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Liverpool's greatest market year? How stubborn Klopp has Reds set for glory

COMMENT: Fekir to Liverpool? C'mon. It's going to happen now. On today's evidence. On the way the club is running. Jurgen Klopp is going to get that final 'Plan A' signing.

It'll be no surprise if word comes down from Anfield in the coming days that Nabil Fekir has completed his move from Olympique Lyon. Yeah, it may've taken a good six weeks longer than Klopp had expected. But who cares? After all, he was willing to wait a year for Naby Keita.

Determination. Patience. And sheer bloody mindedness. It's taken all those qualities - and more - in the manager. But he now has the team he wants. With the signings he long identified. No compromises. No alternatives. Just working from that 'A' list. No 'B or 'C'. Klopp doesn't do that. And that stubbornness. That belief in those around him to get these deals done. It's all been rewarded. Going into the new season, Liverpool have the look of genuine title winners.

Alisson Becker is a step up from what they've relied upon since Klopp's arrival. Keita offers far more than the now forgotten Emre Can ever could. Fabinho adds the defensive edge - and versatility - to release the attack without the concern of being caught short at the back. And amongst that attack will now be Xherdan Shaqiri. Still 26. With Bayern Munich and Inter Milan on his CV. A matchwinner. And all for barely 12 million quid. Erm, just how much have Everton coughed up for Richarlison...?

And then there'll be Fekir. Klopp will be pushing for this one to be closed right to deadline day. They spoke in January. Then again before the World Cup. And despite the antics on both sides of the table, there's no bitterness from Fekir's end. He pulled on a Reds shirt. He was assigned a number. He even did the TV interview. And having seen it all dragged away from him, Klopp's charm has still done the trick. Fekir has made it clear he'll only leave OL for Anfield. And you fancy his minders have been assured Klopp will wait.

Like Fekir, he did the same with Virgil van Dijk. That was also a long running drama. Plenty of flak was fired Liverpool's way. At Klopp. At Michael Edwards, the club's sports chief. But the deal was still closed. It took an extra six months. And there was plenty of ex-players and managers happy to pull apart Klopp's single-minded approach to transfers. But he won out in the end. Just as he'd later do with Alisson.

Over these last 12 months we've seen a manager build a title challenging team with a surgeon's precision. Players were identified and signed. Problem positions acknowledged and eliminated. In terms of the transfer market, has there been a better 12 months in Liverpool's modern history? Indeed, has a Reds manager been more successful in assembling a team as Klopp has this past year?

Kenny Dalglish, then player-manager, did something similar some 30-odd years ago. But he was building from a much stronger position. In the space of six months, John Aldridge, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and Ray Houghton were all signed by King Kenny. Having surrendered the First Division title to Everton the previous season, Liverpool won it back thanks to Dalglish's outlay- which included an English record £1.9m to convince Peter Beardsley to do to Manchester United what they had done to him four years previously.

With Dalglish's playing principles and the talent he'd brought to the club, that was one helluva team. No-one could get near them.

This time around, of course, there's Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. But as he proved last season, Klopp can set up Liverpool to beat them. Unlike anyother manager in the country. Unlike anyother team. Liverpool have an edge on City - and that was before this summer's signing spree.

“He has done a really good job and revived Liverpool's enthusiasm," so said Sir Alex Ferguson 18 months ago, when discussing the Klopp effect. “I'm worried about him because the one thing United don't want is Liverpool to get above us."

18 months ago? It would've been 18 months ago that Klopp was putting together his Plan A. 18 months to build a title winning team. Fergie was right. United - indeed the rest of Europe - should be worried.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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