Liverpool Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool have the squad capable of challenging for Europes top prizes for years as he ruled out any big-money signings this summer.
Liverpools £140 million investment on centre-back Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker in 2018 broke the world transfer record for players in their respective positions, but will not trigger a new era of similar spending.
Club owner Fenway Sports Group has focused as much effort rewarding star players, paying out an estimated £150 million on contract extensions over the past 12 months. Its policy priorities retention rather than reconstruction, with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane among those recognised for helping re-establish Liverpools European status.
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I dont want to talk exactly what we will do, but I dont think this is a team at the moment where we have to spend the big money or whatever, said Klopp.
Milner won the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup during his five-year stay at Manchester City. He offered a wry smile when he was asked where his runners-up medal from last seasons Champions League Final defeat by Real Madrid is.
The best way to do it is bring together a group of players, try to develop them all together and then stay together for a while. And that was maybe the main problem of Liverpool for the last decade. When they had a good team after a season they went all over the world. That will not happen this year, for sure.
This season they are looking to end 29 years without a league title and after dumping Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on Wednesday, they are also chasing a sixth European Cup.
Klopps comments underline that – so long as the biggest Anfield stars stay – summer transfer activity will be restricted to back-up players, especially as the competition for places in the current squad is increasing.
Juventus are estimated to have an 85% chance of knocking out Ajax and are the most likely to reach the last four. Barcelona have 78% chance of getting past Manchester United, and Manchester City have 71% chance of eliminating Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool – FC Porto is the tightest looking of the four quarter-finals with Liverpool the favourites (68%) to go through.
Liverpool will have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fit for the start of next season, expect Naby Keita to improve, and also believe Adam Lallanas influence on the side will grow as he seeks to put injury issues behind him.
Klopp anticipates further improvement in the performance levels of a team which is on course to shatter the clubs record Premier League points tally.
Porto have lost their last five two-legged knockout ties against English clubs and have not beaten English opposition in a knockout tie since Jose Mourinhos side eliminated Manchester United in the 2003-04 Champions League en route to lifting the trophy.
It is massive [potential for growth], said Klopp. I think the steps are really obvious but it is still about a natural confidence. We have to start looking at ourselves how other teams see us.
Manchester Uniteds draw sees a return to the Nou Camp for interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 20 years after he scored a dramatic injury-time winner at the stadium in their 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final.
When you think about how Bayern faced us here – I saw Bayern playing a lot in the last years but I never saw them being that defensive. When Manchester City came here, it was similar. Wow. They had a lot of respect for us but I am not sure we always have the same amount of respect for ourselves. For sure, it will come, step by step, that is why I was so happy for the game at Bayern. There was a little sign at least for that.
Loads of penalties go Liverpools way, they have been awarded at least three offside goals so far this season, they nicked a win against Paris Saint-Germain in the group when Cavani and Di Maria were substituted late on and they lost all three away games in the group this year as well.
The Liverpool manager says the mid-week victory in Munich showed the club can win in a more mature way.
Last year we were really like a whirlwind when we had the ball. Now it is not better, but different, said Klopp.
Liverpool comfortably defeated their next European opponents, Porto, in the knockout stage last season. Klopp said that would have no influence on their forthcoming meeting.
Theres a string of luck for Liverpool in Europe. Does everybody realise? 💭@talkSPORTDrive says #LFC have been lucky again after drawing Porto 🤞 pic.twitter.com/Csq0LTeRK2
But while respect for Klopps work is obvious on the continent, neutral English fans still appear to want Manchester City to win the title race.
We have so many different groups of supporters in England why should they think of us so positively? said Klopp.
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I think if you are part of Everton you vomit in the morning when you think, oh Liverpool they are great. Why should other people like us? That is football. So long as they dont hate us because that is a bit too much. That is all OK.
Harry Kane said he didnt expect anything but a tough tie after we were drawn against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Friday mornings draw pitted us against the reigning Premier League champions and current leaders in an intriguing last eight clash over two legs in April.
The last five CL games we lost is because we didnt defend like we wanted to but at Munich we did and from this basis you can win, its the experience from last year we get this and it has helped a lot.
The first leg will be played at home on Tuesday 9 April before we go to City for the return on Wednesday 17 April – just three days before our Premier League visit to the Etihad.
Its the first time weve been drawn against a fellow English club in Europe since we met Liverpool in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1972/73, where we went out on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.
Striker Harry, fresh from our training camp in Barcelona this week and now looking forward to Euro 2020 qualifiers with England against Czech Republic and Montenegro next week, is under no illusions about the challenge in front of us, but is optimistic ahead of the tie.
Theyre going to be two great games, he said. Manchester City are obviously one of the best teams in Europe at the moment so it will be a great test for us.
In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to expect to play tough teams though, so we will be ready for it.
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Asked whether he is confident of beating City over two legs, Harry said: Yes. We have to believe in our ability.
It will be tough but its a chance to get to a Champions League semi-final so we will give it everything.
Theyre big games for us, he said. Its going to be a tough test playing City in the Champions League as well as in the Premier League but its so exciting to be playing such a big tie at this stage of the competition. Were really looking forward to the challenge.