Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool want players undeterred by Champions League absence

Jürgen Klopp is confident Liverpool will attract high-calibre signings such as Mario Götze this summer without Champions League football and prefers players who are willing to “push the train, not jump on the running train”.

The Liverpool manager, who will be without Christian Benteke for at least one month because of a knee ligament injury sustained on international duty, refused to comment on his interest in the Bayern Munich forward. Götze is understood to be keen on a reunion with his former Borussia Dortmund coach following an underwhelming spell at the Allianz Arena and Liverpool are confident of securing a deal.

But, discussing transfers generally, Klopp says the likely absence of Champions League football at Anfield next season will not dissuade his leading targets from signing. He would, however, be reluctant to pursue players whose priority is the Champions League and not the challenge of reviving Liverpool’s fortunes.

Klopp said: “Obviously not 100% but maybe 80% we are not in the Champions League next year so, if I would speak to a player now and he would tell me: ‘If you were playing in the Champions League next year then I would be really interested,’ I would put the phone down from my side.

“I always tell players if, when you are 35 or 36, you look back on your career and think about the one year you didn’t play Champions League, then you are really a poor boy. There are so many things you can do and reach if you go together with the team. You can qualify for the Champions League, play Champions League, maybe win it or whatever. That is a much more satisfying thing than all the rest. That is what I would say to players: ‘It is about pushing the train, not jumping on a running train.’ That is what we need here.

“If somebody says: ‘But you don’t play Champions League next year’, then goodbye and thank you, have fun next year wherever you will be. We will find players or we have players already that will go our way. That is not my way, that is the normal way for a club not playing in the Champions League.”

When asked during the international break about Liverpool’s interest Götze replied: “Ask Klopp.” Klopp was asked about the prospect of a £15m-£20m move for the 23-year-old this summer.

“Liverpool is great, really great, the city and the club,” said the manager. “It is easy to know I like Mario Götze. It was not the best day in my life when I heard he was going to Bayern Munich. I have known him since he was 16. That is a long trip but he is still a young player. That is the only difference to all the other players around. I would never say anything about a transfer, whether we are interested or not. It is not important. We can talk two hours about Mario Götze but it would not change one per cent whether he comes here or goes wherever. I know him better than other players, that is right.”

Benteke injured a knee while training with Belgium last week. The £32.5m striker underwent a scan on Friday that revealed damage to his lateral collateral ligament, and the striker is expected to be sidelined for at least a month.

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