Jurgen Klopp has explained Liverpool’s record £111m bid for Moises Caicedo last summer by saying it was a consequence of missing out on Jude Bellingham and came as prices for defensive midfielders skyrocketed.
The Ecuadorian will face Liverpool on Wednesday for the first time since rejecting a transfer from Brighton to Liverpool in August and instead joining Chelsea for £115m, the biggest fee ever paid by a British club, with Klopp believing he already had an “emotional agreement” with Mauricio Pochettino.
Klopp moved to clarify his comments last month when he said Liverpool “got lucky” by missing out on Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, who also joined Chelsea, by saying that he was reflecting how pleased he was with the midfielders he did sign – in Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch – and not criticising those he did not.
“It was this night, I come in the stadium, the kids are playing and crowd is cheering - I forgot for 10 or 15 minutes I am a public person. So I thought: ‘Oh no, that will create a lot of headlines’,” he said.
Bellingham was a long-term target but Liverpool accepted he was going to join Real Madrid and looked at Caicedo when Jordan Henderson and Fabinho moved to the Saudi Pro-League.
Meanwhile, with Declan Rice joining Arsenal for £105m, Chelsea having spent £107m on Enzo Fernandez in January and Brighton demanding a similar sum for Caicedo, there was inflation in the cost of midfielders and Liverpool made a bid that would have smashed their transfer record.
“We were interested in Bellingham and realised it would not happen,” Klopp added.
“The whole market for No 6s went up. Two No 6s left our club. The market heated up. We thought we could maybe do Caicedo. We’d already done Mac Allister before. So we went in, he had an emotional agreement already with Chelsea and Pochettino. Then Lavia had his own reasons. So we were there.
“Then we found our top solution. That’s what I meant [when I said], ‘we are lucky’. We found Wataru. All the time in our mind we had Stefan [Bajcetic]. It was not clear at that moment he was so badly injured he could not feature at all. We already knew Macca could play the position. Dom was always on my radar.
“If one of the £100m [targets] had worked, there’s no chance to do another. So that door was open. That’s how it went. That’s what I meant when I said we are so lucky. Everything in the ‘if not’ scenario worked out.”