Jurgen Klopp: No chance of U-turn on Liverpool exit despite Edwards' return

German coach says decision to hire former sporting director has no bearing on his future

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reiterated his intention to leave the club at the end of the season. PA
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists the return of Michael Edwards as Fenway Sports Group’s chief executive of football will have no influence on his decision to leave the club at the end of the season.

The German, who says he no longer has the energy to lead the team, is set to depart Anfield in the summer, signalling the end of an era for the Merseyside club.

Owners FSG stepped up their succession planning this week by re-hiring former sporting director Edwards, the man who originally brought Klopp to the Premier League in 2015.

Edwards helped shape the most successful period in Liverpool's recent history, building the squad that won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League the following year, signing players such as Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Sadio Mane.

He left the club in 2022 but has been persuaded to return in a more senior role, with final say on all footballing matters.

Klopp, however, who was talking ahead of the Reds' Europa League last-16 second leg tie against Sparta Prague on Thursday night, revealed he had already to spoken to Edwards to reiterate his intention to leave.

“We had that conversation [about staying],” said Klopp. “Michael and I always had a really good relationship. Very good on a professional basis anyway. Really good.

“A lot of good things happened in the time when we were here together. Mike decided to do something else. Now he is back I'm really happy.

“I said a few times I want to see the club in the best possible place after I left. Everything I can do while I am here I will do. After other people will have to do it. It's a top solution. Our conversation was great.

“We spoke about a lot of things that I think about. Because I was in all the time while he was not in. What might have to change, these type of things. It's top news for the club.”

Asked if Edwards had tried to persuade him to stay, Klopp added: “No, because, and that's important in the job, he's not dumb. That's not a subject to talk about to be honest. Can you imagine I change my mind? Of course not. I cannot say what I said, about not having another club in England then sign for next year for our neighbours or whatever. It's crazy.

“I don't say these things without thinking before. It's not like I am now realising how great this club is. I know it's the best club in the world and I leave it anyway. I just want the club to do as good as somehow possible. I am really sure there is a good basis with the right people in charge. He is top choice.”

With his side leading 5-1 from the first leg, Klopp hinted at changes for the return against the Czech side at Anfield.

“The idea of the line-up will be to have the best legs for that game, because that's what we need,” he said. “We have to ignore the result [from the first leg]. We need to keep the rhythm and keep going.”

Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham go into Thursday's fixtures both needing positive results to reach the quarter-finals after failing to win their first-leg ties.

A late Patrik Schick equaliser spared Leverkusen's blushes in Baku, and also maintained their unbeaten record this season, after Qarabag surprisingly held the Bundesliga leaders to a 2-2 draw.

“Maybe it's true that the result is more fortunate for us than for Qarabag. Great respect, they perhaps deserved a better result,” said Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso after the first leg.

German side Freiburg take a 1-0 lead to West Ham but will still need to defy the Hammers' impressive home record in Europe to progress.

Europa Conference League holders West Ham have won all 10 of their last 10 European games at the London Stadium, going back over the last two seasons.

“We'll do everything to try to turn it around. We'll have our crowd and atmosphere behind us,” said Hammers manager David Moyes.

Rangers host Benfica with the tie all to play for following an entertaining 2-2 draw in Lisbon, while Brighton look all but out after a 4-0 thrashing by Roma last week.

Sporting Lisbon will visit Italians Atalanta all square after holding the visitors to a 1-1 first-leg draw, despite Atalanta hitting the post three times.

Italian giants AC Milan go to Slavia Prague with a two-goal buffer, after winning 4-2 at the San Siro, and Marseille make the trip to Villarreal sitting four goals to the good following a dominant first-leg display.

Updated: March 13, 2024, 4:29 PM