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Jurgen Klopp confident Liverpool will be ready for Champions League challenge


Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool have regained their rightful place in the Champions League

Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool have regained their rightful place in the Champions League

Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool have regained their rightful place in the Champions League

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is confident the club is ready for a return to the Champions League with much of his planning already done for next season and the finances in place for a summer spend.

The 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on the final day of the season secured fourth place and a return to Europe's elite club competition for only the second time in eight seasons.

While Klopp's first-choice XI is arguably able to compete with some of the continent's top sides, this season - with a run to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup and injuries to key players - has shown the squad needs significant improvement.

Right-footed midfielder James Milner has spent the entire campaign at left-back, while such were the limited resources available Klopp had to name three defenders and a defensive midfielder among his substitutes for the must-win game against the Teessiders.

Klopp hardly spent big last summer with the majority of his outlay going on Sadio Mane (£30million) and Georginio Wijnaldum (£25m).

But having banked £148m in prize money and television payments this season - and with a minimum of £40million expected from the Champions League providing they get through a play-off in August - there will be significant funds available.

"Money-wise? We have enough money. That's a difference, of course. We don't hide more money then get it when we need it, it's a normal business," said Klopp, who has Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk and RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita among his targets.

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"We are already pretty much done (on recruitment). Do you think I will sit with (sporting director) Michael Edwards and say 'What do you think? What do we need?' - most of the work is already done.

"Now we have decisions that need to be done, negotiations or whatever. But it's all good and we are prepared and we will see what will work out and what won't.

"There is no training in the next few weeks. We fly to Australia (on Monday evening), we have a game, then fly back and the holiday starts for all of us.

"I have a little bit of work to do but it's a few phone calls and a little bit of talking about wonderful things like football, Liverpool and other things, so it's good."

Despite making the final few weeks of the season a struggle by dropping points at home to the likes of Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton, Liverpool's tally of 76 points is more than worthy of Champions League qualification, considering they spent 221 days in the top four this season - bettered only by Manchester City (252) and Chelsea (244).

Facing Europe's elite teams may actually prove to be more straightforward than combating the spoiling tactics of sides in the lower half of the Premier League who came to Anfield with a game plan to frustrate.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet believes they will be able to cope with the demands of competing at home and abroad.

"Liverpool have always had a history of fighting at the top of the league and also in Europe, and we have that now so next season can be really exciting for us," he said.

"We've learned a lot and come a long way since the manager arrived. We've shown how we can compete with the top four.

"The last few weeks we learned how to see games out against teams who sit back and play on the counter or try to score from a set-piece, so we can put that altogether next season.

"We have got loads of quality in the side to create chances and score goals and everyone in the dressing room is hungry for success.

"Every year there are loads of teams, especially in the Premier League, fighting for the same objective.

"We have to look at ourselves and we will be hungry for the same things next year."

Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho have been left out of the squad flying to Australia for their post-season friendly with Sydney FC on Wednesday.

The pair have been rested because of their forthcoming commitments with Germany at the Confederations Cup in Russia and Brazil in Melbourne respectively.

Midfielder Marko Gruijic, who has been limited to just eight appearances this season because of injury, will also not travel as he is involved with Serbia in June's Under-21 Championship in Poland.

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