When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015 he set a strict target for his players to work towards.
‘When I sit here in four years’ time, I think we want at least one title’, Klopp said. He achieved that goal with impeccable timing in 2019 when the Reds lifted the Champions League trophy in Madrid.
A year later and Klopp has now gone one better, finally ending the club’s 30-year wait for a league title after a dominant campaign that has seen them blow away every opponent.
But now the craving for a Premier League title has been satisfied, Klopp has to ensure they do not go so long without another one again. This is his chance to build a dynasty on Merseyside and the steps are in place to ensure long-term success.
Here, Sportsmail identifies some key components of Klopp’s blueprint to dominate English football for years to come.
Klopp is going nowhere
Liverpool fans let out a huge sigh of relief when their manager put pen to paper on a fresh contract in December.
The German had two-and-a-half years left on his previous terms and there was speculation that he could leave the club when it expired, the German national job a possibility.
But Klopp, who has completely transformed the club since replacing Brendan Rodgers in October 2015, is now in place until 2024 and he will become the longest serving Liverpool manager since Bob Paisley if he stays until then.
It had always been the intention of owners Fenway Sports Group to reward the German for the superb work he has done at the club since taking over.
Liverpool know their manager will be at the helm of the club until 2024 after signing a new deal
Klopp was all smiles at Melwood after agreeing to extend his stay until 2024 in December
Such was their desire to tie Klopp down that it was first made clear to him in the build up to the club’s Champions League triumph in June that he could have whatever kind of contract he wanted.
During the summer Klopp was in no hurry to make a decision and then, after his team made such a stunning start to the season, he committed.
Keeping their manager on board will not only pay dividends on the pitch. There is no doubt his players love playing for him and he is the club’s best possible advert for prospective new signings.
Continuity is key if you are to keep on being successful in football and Klopp’s renewal at the back end of last year ensures Liverpool have that.
Key players all tied down
Title-winning squads of the past all have something in common: a spine that is in place for years. Manchester United had Van Der Sar, Ferdinand, Carrick and Rooney while Chelsea were built around Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba.
Manchester City’s foundations have been based on Ederson, Kompany, Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Aguero under Pep Guardiola. Liverpool have that now in Alisson, Van Dijk, Henderson and the front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane.
What’s more impressive for Liverpool is that almost all of their players are tied down to long-term contracts with their best years ahead of them.
Aside from Georginio Wijnaldum, whose current deal is set to run out next summer, all of Klopp’s vital players are in place for at least the next two seasons.
The likes of Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah are all contracted for the next three seasons
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson could be at the club for years
James Milner’s contract runs out and the end of 2021-22 and then it’s not until the summer of 2023 that Salah, Mane, Van Dijk, Firmino, Fabinho, Naby Keita, Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are up for renewal.
That obviously does not guarantee they will stay, both Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho left the club while under contract in recent years, but it puts Liverpool in a strong negotiating position.
There is also no threat of players becoming distracted in the final year or months of their deals as they jostle to find a new club like Arsenal are facing with star striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, who is due to leave next summer.
Indeed if you look beyond the summer of 2023 then Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Joe Gomez and Alisson are all signed up to 2024. The future looks very bright indeed.
Liverpool’s success over the past 18 months has meant their squad has been stretched to its limits this season.
When Klopp and the first-team took off for Qatar to compete in the Club World Cup last year, an under-18 squad were thrust into the limelight to play a League Cup tie at Aston Villa.
Although they were heavily beaten that night at Villa Park, three youngsters have come to the fore this season and look likely to have futures in the first team.
Curtis Jones is one of those. When given the chance to play a Merseyside derby at Anfield in the FA Cup third round, he delivered with a sensational winner.
The 19-year-old curled the ball beautifully into the top of the far corner, leaving Jordan Pickford with no chance as the Reds defeated their closest rivals to progress.
(Left to Right) – Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams have all shown plenty of promise
Jones burst onto the scene in January with a wondergoal against Everton in the FA Cup
Neco Williams has also blossomed when he has been given the chance at right back and made an impressive cameo in front of an empty Anfield against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
His progress could be halted by Alexander-Arnold’s age and ability but Williams has shown he is up for the fight if the England international’s form wavers.
And then there is Harvey Elliott, maybe the brightest young prospect at the club. He became the youngest-ever player to play in the Premier League, at 16 years and 30 days, with Fulham before signing for the Reds last summer.
A winger, he has looked extremely comfortable in the first-team set up despite being so young. There is a huge future for him at the club and it will be interesting to see what sort of role he is given next season if Xherdan Shaqiri moves on.
