In an ideal world, Jurgen Klopp would prefer to have his transfer business completed before the start of pre-season.
Twelve months ago, the new arrivals were all signed and sealed as early as June 20 when Calvin Ramsay joined Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvalho through the doors of the AXA Training Center in Kirkby.
A year earlier, Ibrahima Konate’s signature was captured at the end of May after his release clause was triggered at RB Leipzig, allowing him to join in time for the summer programme, which saw Liverpool spend a month away from Merseyside in two camps in Austria and France.
Klopp insisted at his final pre-match press conference of the Premier League season last month that he hoped he would be able to toast the completion of his transfer business within “six or seven weeks” of the final whistle on 28 May
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The Reds boss said: “The better players you want, the less the desire from the other club to let him go. And that’s exactly what we’re prepared for.
“But it’s a long window and a long pre-season and a long break in between so we have time if we get players in tomorrow or in six or seven weeks. It’s not a game-changer for me because to be honest.
“In an ideal world they all sign tomorrow and I can tell them when they have to be and we can start giving them the plans for the summer holidays, but that probably won’t happen.”
After completing a deal for Alexis MacAllister less than a fortnight after Liverpool’s season ended when the Argentina international moved from Brighton & Hove Albion for a fee believed to be around £35m, attention has now turned.
The Reds continue to assess the runners and riders on their midfield shortlist with a quartet of them set to be involved at the European Under-21 Championship, which gets underway in Romania and Georgia on Wednesday. Ryan Gravenberch of the Netherlands is a target, while there is strong interest in French international Khephren Thuram. His medles Bleus youngster Manu Kone is another to watch along with Spain’s Gabri Veiga.
And while the desire to bring in players earlier is driven by the need to introduce them to the style of play favored under Klopp, there are often unseen benefits to completing transfer deals earlier.
While the tactical adjustments, on-pitch instructions and intense demands will be absorbed more easily the earlier a player moves to Liverpool, the pre-season schedule is also the perfect opportunity to foster the bond that exists between the current crop of players.
Basically, the earlier a player signs, the sooner they are able to integrate into a particularly close-knit group of players, many of whom have been stars at Anfield for the past five years.
In the summer of 2018, Naby Keita signed up, for example. to speak some English after his £52m move. from RB Leipzig at the start of the summer, but a bonding session at the club’s Evian base was crucial for him to get to know his new colleagues.
The Guinea international, who joined Werder Bremen as a free agent earlier this month, teamed up with Daniel Sturridge during a karaoke night as the pair performed a duet of Mario’s 2004 hit ‘Let Me Love You’.
“Like a lot of the boys, he’s a good laugh, but he’s also given me a lot of advice on the build-up process and also in terms of motivation,” Keita later said of his budding friendship with Sturridge. “He’s a very positive and motivating player, so this month has been very good and I’ve spent a lot of time with him. He’s a great guy.”
Keita added: “Obviously there were a lot of new players there and we had this rite of passage where everyone had to stand up and sing and I did my part. I really enjoyed it – I was quite nervous but I enjoyed it!”
The performance was part of the usual induction ceremony for new arrivals, and while Xherdan Shaqiri’s rendition of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds may have left something to be desired, Alisson Becker is said to have been the standout performer of the night as he treated his new team-mates to a acoustic set with his guitar.
Last year it was unknown suitor Yinka Ademuyiwa who stole the show at Liverpool’s Austria base when he went viral for his rendition of Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’, while fishing trips were also organized for the club’s South American contingent, which helped the likes of Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez to continue to adapt at the club in what was their first pre-season with the Reds.
The same is expected next month when Liverpool fly to Germany to set up base in the Black Forest ahead of friendlies with Greuther Furth and Karlsruhe.
July 8 will mark the first day of pre-season training at the AXA Centre, where, in an ideal scenario, new signings will report before joining the club on the flight to Klopp’s homeland.
“I think we all put it up to embarrassment that someone goes up there and has to go through hell with the microphone in hand and you have to sing a song you can’t sing,” Klopp said later. “You can’t do something, you don’t know the song, all that kind of stuff. But the atmosphere was great, with all the fun we had [it was] still respectful. I had a big meeting last night and I told the boys [that] I have never seen anything like that. It’s the truth.”
Such activities are often seen as a simple way to relax after the double training sessions and provide some stimulation for players and staff outside of their work demands, but they are also an important part of creating the kind of spirit that can sustain a team across the often long and grueling campaigns.
“That’s the foundation we need,” says Klopp. “We as a group, the way we really interact with each other is something special, and we need to make sure we can use that for something big.”