Jurgen Klopp has cited the club’s failure to sign Jude Bellingham last summer as a reason for the surprise attempts to land Moises Caicedo for a British record fee.
The Reds stalled in their efforts to bring Romeo Lavia to Anfield back in August, before having an audacious £111 million offer accepted by Brighton for Caicedo.
It came somewhat from left field and caught supporters off guard, with some even questioning whether it was used as a ploy to force Chelsea into eventually spending more money on the Ecuadorian.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side later captured their man for £115 million, but the Liverpool manager has now clarified the attempted hijacking of the deal.
“We were interested in Bellingham and realised it would not happen,” Klopp explained, as quoted by the Independent.
“The whole market for No. 6s went up. Two No. 6s left our club. The market heated up. We thought we could maybe do Caicedo. We’d already done Mac Allister before.
“So we went in, he had an emotional agreement already with Chelsea and Pochettino. Then Lavia had his own reasons. So we were there.
“Then we found our top solution. That’s what I meant [when I said], ‘we are lucky’. We found Wataru. All the time in our mind we had Stefan [Bajcetic].
“It was not clear at that moment he was so badly injured he could not feature at all. We already knew Macca could play the position. Dom was always on my radar.
“If one of the £100 million [targets] had worked, there’s no chance to do another. So that door was open. That’s how it went. That’s what I meant when I said we are so lucky. Everything in the ‘if not’ scenario worked out.”
Liverpool admitted “defeat” in the race to sign Bellingham back in April, with the 20-year-old now playing a starring role for Real Madrid in La Liga.
The Englishman has notched a remarkable 18 goals and eight assists in 26 appearances from midfield for the Spanish giants in all competitions so far in 2023/24.
Klopp joked during a test event for the new Anfield Road End last month that the club were “lucky” to avoid their two defensive midfield targets that eventually wound up at Stamford Bridge.
Caicedo has also struggled to live up to his extortionate price tag, but has become a mainstay in the Blues’ midfield and will be keen to prove a point against the side he nearly joined back in the summer.
The two teams will face off at Anfield on Wednesday night, with a win the minimum requirement for Liverpool as they look to keep hold of the cards at the top of the table.