68million and another £17.3million in add-ons.

“The first to come forward was Liverpool,” Tchouameni told Le Parisien. “We had discussions. Then Real arrived. And in my head everything was clear. It was Real and not another. It’s the biggest club in the world.”

Jude Bellingham

Liverpool held a long-standing interest in Bellingham and appeared to have positioned themselves as the leading candidates to sign the midfielder in 2023.

But they pulled out of the race 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.”

The England international has made an immediate impact at Madrid and is widely regarded as one of the world’s best players.

Moises Caicedo

After Jordan Henderson and Fabinho moved to the Saudi Pro-League, Caicedo emerged as Liverpool’s primary target to fill the No 6 role.

The Reds reached an agreement with Brighton & Hove Albion after submitting an offer worth £111million, and he was expected to travel to Merseyside for a medical.

But the Ecuador international turned down the club in favour of a switch to Chelsea, who ultimately paid Brighton an initial £100million and another £15million in potential bonuses.

“In the summer I suffered a lot because it was complicated to leave Brighton,” he told Sky Sports. “They were with me, and in the last moment Liverpool called me but it was [too] late because I wanted to play for Chelsea. It was tough to say no to Chelsea.”

Romeo Lavia

Caicedo was not the only midfielder Liverpool missed out on to Chelsea in the summer of 2023, with Lavia also choosing to ply his trade at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool expressed their interest in the Belgium international and saw bids worth £37million, £41million and £45million rejected by Southampton.

After missing out on Caicedo, the Reds went back in for Lavia and struck a £60million agreement with the Championship side.

But their efforts were ultimately in vain as the 20-year-old had his heart set on a move to Chelsea, and he signed a year-year contract at the club.

Other honourable mentions: Piotr Zielinski, Mahmoud Dahoud, Mario Gotze, Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Christian Pulisic.

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