Liverpool agreed a record transfer fee with Brighton for Moises Caicedo, but face a battle to acquire the services of the Ecuadorian amid fierce competition from bitter rivals Chelsea.
Klopp confirmed on Friday morning a deal has been reached which could prompt Liverpool to pay around £110million for the midfielder, but Chelsea are reportedly ready to reinforce their longstanding interest with a similar bid of their own for the 21-year-old.
Chelsea’s third and most recent offer for Caicedo was £80m, substantially below Brighton’s valuation of a player who they signed for £4m from Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle in February 2021, but now appear ready to make another attempt for the player who is understood to prefer a switch to Stamford Bridge.
The situation becomes even more unpleasant with continued wrangling over Southampton’s Romeo Lavia, another highly-rated midfielder who has attracted the attention of Klopp and his Blues counterpart Mauricio Pochettino. Liverpool have made a series of bids but have yet to meet the Saints’ asking price, creating a stand-off that appears to have brought Chelsea to the table.
Chelsea are reported to be ready to shell out more than £50m for Lavia, with suggestions that they are willing to bring both him and Caicedo to the club in a dramatic overhaul of their engine room. Whether Liverpool can reclaim pole position in that deal if they miss out on Caicedo remains to be seen.
Klopp wants to reinforce his options in the middle of the park with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho going to the Saudi Pro League last month while Naby Keita and James Milner also recently left the club. Fresh speculation over Thiago Alcantara and another possible Saudi move will also have been noted.
They signed Caicedo’s ex-Brighton team-mate Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai from RB Leipzig but missed out on Jude Bellingham, who joined Real Madrid in June in a deal that could rise to £115m.
“I can confirm the deal with (Brighton) is agreed, whatever that means because we want the player and not any kind of agreement, we will see,” Klopp said.
“We are a club that doesn’t have endless resources, we didn’t expect a couple of things happening in the summer, like Henderson and Fabinho (leaving), stuff like this.
“We didn’t think about that before the summer, to be honest, and then it happened. We gave (attempting to sign Bellingham) a go and the club was really stretched. We will see (what happens with Caicedo).”
As for whether Caicedo will undergo a medical in Merseyside on Friday or if signing the youngster would be Liverpool’s final business of the summer window, Klopp was tight-lipped.
“I’ve said what I know,” he added. “Let’s do it step by step, let’s see what happens in the next hours or days.”
The Caicedo fee is upwards of the previous British record of £107m that Chelsea paid for Enzo Fernandez in January and dwarfs Liverpool’s own highest transfer payment of £75m for Virgil van Dijk in 2018.
Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi said on Friday: “I would like to answer only one time (on Caicedo). I’ve already forgotten Moises. Moises is leaving and is not important for me now.”
Pochettino was coy when asked about Caicedo but the tug-of-war between the Blues and Liverpool is an intriguing subplot ahead of their showdown on the opening weekend of the Premier League season on Sunday in west London.
“I never talk about players that don’t belong to us,” the Argentinian said. “I am so respectful.
“What I can tell you is we are working really hard to try to add more players to the squad, to add quality. When we have some update to be made for you, the club will do.
“It’s obvious, when you look at the squad compared with last season, too many midfielders leave the squad. We have different options, we are working hard to try, to see.”
Klopp, whose side missed out on Champions League qualification after finishing fifth last season, was reminded of his critical comments on paying nine-figure sums for players six years ago.
After Manchester United signed Paul Pogba for a then-world record £89m, Klopp said: “If you bring one player in for £100m and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney. The day that this is football, I’m not in a job anymore, because the game is about playing together.”
However, Klopp accepted he was mistaken for questioning the wisdom of such fees on Friday and admitted prices for players will only increase with Saudi Arabia muscling in as a rival to Europe’s top leagues.
“Everything changed,” Klopp said. “Do I like it? But did I realise I was wrong? Definitely. That’s the way it goes, it will not go the other way around again, Saudi Arabia will not help with that.
“I’m not blaming anybody, it’s just the market with a lot of money.
“In the end, we as a club have just to try to make sure that with our resources, we get the best possible team together. We really try everything to get the best squad for us.