Klopp king of kop till 2024

LONDON • Liverpool yesterday issued a “statement of intent”, as Jurgen Klopp put it, after tying down the German until 2024, which will make him the English club’s longest-serving manager since the legendary Bob Paisley (1974-1983).

Owner Fenway Sports Group has been trying to extend his deal since the end of last season, when the Reds won a sixth European Cup.

Klopp, 52, has spent seven years at each of his previous clubs – Mainz and Borussia Dortmund – and was set for a similar stay at Anfield with his previous contract due to expire in 2022.

But he has now agreed to the longest spell of his managerial career with the Premier League leaders. He will remain assisted by Peter Krawietz and Pepijn Lijnders, who have also agreed deals until 2024.

If Klopp completes the two-year extension, he will become the joint-fourth longest-serving boss in the club’s history. At his pre-match press conference ahead of today’s league clash with bottom side Watford, he spoke of his delight that the owners had entrusted his coaching team to carry on “the journey”.

He said: “Four-and-a-half years sounds like forever. It could be nine years, the longest spell (I’ve) ever (had) at a club.

“For the next 31/2 years now nobody has to talk about it. Let’s try to make the best time of our lives and enjoy the ride… The support we had has been incredible. It’s what we want to use. It’s our home and we want to stay here.”

In a further statement on the club website, he claimed that he “could not contemplate leaving as this club is in such a good place”.

He added: “When the call came in 2015, I felt we were perfect for each other; if anything, now I feel I underestimated that.

“It is only with a total belief that the collaboration remains totally complementary that I am able to make this commitment to 2024. If I didn’t, I would not be re-signing.”

The Reds boast an eight-point lead in the league as they pursue their first top-flight title in 30 years. After Watford, they will travel to Qatar with the aim of landing the club’s first Club World Cup.

The European champions have also made substantial progress off the pitch too, with plans unveiled recently to construct a new stand that would increase Anfield’s capacity to more than 61,000, while a new £50 million (£90 million) training complex is due for completion next summer.

New faces are also set to follow through the door, with Klopp all but confirming the imminent signing of Japan winger Takumi Minamino from Red Bull Salzburg for £7.25 million when the transfer window opens on Jan 1.

Calling him “a very good player”, he said: ” We talk when it is sorted.”

But while the Reds should have few problems handling the visiting Hornets, Klopp said they had only two fit senior centre-backs, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez set to play against the bottom side.

Dejan Lovren will miss the game with a muscle injury and there is no timeframe on when he will return, while Joel Matip is nursing a knee injury.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

LIVERPOOL V WATFORD

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