Jurgen Klopp has opened up on a tough Saudi Arabian intervention that saw him lose two of his best players.
The Liverpool boss appears to have been caught short in midfield this season after the departures of captain Jordan Henderson to Al Ettifaq and Fabinho to Al Ittihad.
Fabinho and Henderson were integral parts of Liverpool’s many trophy winsGetty Images – Getty
Now they’ve both chosen Saudi riches
Recouping a reported £52million for their services, the Reds are now scrambling for replacements in defensive midfield, having missed out on Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia to Chelsea.
Despite Henderson and Fabinho being integral to Liverpool’s Premier League and Champions League wins under Klopp, both players struggled during the 2022/23 campaign.
That led many to suggest that their departures may have been welcome with Liverpool able to reinvest, but Klopp has now revealed that wasn’t the case, as there was no way he could stop the duo leaving.
“It was a special situation for us,” he told Sport1. “Bobby’s [Firmino] contract has expired.
“Of course he can go and do whatever he wants. He just made his choice and that’s perfectly fine.
“When Hendo and Fabinho then sat in my office and talked to me about it, I knew when I found out more about the conditions that we have practically no chance of taking action against it.”
Henderson is reportedly earning £700,000-per-week under Steven Gerrard at Al Ettifaq, making him the highest paid English footballer of all time.
Klopp is clearly staggered by the wages on offer, and added: “The financial conditions in this league are absolutely exceptional.
Klopp’s midfield looked worryingly porous in their opening match with ChelseaGetty
“I would say there are almost no limits. Anyone who can sign Cristiano Ronaldo and pay him for it definitely has no limits anymore.”
“I don’t know to what extent and how long they want to go through with it and how big they will be.
“Ultimately, Saudi Arabia, like Qatar back previously, is already interested in developing their own football and their own players.
“Then they too have to limit their league in some way so that the clubs can’t just fill their team with foreigners. That will be interesting to watch.
“To what extent the financial commitment of Saudi Arabia will change world football, I can’t see that yet, but things will definitely change.”
Klopp was then asked to comment on the tricky topic of human rights in Saudi, where, according to Human Rights Watch, torture is used in detention centres, and a record 81 executions were carried out on March 12 this year.
Speaking on the subject, he said: “As far as the human rights situation is concerned, it’s super difficult to comment and not burn your mouth, no matter which direction.
“Basically, I think that with all the different perceptions we have, we definitely don’t understand the culture in all its details.
“As long as we only look at it from the outside, nothing will happen. If there is one positive aspect of the whole story, it’s that Saudi Arabia will be much more in the public eye.
“We will learn a lot more about the league and the players’ experience and will experience what life is like there. I think it’s also a step in the right direction. You can’t just sit here and say, ‘This is bad, this is bad and this is bad.’ From a distance, we don’t have the opportunity to change anything.
“As more and more players go there and more and more is reported, we will understand more what is important and it will change more for the better. I’m actually convinced of that.”