Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool deserve top-four finish after ‘special’ season

• Manager highlights squad’s points haul and response to difficult situations
• Liverpool to spend heavily in summer with Virgil van Dijk among targets

Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool deserve Champions League qualification “100%” and the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, will support his long-term plans regardless of Sunday’s result against Middlesbrough.

Liverpool host Steve Agnew’s relegated side knowing victory will guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League, albeit at the play-off stage should Manchester City win at Watford. A draw at Anfield coupled with an Arsenal win at home to Everton would consign Liverpool to the Europa League, while there is also the prospect of a fourth-place play-off between Liverpool and Arsenal depending on particular results.

Klopp’s team have spent only two weeks outside the top four since September and, having remained above Arsenal and Manchester United in the absence of the injured Sadio Mané and Jordan Henderson, the captain, the manager insists a return to the European elite is fully merited.

“They deserve it 100%, 100%,” he stated. “This is a special season. It didn’t happen too often that you need 76 points to be sure of the Champions League and so they were always ready, ready to bounce back in different situations, ready to accept different situations around the squad. They were always focused. They really deserve it.”

The Liverpool manager has confirmed the club will spend heavily this summer even without Champions League income, with the Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk and the RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keïta among the targets. He insists the backing of Liverpool’s owners will not be affected should the team blow a top-four finish against Middlesbrough.

“I have their support 100%,” Klopp said. “They showed that in the moment they offered me a new contract [last summer]. There was absolutely no need for it but they thought this is now perfect for the development of the club and that’s what we are all thinking and all believing. Their thoughts are completely independent from Sunday’s result but of course we all think we would feel much better if we win.”


Andy Hunter

The GuardianTramp

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