Jose Mourinho has reminded Jurgen Klopp of the comments he made about Paul Pogba 17 months ago after Liverpool broke the world transfer record for a defender to sign Virgil van Dijk.
The German hit out at Mourinho back in the summer of 2016 for having the audacity to improve his side and show ambition by signing Paul Pogba for £89m – a world record back then.
“If you bring one player in for £100m and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney,” he said in July 2016. “The day that this is football, I’m not in a job anymore, because the game is about playing together.”
“Building the group is necessary to be successful. Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players. I want to do it differently.”
But following a prolonged series of woeful defensive performances, Klopp has thrown £75m at the problem by signing the Southampton defender.
And Mourinho, when asked about the transfer, couldn’t help but bring up the snide comments made by Klopp, the ‘purist’ who can do no wrong, back in 2016.
“You know, I think the one that speaks about it in a specific way has to be Jurgen and if I was one of you I would ask him about his comments about one year ago,” Mourinho said. “But not speaking specifically about that case because in Liverpool they do what they want to do and I am nobody to comment on what they do.
“The reality is that if they think that the player is the right player for them and they really want the player they pay his amount or they don’t have the player because that is the way the market is at that time.
“So when we compare now the amount of money certain managers and clubs spend and try to compare that, I am not saying with 10 years ago but three years ago, is to compare the impossible. You cannot compare the realities.
“Virgil van Dijk is the most expensive defender in history of football, was he better than [Paolo] Maldini, [Giuseppe] Bergomi or [Rio] Ferdinand? You cannot say that, it’s just the way the market is and you pay or you don’t pay.
“If you pay obviously you pay a crazy amount of money but if you don’t you don’t have the player. Is as simple as that, so no critics at all about what Liverpool did, is just the way it is.”
Klopp does not deserve blame for spending £75m on Van Dijk. If anything, he would have hell to pay if he didn’t improve his manifestly substandard back four in January.
What he does deserve blame for, however, is believing that he could improve Liverpool in a different kind of way – without playing the game all big sides play.
At the very top you have to compete in the market to buy the very best, and if you don’t then failure will ultimately be waiting just around the corner – as Klopp is quickly discovering.