Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool cannot blow their transfer budget on glamorous “Ferrari” signings, with the Reds apparently priced out of the race for Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham.
Liverpool had been strongly linked with a close-season move for the England midfielder but are now believed to have switched their attention elsewhere.
With Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea also reportedly interested in the 19-year-old, competition for his signature is likely to be fierce, driving up his price.
Klopp’s preference is to spend Liverpool’s funds on several players to improve an ageing squad that has badly underperformed this season.
In a pointed message to fans, the German made it clear the club have to look at the bigger picture rather than chasing a marquee signing.
“It is not about Jude Bellingham, my answer now, but I never understood why we talk about things we theoretically cannot have,” Klopp told reporters on Friday.
“We cannot have six players in a summer, everyone for £100 million ($125 million). Everyone would say that is clear.”
He added: “You have to realise what you can do and then work with it. That is your job. We are not children.
“When you ask a five-year-old what they want for Christmas and they tell you, ‘I don’t know, a Ferrari’, you wouldn’t say ‘that’s a good idea’ — you would say ‘that is too expensive and anyway you cannot drive it’.
“If this kid then was really unhappy because he didn’t get a Ferrari, it would be a really sad life.”
Klopp publicly praised Bellingham in December, describing him as “exceptional” after he impressed at the World Cup in Qatar.
The teenage midfielder, who previously played in England for second-tier side Birmingham, is close to international team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson, raising hopes among Liverpool supporters that one of Europe’s hottest prospects could be coming to Anfield.
Henderson, speaking after England’s win against Ukraine in March, said it would be “amazing” if a player with Bellingham’s “frightening” talent were signed by Liverpool.
Yet Liverpool have taken the pragmatic decision to focus on a group of signings, with Chelsea midfielders Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher reportedly now among their top targets.
“You look what you can do, and you work with that. That is always how I worked,” Klopp said.
“What we need and what we want, we try everything to try to get but there are moments where we have to accept and step aside and do different things.”
Eighth-placed Liverpool, who face Leeds on Monday, are 12 points adrift of the top four and could miss out on European football altogether next season unless they improve quickly.
The inconsistent Reds have routed Manchester United 7-0 and thumped Bournemouth 9-0, but also suffered embarrassing defeats at Brighton, Brentford and Wolves, while enduring a Champions League last-16 hammering by Real Madrid.
“It’s a super strange season. I think we all agree it hasn’t been our best season but we’ve also had two of our biggest wins in our history. We haven’t been consistent and that’s been the problem,” Klopp said.
The Liverpool boss will welcome back Luis Diaz for the trip to Elland Road, with the Colombia forward available for the first time since suffering a knee injury in October.