LIVERPOOL, England (AP)Keen to project an image of security and stability for future transfer targets, Jurgen Klopp extended his contract as Liverpool manager until 2024 having re-established the team’s elite status in England and Europe.
Klopp said he had no intention of signing a new deal with the Premier League leader until the end of this season, only to change his mind after formulating potential transfer plans.
”With new players, when you want to bring them in they ask, ‘How long is the manager going to be here?”’ Klopp said on Friday, soon after Liverpool announced his 4 1/2-year extension.
”We all wanted to avoid that, so it’s done and I am really happy about that. I thought it was positive and good that people know I will be here a bit longer. It gives us stability.”
One of those impending recruits could be Japan international Takumi Minamino, whose move from Austrian club Salzburg is close to being wrapped up aside from his medical examination.
Klopp described Minamino, who has impressed in two Champions League group games against Liverpool this season, as a ”very good player” but would not be drawn on any more details. Except, that is, for telling a Japanese journalist at Friday’s news conference at Liverpool’s training ground: ”Maybe we will see you more often now.”
Klopp joined in October 2015 and has built one of the best English teams in a generation, winning the Champions League in June and following that up by establishing an eight-point lead in the Premier League.
The Reds lost only one game in finishing second to Manchester City in the Premier League last season. In the current league, Liverpool is unbeaten in the opening 16 games – winning 15 of them.
With City slipping 14 points behind in a disappointing title defense, only second-placed Leicester appears capable of stopping Liverpool from winning its first English championship since 1990 and 19th in total.
”When the call came in autumn 2015, I felt we were perfect for each other,” said Klopp, who previously coached Borussia Dortmund. ”If anything, now I feel I underestimated that.
”This club is in such a good place. I couldn’t contemplate leaving.”
Klopp’s assistants, Peter Krawietz and Pepijn Lijnders, have also agreed to new deals.
”It was not too bad till now, but we don’t feel that it could not be better, so let’s try to make the best time of our lives,” Klopp said. ”Enjoy the ride, enjoy the journey.”
If Klopp stays until the end of his contract, it would be the longest spell at a club in his managerial career. He was at German teams Mainz and Dortmund for seven years each.
Fenway Sports Group, the Boston-based ownership of Liverpool, said it was ”building from a position of strength” in ”one of the big moments of our stewardship” of the club.
”If Liverpool Football Club were looking to appoint the most outstanding, elite manager for our current status today, Jurgen would be the first choice – no question,” FSG said.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sport