Jürgen Klopp claims Liverpool could be a major force in the “future” of football, at home and abroad, as they prepare for a Champions League quarter-final meeting with Porto at Anfield on Tuesday night.
The in-form Merseysiders are still in the thick of the race for both Premier and Champions League titles as they start the tie as heavy favourites against the Portuguese side.
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But, when asked which of the visitors’ stars had attracted his attention, Klopp launched into an impassioned explanation of his view that Liverpool, with their policy of signing players to long-term deals, are poised to become a major power in the game for years to come.
“They are a proper team, a proper team, but I don’t want any players from other teams,” said Klopp of Porto. “You cannot imagine how happy I am with my players that they are still here a lot of them and that they will stay here for the future.
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“We feel in a good moment, we feel that each of our players is fantastic, we feel the future could be – maybe not ours alone – but we could be a hand in the future of football.
“That’s what we try to do but I’m not interested in this moment in players from other clubs, I’m only interested in my boys.”
The Liverpool manager, having narrowly failed to lead Liverpool to the European title last season, insists that his players are relishing the chance to write their own page in his club’s illustrious history books.
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“It’s such a good time,” said Klopp. “It’s warm outside, spring is coming and we are in two big competitions. It’s fine. We have to use the situation. We have not finished the season, we have not finished our development. We want to write a few proper things in our [history] book this season.
“We are on fire. In training you can see we are really in a good moment, but other teams are as well. We all play for a lot. You will see tomorrow night that Porto really wants to go through. It will be a tough one, but that’s how it should be.
“Our development is incredible, especially in this tournament. We used every little step we made in the last years to improve. The boys grew with the challenges they were facing.”
‘Any slip up can cost us’
Meanwhile, defender Virgil van Dijk faces Porto tonight admitting that there is no margin for error in his team’s quest for glory on two fronts. “We know that any points that we drop or any slip-up can cost us,” said Van Dijk.
Read more: Virgil van Dijk plays down his own importance to Liverpool’s season
“That’s the same for them, so the only thing we can do is just keep going. I think the most important thing is just do what we are doing. Enjoy it. Do what we have been doing all season and enjoy every bit of it as well.
“I think all of the teams of the league would love to be in our position right now and that is how we have to look at it. We are in a great situation. It could have been better but it is how it is. We still have a chance to win the title and a chance to win the Champion League.”
Of the pressure to win one of the two major trophies they are competing for, Van Dijk said: “It can become a fear when you read all the media and social media. In this situation you need to be very strong mentally, you need to remember what is important is what we have at Melwood [training ground], what we have within each other, the manager, the staff and what we work on each day.”
With no new injury concerns ahead of the Porto tie, Klopp’s only decision is over who will replace suspended Andy Robertson at left-back – with James Milner favourite to be given the role.