Liverpool captain Van Dijk was the first to comment.
“Virgil van Dijk believes that the news of Jürgen Klopp’s departure at the end of the season will only increase the determination of the squad to achieve their lofty goal of bringing home trophies,” Liverpool said on its website on Sunday (ET).
Klopp shocked the soccer world by announcing his departure from Liverpool at the end of the season. Klopp was appointed in October 2015 and had a contract until 2026. In his nine years at Liverpool, Klopp won every trophy in the book, including the Champions League in 2019 and the club’s first league title in 30 years in 2020.
Speaking about his reasons for quitting, Klopp told LFC TV: “I’m fine. I am as healthy as I [can be] at my age. I have a few niggles, but that’s okay because I don’t want to worry anyone. I already told the club in November. I have to explain to them that what I do looks from the outside like being on the touchline and taking part in training sessions, but most of my work revolves around these things.”
He continued, “It means that when one season starts, you’re already pretty much planning for the next one. When we sat down together and talked about the next summer camp and where we could go, I realized, ‘I don’t know if I can be here anymore’ and I was surprised, and I started to think about it, obviously. It didn’t start then, but of course, last season was a very difficult season, so at any other club there would have been a moment when I would have decided, ‘I’ve done a good job, but I’m going to part ways or finish here’,” he added.
“Of course, that didn’t happen here,” Klopp continued. For me, it was really, really, really important that I could help get this team back on track. When I realized early on that this is a really good team with a lot of potential, different age groups, different characters and so on, I started to think about myself again, and this is what happened. It’s not what I want to do, it’s what I think is 100% right, and that’s it.”
Explaining why he dropped the bombshell at a time when the Premier League and Europa League are in full swing, Klopp said: “In an ideal world, I would have liked to say nothing to anyone until the end of the season, win all the games and then say goodbye, but that’s not possible. In the world we live in, it’s impossible to keep something like this a secret, so it’s a wonder we’ve been able to do it this long. The staff needs to know quickly, and especially the club needs to know quickly and make plans. You can’t plan anything, you can’t actually start anything. If you know and you don’t disclose, you can do a lot of things, but you can’t do decisive things, a lot of things, which means the club needs time.”
Asked if he had a message for the fans, Klopp, who is a hero to countless Liverpool fans around the world, said: “I hope you accept this decision, and after I told you not to sing my song too early, after I told you to support me loudly in the stadium, after I told you one more thing I would like to ask you is not to make this game about me. All I have always wanted is full support for the team, not for me.”
He finally said: “I know about our relationship and I don’t need any kind of proof. Maybe on the day of the last match, or in another country, or in another competition, we can have some time together. We have enough time to do this. The outside world wants to take advantage of this decision, laugh at us and disturb us. We’re Liverpool and we’ve been through worse things together, and you’ve been through worse things than me, so let’s use that as strength. It’s going to be great. Let’s put everything into this season so that we can look back and smile. Finally, I just want to say thank you to everyone.”
Liverpool captain van Dijk became the first Liverpool player to speak about Klopp’s situation following the announcement of his resignation. Van Dijk told Liverpool: “It’s a tough decision to take because Klopp has meant so much to the team, to me, to the club and to the Premier League as a whole. But he has made a decision for himself and his family. We always expected it to be a tough decision, and it has been.”
Van Dijk described the moment when Klopp broke the news to the players: “Of course he told me personally, we were all together. As I said, it’s a difficult decision to take, but our mindset is to focus on the business.”
“We still have a lot of goals to achieve this year, so why not end the season in style with a celebration for the manager?” he concluded.
Liverpool will host Norwich at Anfield on Sunday for their FA Cup fourth round tie, and fans are expected to use the game to make their feelings about Klopp clear. Klopp’s final home game in charge will come on the final day of the 2023/24 season against Wolverhampton.