IT’S not even April and silly season is already upon us, it seems. Transfer-mongers are weaving their webs and agents are attempting to get their clients their 2016-17 contracts sorted before they’ve even entered the last month of this campaign.
Where Liverpool are concerned, transfer talk is never far away, and recent revelations from the journalists that should know are that Jürgen Klopp is already moving to make changes to his squad for next season by earmarking the likes of Piotr Zielinski and Mario Götze as key summer targets.
He has already secured Marko Grujić and Joël Matip for his first full campaign at Anfield, and is apparently already putting the moves in place to get some more signatures sealed before everyone heads off to France for Euro 2016.
There will no doubt be plenty of excitable analysis and general fawning on potential incomings this summer — much of it probably from me — but for now I just want to look at the generality of players of Götze’s ilk wanting to come to Liverpool, as that in itself is rather noteworthy.
I’ll leave the detailed analysis of Götze to others, or at least wait until the lad is being pictured leaning against Melwood’s door, window and/or tea ladies before getting excited about what the fresh-faced World Cup winner can bring.
However, one thing you should already know about him is that he’s a big name. Someone who left Borussia Dortmund as a 20-year old because he felt that a team that had won two Bundesliga titles and reached a Champions League final couldn’t match his ambitions.
Shortly after turning 22, he scored the winning goal in a World Cup final when all other players on the pitch, including Lionel Messi, were finding scoring a goal to be the hardest thing in the world to do.
He also scored the opener against Dortmund for Bayern in a 3-0 win in the Westfalenstadion the first time he played them following his controversial move. The lad undoubtedly has big cojones (or hoden), and he reportedly wants to pack them up and bring them to Liverpool with him.
More to the point, he wants to join Klopp. The Liverpool hierarchy are reportedly confident that with the big German at the helm, the club will be able to attract a higher level of talent that they just couldn’t before.
That’s not to bash Brendan Rodgers, but the fact is that his name simply didn’t have the kudos abroad that Klopp’s does, and one of the several reasons Klopp was earmarked as his replacement was his ability to attract star talent.
That video of Zlatan Ibrahimovic claiming he’d sign for Dortmund for free to play under Klopp has done the rounds plenty in recent times, and after I regained the strength in my knees, it got me pondering what kind of players the club should be ‘realistically’ aiming for this summer. Maybe now with Klopp in charge, we need to look again at what ‘realistic’ is.
Speak to most people and they will agree that this summer’s business at Anfield doesn’t need to be the usual mass overhaul, and that the careful addition of three-four players to improve the first XI will transform this team into one that can challenge the mighty Leicester and the imperious Tottenham for next year’s Premier League title.
Liverpool have already been linked with 95 per cent of the Bundesliga since Klopp’s arrival, and had convinced Alex Teixeira to come to Merseyside in January (they just weren’t able to convince Shakhtar to part with him), while other big names, such as Marc Andre ter Stegen, continue to be mentioned in the same breath as the club.
Whether Götze becomes a Liverpool player or not, the point remains that in Klopp the club has a manager at the helm who can attract names that perhaps it previously couldn’t, and that can only bode well for the future as long as the German remains in L4.
However, it has to be remembered that even after he made a name for himself following his title wins in Dortmund, Klopp never really used that to attract star quality to BVB.
He signed Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when they were on the cusp of breaking through as big names and they became superstars in the yellow shirt. Similar with Marco Reus, Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gündoğan.
Klopp doesn’t target names for the sake of names, he targets players who he feels have the right stuff to be turned into star players in his team.
That could be a lesser-known light like Zielinski or Grujić, or perhaps even a Götze or an Ibrahimovic (I’m watching the video again and you can’t stop me!) but Klopp has made it clear that he only wants players at the football club who want to be at the football club because they know what it is to be at the football club.
That could be why we have the likes of Götze, Zielinski and Jonas Hector publicly begging to come to Anfield several weeks before the transfer window even opens. Notable even more for the fact that not only is the club not confirmed in next season’s Champions League, but at this stage it’s still looking relatively unlikely.
Klopp said last month regarding recruitment: “If a player only wants to come to us to play in the Champions League, short-term ideas are always silly. I don’t like this.
“If you don’t want to help us, and want to jump on a running train, then go somewhere else. That’s it.
“You need the right mentality and quality. That’s how it is. If there’s a player who won’t join Liverpool because we don’t play in the Champions League or will only join because we’re in the Champions League, that’s not for us.”
The manager wants players to play for Liverpool Football Club because they want to play for Liverpool Football Club. As a fictional boxer once said, that’s how winning is done.
Think about it. The exact opposite of that thought process leaves you with Newcastle.
Götze might happen, he might not. All we can do is wait for the tweet from some ITK bod claiming that the club shop has ordered extra boxes of G’s, Z’s and umlauts for putting names on shirts. Either way, the early signs are that recruitment at Liverpool might just be about to make sense for the first time in a long time.
Let’s just hope if it does happen, that this Mario is more super than the last one.
PS: Sign Zlatan.