Top-four finish would be a success for Liverpool, says Jürgen Klopp

Manager insists Virgil van Dijk is not overweight after Jamie Carragher comment

Jürgen Klopp believes a top-four finish would constitute a successful season for Liverpool, although the ultimate aim remains "to overtake all" their Premier League rivals.

The Champions League represents Liverpool's last hope of a trophy following defeat in the FA Cup by West Brom. Qualifying for Europe's elite club competition for a second consecutive year is also a target and Klopp's team, who are level on points with Chelsea, can move five clear of fifth-placed Tottenham with victory over Mauricio Pochettino's side on Saturday.

Klopp said: "When you start a season you can dream of something and you have to make a realistic target as well. I think being champion is probably the dream – not only at Liverpool but especially at Liverpool – but because of the season [Manchester] City is playing that is quite difficult.

“If you cannot be first then I would prefer to be second but if you are second, third or fourth at the end of the season all three positions are good and similarly difficult to reach.

“Everybody thinks Arsenal are away but they are not. If there is one matchday when one of us loses and Arsenal win then they are five points [behind] and off they go. Tottenham is in the group with all of us for the Champions League positions at the moment so for sure it [the top four] would be a success.”

Mark progress

Liverpool have finished 10 points behind Spurs in Klopp’s two campaigns. His team have lost only once in the league since a 4-1 defeat at Wembley in October but, while edging ahead of Tottenham would mark progress, the German retains loftier ambitions.

Klopp said: “Since I came here they have been ahead of us and maybe . . . this is the first moment we are ahead of Tottenham. But it is only two points. It is nothing.

“I think to fulfil our dreams at some point we have to overtake all of them. We cannot decide when or which team. We have to be ready for achieving the biggest thing.”

Having sold his Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for €161 million a month ago, a decision he reiterated was "sensible", the Liverpool manager might envy Tottenham's success in keeping the core of their squad intact.

"It is a big sign, to be honest," he said, although he believes it is only a question of time before a staggering bid arrives for Harry Kane. "The whole world is going nuts transfer-wise. And I think if someone has too much money or more than enough it would make sense to ask Harry Kane: 'Don't you want to play for our team?' He is obviously at an outstanding top level since I was in England, at least.

“The whole world buys players from everywhere but no one buys one player from Tottenham [in January]. Maybe they don’t want to go. With these players and the age group, the players are closer to 20 than 30, that is a very, very interesting project.”

Rubbished claims

Klopp, meanwhile, insists club-record signing Virgil van Dijk is not overweight and his fitness is not an issue.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher suggested on Thursday's Sky Sports The Debate programme that the world's most expensive defender "needs to lose a bit of weight".

However, even though Klopp admits he rested the €85 million January arrival from Southampton for Tuesday’s win at Huddersfield he rubbished claims the centre-back was overweight.

“Wow! I am sure Jamie needs a little bit of weight but for Virgil it is not the case,” he said. “He is a big and tall player, that is how it is. We have the best nutrition department and no one came to me and said we need to work with him.

“Being fit means all of that so you have at the end more muscle than anything else. It is not an issue, not at all.”

Van Dijk is set to return to the starting line-up for tomorrow’s visit of Tottenham which could play a significant part in the race for the top four.

– Guardian

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