Jurgen Klopp has pledged to drive any player to the club of his choice if he wants to leave Liverpool after failing to qualify for the Champions League.
The Anfield boss doesn’t believe dropping out of Europe’s top flight after six seasons will lead to a star name demanding a move this summer.
Mohamed Salah, their top scorer with 30 goals, said he was “totally devastated” after Manchester United’s win over Chelsea on Thursday condemned Liverpool to a fifth-place finish. The Egyptian said there was ‘no excuse’ for not reaching ‘the bare minimum’.
However, Klopp insists Salah is as determined as anyone to put things right next season.
“Mo loves being here,” he said.
“He was part of apologizing for what we did, not apologizing for what the other guys did. No. Everything is fine.
“If a player ever came to me and said, ‘We haven’t qualified for the Champions League, now I have to go’, I would drive him to the other club. I would take the key and ask: ‘Where Do you want to go? I’ll 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’m going. I’m responsible for this “mess” or whatever. You can’t go there at such times.
“Nobody asked me (to leave). They asked me if they could have one more day of vacation or anything, but nobody asked me if after their vacation they should come back. That was not in our conversations.
Liverpool will enter the Europa League next season for the first time since Klopp took over in 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 the hell?! I had to come fifth to learn that word,” he said.
“No, it’s not for me. I understand where you’re coming from. At the level we usually play, it’s about the Champions League because of the money, because of the opponents and all that.
“It’s not that I follow the group stage games of the last four years of the Europa League a lot because when you’re in the Champions League you have a lot of other things to do, but I love the European competitions. And for me, it’s no different.
“I know when you play there is no difference. There will be tough opponents, different countries probably and in the end a huge prize to be won. Not that I’m saying now we’re going to do it, but we’re definitely going to try it.
“People may think at the moment ‘ah, it’s just the Europa League’ but I’m 100 per cent sure that at the first whistle on Thursday night, whoever they are against, Anfield will rock. That’s all that I need.
“If someone wants to spend the whole year and thinks ‘ah but it’s not the Champions League’, I can’t help that person.
“Life is like this, you try everything until it’s decided and then you accept it and go from there. If you constantly worry about what you could have done differently – all those ifs – they don’t are more important and they are not useful and if they are not useful then knock them out.
Klopp has revealed that young midfielder Stefan Bajcetic is set to return to action in pre-season. His breakthrough campaign ended prematurely in March due to an adductor injury.
“There is progress. Talking to the doc yesterday, towards the start of pre-season there will be reintegration parts, not full training,” Klopp said.
“He’s completely painless but we’re talking about a very young player so we have to be careful. Like we have to be super careful with Curtis (Jones). It’s a hassle for the player to train two days then two days rest so you don’t take any risks, maybe that’s the plan with Stefan.
“I hope he can come with us to training camp and be fine for the start of the season. With these kinds of injuries, there is no real timetable behind it. We have to wait the next assessments and go from there, but it’s positive. By the end of pre-season, I think he will have hopefully been in full training for a week or two.
Liverpool will conclude their 2022-23 season against Southampton on Sunday.
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