Jurgen Klopp is convinced securing Champions League football next season will give Liverpool an edge in the transfer market this summer.
Victory over already-relegated Middlesbrough, live on Sky Sports on Sunday, will guarantee a top-four finish for Liverpool in Klopp’s 100th game as the club’s manager.
The German admits securing a return to Europe’s premier club competition after a three-year absence is fundamentally important for the Reds, but says he will not sign players whose sole motivation is playing in the Champions League.
“I said before Champions League is a wonderful competition. Fans love it, players love it, managers love it,” Klopp said.
“Of course you can earn a lot of money there. Money we didn’t have last year. That’s very interesting, it’s one part of it, but we are a club without financial problems, we are in a good position.
Liverpool vs M’boro
May 21, 2017, 3:00pm
“We have money to spend but we always thought it made sense to think before we spend. We are working hard not only on the pitch.
“On the table situation over the last 10 years, from the outside Liverpool always looked like a massive club. I can only speak from this German view, about other clubs – Chelsea has the money, Manchester City is coming up, Man United is Man United – all that stuff. This view changed.
“We are a really interesting project. Everybody can see from outside the mood is different, the few people are different. The base is still there, still the size and power of this club, and then there’s the players’ perspective – and that’s really changed. We feel this but they have to see it before they make a decision.
“We made a decision – because that’s always how it is in these talks – you commit 100 per cent and then a player says ‘sounds good, but…’. Plan C you have to sign when Plan A and B is not there, but the players are really positive this year in comparison to last year.
“They saw our way and saw the football. Champions League would be the icing on the cake [but] if Champions League is the only reason for a player to come it makes no sense for him or for us.”
A win will also see Liverpool finish on 76 points – 16 more than last season when they finished eighth – and Klopp says his side’s improvement this term is evident.
“It’s an important game because it has been a very successful season so far, and we want to continue,” Klopp added.
“We have to perform to win, if we have enough points after this game to go to the Champions League we deserve it, if not, we don’t.
“The best thing would be if we are 4-0 up after two minutes but that won’t be possible. Football games develop – and that always depends on the start. The start is important but if it is not good it does not mean we will stop.
“We will fight, that’s clear, but Middlesbrough are a football playing side. They have good players. They are good counter-attacking, quick wingers, very experienced striker.
“Have we improved? Of course, but we don’t have to talk now about improvement. Now is the time to talk about getting these three points. We have 73 points and the chance to get 76 points in a difficult season with a lot of competitors.”
Roberto Firmino missed last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing of West Ham after picking up a muscle injury but Klopp is cautiously optimistic of the Brazilian’s chances of featuring on Sunday.
He said: “There is no decision [on Firmino’s availabilty] until now but he’s good. He’s not been part of team training yet but we will make a final decision tomorrow.”