Man Utd and Chelsea embarrassed as most important Liverpool move post-Jürgen Klopp proven again

Ian Maatsen of Borussia Dortmund (C) celebrates with his teammates Marcel Sabitzer and Jadon Sancho after scoring the 2-0 lead during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid at Signal Iduna Park on April 16, 2024 in Dortmund, Germany.

Borussia Dortmund has become the neutrals' favorite in the Champions League. The only remaining potential winner that would restore your faith in football, Jürgen Klopp's old side is defying some average league form and some massive financial disparities to advance ever closer to the final.

No doubt the outgoing Liverpool boss will be cheering his old side on, amid talk he could be lined up for a return as 'head of football' in 2025. But he will have been joined by plenty of others in supporting the Bundesliga outfit against Qatar-backed PSG.

Part of the CBS coverage in America, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher watched the match from the famous Yellow Wall. He inadvertently lost the broadcaster an interview with PSG boss Luis Enrique, who came over and saw the former defender donning a Borussia Dortmund scarf.

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But many of a Liverpool persuasion will have been similarly excited by the semi-final first leg, which saw Dortmund take a one-goal lead ahead of the return encounter in Paris. But Manchester United and Chelsea may have had decidedly more mixed feelings.

Generally, when a player out on loan excels, it's a vindication of smart business. That's less true when that player is the club's fourth-most expensive player of all time and is back at his former club, as is the case with Jadon Sancho at Manchester United.

When he moved to Old Trafford for $91m (£73m/€85m), few would have anticipated Sancho would ever return to Borussia Dortmund, never mind being back there on loan within three years. Having seen a training dispute with Erik ten Hag spiral out of all control, he was cut adrift from the squad, before his former club threw him a lifeline.

How he has seized it. Sancho took a bit of time to find his rhythm again, but with a point to prove and the world's eyes on him, he stole the show against PSG.

Of course, this is technically good news for Manchester United. Ten Hag might not last beyond the end of the season, in which case a new manager could get to work with a transformed talent. Alternatively, at least Sancho's transfer value has certainly been swelled again, albeit not to the amount the club originally paid.

But the fact Sancho is spurring his side towards Champions League glory while his parent club tries to cling on to a Europa League qualification spot is frankly embarrassing. It's a bad look for Manchester United, and reeks of mismanagement every step of the way.

Then we come to another star of Borussia Dortmund's journey, Ian Maatsen. He's on the books at Chelsea. It's a slightly different situation. Maatsen has been on a series of loans since joining from the PSV set-up in 2018, and the decision to loan him to Borussia Dortmund in January was nowhere near as toxic as Sancho's switch.

But it's still hard to see how Chelsea concluded that Maatsen was surplus to requirements in the current squad. While he has starred in the Champions League, his parent club has struggled badly, missing the exact kind of energy and directness that he brings. Left-back has been something of a problem position.

One thing Manchester United and Chelsea have in common is that they both tried and failed to tempt Michael Edwards back into football over the last year or two. The former Liverpool sporting director took some time away after leaving Anfield, but his industry-leading reputation led to approaches.

Chelsea pitched Edwards a 'CEO of football' role, but to no avail (Sky Sports). Meanwhile, the Telegraph claims Manchester United was also snubbed. Instead, it was Liverpool who got him back.

Technically, Edwards now works for FSG, but he will be shaping the club's big-picture transfer strategy. That's a huge signing for the Reds ahead of a period of rebuilding, with Klopp on his way out. Beyond the German, it is doubly important: not only does Liverpool have that expertise, but its rivals clearly in need of it, as proven by events this week — do not.

Particularly damning for Chelsea is that FSG has given Edwards almost the exact same title that was on offer at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool simply presented the more appealing package: its determination to get its man back will ensure it maintains a clear edge for months and hopefully years to come, with the Blues and Manchester United forced to play catch-up in a big way when it comes to backroom structure.