Liverpool kick off their Champions League campaign against AC Milan with only Ibrahima Konate having arrived at Anfield as a major signing during the summer – something Steve McManaman insists is no bad thing
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- 22:30, 14 Sep 2021
Champions League legend Steve McManaman insists Liverpool can sustain another charge in Europe this season – despite them refusing to join the “spend, spend, spend” culture.
Where Manchester United invested £127 million on Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in the summer, Manchester City forked out £100m for Jack Grealish and Chelsea repatriated Romelu Lukaku for £97.5m, Jurgen Klopp was caution personified in the market.
The Kop messiah's only major signing was £36m defender Ibrahima Konate from Leipzig – and McManaman believes Klopp's housekeeping is much nearer prudence than surrender.
He said: “If they get decimated by injuries again like last season, I don't think Liverpool have the squad depth to sustain a title challenge and a long run in the Champions League.
“But I don't get swept along by the notion that you need to spend hundreds of millions and buy players for the sake of flexing your muscles.
Ibrahima Konate was Liverpool's' only major summer signing
“So I don't agree that Jurgen Klopp needed to sign a top-class midfielder just because Gini Wijnaldum left – Liverpool have tons of midfielders and they just need to step up.
“There's a raft of players who should be good enough to deliver results, even in a heavy schedule.
“And people talk about buying another forward, but they have four already and only three can play, so it's hard enough to keep them all happy, let alone adding a fifth or sixth.
“It's not easy to leave out Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane or Diogo Jota as it is: Leaving two of them on the bench would be even harder.
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“So I'm not worried about Liverpool not splashing the cash this year – the squad is good enough to cope, both at home and in Europe – and there's a chance they could go big again next year.
“I know how much money the club lost – and how much other clubs lost – during the Covid shutdown, and I've got no qualms with them showing restraint in the market.
“When everyone is fit and well, that squad is still strong enough to compete at the very top.
“Fans love to demand that their clubs show ambition and spend, spend, spend – and then we turn round and say it's a disgrace to blow £150 million on players when there's a pandemic going on.”
The former Real Madrid star knows all about winning the Champions League
Two-time European Cup winner McManaman believes English clubs will dominate the Champions League again this season – and sees little scope for another of his former clubs, Real Madrid, to lift the trophy next May.
McManaman scored in the 2000 final against Valencia and played in a Galacticos team featuring Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo, but he expects a quiet campaign as Real continue their space-age rebuild at the Santiago Bernabeu.
He said: “I don't think any right-minded individual would put any of the Spanish teams down as favourites – Atletico Madrid are a stubborn side, and they have just got (Antoine) Griezmann back, but I'm not sure they are major contenders.
“If Real Madrid managed to sign Kylian Mbappe, which was mooted but never happened in the summer, that would give them a different mindset. But they have lost (Raphael) Varane and Sergio Ramos, so they are going to be tested at the back.
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“Carlo Ancelotti knew what he was letting himself in for when he left Everton and went back to Real.
“I don't know whether Everton told him there was no money left because Rafa Benitez has been wheeling and dealing – and doing a very good job so far – but you don't turn down Real Madrid.
“The refurbished Bernabeu will be fully open next year, there is money to sign Mbappe if they can get it over the line, so they are going to make a splash… but it probably won't be this year.
“I think the English teams will be dominant in the Champions League this season, but Spanish football is only taking a breather: The lull won't last long.”
*BT Sport is the exclusive home of UEFA Champions League football. Watch every game of the 2021-22 competition live on TV, online and on the BT Sport app. Visit btsport.com
Comment MORE ON Atlético MadridBT SportSteve McManamanRoberto FirminoSergio RamosChampions LeagueAC MilanLiverpool FC
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