Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his team is ready to “fight for everything” this season but is expecting a mighty battle in the Premier League title race.
While the likes of reigning champions Manchester City, second-placed Manchester United and Champions League winners Chelsea have all spent big over the summer, Liverpool's transfer movement has been relatively low key in comparison.
Only France Under-21 defender Ibrahima Konate has arrived on Merseyside from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig — and that was announced back in May.
But they have looked to secure current squad members on long-term deals. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker, full-back Trent Alexander Arnold and midfielder Fabinho have committed their futures to the club, while it was announced on Friday that key centre-half Virgil van Dijk had extended his contract up to 2025.
City finished with a 12-point advantage over second-placed Manchester United last season and 17 before Liverpool in third. Klopp knows he faces a battle to overhaul that distance.
“Last year, the gap was pretty big,” said Klopp, before their opening game of the season against newly-promoted Norwich City at Carrow Road.
“The previous season, the gap between us was pretty big [Liverpool finished as champions, 18 points clear of City]. “I'm not sure if it can get any more intense for all the rest.
“We will see. Chelsea aren't hiding their ambitions, Man United aren't, City aren't. We don't want to hide our ambitions, we want to fight for everything.
“I mention only these four, but it will not be only these four. Leicester made really good business again.
“Arsenal are trying, Tottenham are trying. There are so many teams. West Ham played their best season for a long, long time last year — they didn't get worse over the summer.
“It will be an interesting league again. Let's see how it starts, then we can talk about that, then let's make the next step.”
Klopp also said the spending power of City and Chelsea was no shock to him — United's summer expenditure was. Pep Guardiola's club have splashed out £100m on Jack Grealish, while the Londoners paid £97.5m for Romelu Lukaku — but it the £100-plus that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side paid for Jadon Sanchez and Raphael Varane that caught his eye.
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“February 2020 the pandemic started, nobody knew how long it would last, I was hoping of course that it would be over in a month,” the German said. “Now we know so much more about it and it's still a difficult time. It was for football clubs as well, for different reasons.
“I'm not surprised [that other teams have spent huge amounts of money], because these clubs don't depend on this kind of thing, I think. We all know the situations at Chelsea, City, PSG. What's happening at United, I don't know — I don't know how they do it.
“We have our way and it's always been the same since I joined. We can spend, we're allowed to spend the money we earn — that's what we always did.”
The way Liverpool finished last season, when a Champions League place appeared out of reach, is also a source of great hope for Klopp — and pride.
“The last few games we knew it was in our hands and we came through it,” he said.
“For us, the third place last year was not far off the other positions in the two years before to be honest and was really special with the problems we had.
“We found a way how to win football games and that's a really important message.
“It was obviously a sensational feeling and that will help us because it's another feeling we experienced together".