New £50m training ground
Liverpool’s academy is currently housed away from their Melwood training ground but Klopp wants the two to be aligned so there is a clear pathway for the youngsters hoping to make the grade.
That is why the club gave the green light to a £50million new training ground which is currently being constructed. The work had been delayed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic but is now up and running again.
It had been the club’s intention to move the first team squad to the site in Kirkby in July but those plans were put on hold by the delay.
While the contractors are gradually increasing the number of staff on the site and have implemented safe systems of work, there is no set date for completion and Liverpool have not put a deadline on when they want work completed.
The club sanctioned a £50m new training facility to bring the first-team and academy together
The project will provide the first team and development squads with world-class facilities
Two gyms, a full-size sports hall, hydrotherapy complex and rehab suites will be constructed
Upon completion the new 9,200sqm training complex will provide an elite performance centre for the first team and a state-of-the-art training area for the development squads.
The facilities will also boast an array of new pitches, two gyms, a full-size sports hall, swimming pool, hydrotherapy complex and specialist sports rehabilitation suites.
Dedicated TV studios, press conference facilities and office accommodation will also be created.
The joining together of the first-team and academy will occur for the first time in the history of the club, and will see Liverpool boast one of the newest and most advanced bases in the country. It can only be a good thing for the club’s development.
When Liverpool seemingly missed an open goal by deciding not to continue their pursuit of Timo Werner it showed how far the club has come that it was not willing to harm their own finances in order to complete a transfer.
The coronavirus pandemic may force the Reds to consider their transfer targets more carefully this summer because they will not risk harming the club.
The Reds have become the model of financial stability under owners FSG and their smart business in the transfer market in recent seasons means Klopp’s net spend at Anfield is around £75m.
Sporting director Michael Edwards has also been critical to the club’s success in both buying and selling players in the transfer market.
While Manchester City bought right back Joao Cancelo for £60m last summer, Klopp spent nothing and stuck with the squad that had delivered European success and backed them to follow it up with domestic honours.
FSG chiefs John W. Henry (C) and Michael Gordon (L) have been crucial to the club’s success
Sporting Director Michael Edwards (left), Klopp and Gordon enjoy a great working relationship
But to stand still is to move backwards. Liverpool will need investment this summer, particularly if Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri and Dejan Lovren all leave as reports suggest.
The coffers have also been boosted by Liverpool’s new £70m-a-year kit deal with Nike, which will come into place on August 1, while recent success has brought huge prize money into the club.
It was announced in February that Liverpool made a pre-tax profit of £42m last year despite a record £223m investment on players which shows how well the off-field machine is working at present.
Long gone are the horrendous days under George Gillett and Tom Hicks. FSG are real owners and steering the club in the right direction.
FOUR TEAMS WHO COULD TOPPLE THE REDS NEXT SEASON
MANCHESTER CITY: Watching their return to Premier League action since the restart tells you all you need to know about City’s chance of regaining the title they have lost this season.
It is crazy Liverpool are so far ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side and testament to the campaign the Reds have enjoyed. City will lose David Silva this summer but still boast a world-class squad of unrivalled depth. Even if the Covid-19 crisis halts their summer spending it will not affect them too much.
City’s chances could also be boosted if the Court of Arbitration for Sport holds up their ban from European competition. Not having the rigours of a Champions League campaign can only be good for their domestic chances.
CHELSEA: Frank Lampard has not even finished his first season as Chelsea boss but has he almost completed building a squad capable of winning the title in his second?
Already through the door as Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech and RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, a player Liverpool wanted but decided they could not afford given the current climate.
There are still issues for Lampard to address with centre back being a position he needs to strengthen but with such a strong and balanced attack, could he lead the Blues back to the summit of English football?
MANCHESTER UNITED: Manchester United’s first-choice team is not a million miles away from Liverpool and City. A settle defence, the Pogba-Fernandes axis in midfield and a pacey front three are all positive signs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still lacking in some areas (a striker who can score 30 goals a season, a world-class partner for Harry Maguire and a defensive midfielder) but if he can address those issues in the summer then they could mount a challenge.
United are thought to be one of the very few clubs who could afford Jadon Sancho this summer. If they can get him through the door then that would propel them into genuine contenders.
TOTTENHAM: Spurs would be an outside bet to land the Premier League title but Jose Mourinho has got a very capable squad with numerous attacking threats.
Harry Kane is guaranteed goals and the supporting cast around him have shown they can compete at the top end of the Premier League. Mourinho needs defensive reinforcements though, their record this season is abysmal, and it doesn’t look like he’ll have those funds this summer.
Their manager has plenty of questions to answer about himself as well but, in his first full season in charge of Spurs, it would be foolish to completely write Spurs out of the running.