Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged everyone to stay calm when it comes to handling the futures of some of their biggest stars.
Virgil van Dijk, who along with Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold has 18 months left on his contract, has said he was curious to see where the club was heading with Klopp’s departure pending and admitted he did not know whether he would be part of a new era at Anfield.
That has sparked concerns a period of inertia – Liverpool currently do not have a sporting director in place after Jorg Schmadtke’s short-term appointment was ended – until the identity of the new manager is known could lead to the break up of a squad which Klopp believes has been rebuilt sufficiently to continue challenging after he has gone.
Asked whether there was a danger the squad could break up, Klopp said: “No, I don’t think so but it is completely normal.
“It was always clear, when I spoke about what I spoke about, the outside world will not give you a second to process it, to think about it. It is ‘what are you doing?’.
“A week ago when no one knew about my decision and there were 18 months on the contracts, nobody asked. So give us a break, give the boys a break.
“Nobody has to worry. This club is stable, 100 per cent, and everything will be fine, I am 100 per cent sure, and the rest we have to get through. I would recommend to stay calm in this department, massively.”
Klopp argued it would have been unfair and disrespectful to players who have played a major part in their success together to tie them down to new contracts when they had no idea he would not be manager next season.
The German informed owners Fenway Sports Group of his decision in November but the players were not told until Friday. However, Klopp said there is plenty of time to sort their futures.
Ibrahima Konate believes news of Jürgen Klopp’s departure will give the players extra motivation to end the manager’s last season at Anfield on a high 🔴
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 30, 2024
“The club knew about my departure for a while and could have used the time and tied the players down and then I say ‘by the way, I’m not here anymore’, and they say ‘hey, what? No one told us that’,” he added.
“You cannot work like that, especially not with the relationship we have. There is enough time to do everything.
“These players love to be here, I know that for a fact, don’t forget that. It is not that they have one foot out. They want to know a little bit of perspective but that will happen, especially behind the scenes.
“If the boys have to think about these things, that is a human right. Before you make a decision about whatever, that is completely normal. Don’t worry. It is all fine.”
While there may be uncertainty over the future, defender Ibrahima Konate gave an indication of the feeling within the dressing room about the present by telling the club’s website: “It was very important for us to show to the manager that we are with him for the rest of this season.
“In my mind I was like, ‘In the last four months, I have to give my life for him now’.”
Player contracts is just the first issue to arise since Klopp’s announcement and it shows the desire for there not to be any distractions is misguided.
Alexis Mac Allister has rejoined the squad after missing the weekend as a precaution, while even fellow midfielder Thiago Alcantara – out since April because of a hip injury – has returned to training.