LONDON (Reuters) - Liverpool had little time to celebrate the return of Champions League football to Anfield before the squad departed for Australia on Monday to play in a post-season friendly linked to the club’s 125th anniversary.
Juergen Klopp’s side, who finished fourth after beating Middlesbrough 3-0 in their final Premier League game on Sunday, will line up against the recently crowned A-League champions Sydney FC at the ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.
The game will mark an anniversary which falls on June 3, with Liverpool’s party mood further improved by the news that they will be among five seeded teams for the Champions League playoff round, avoiding potentially tricky ties against Sevilla, Napoli, Ajax and Dynamo Kiev.
The five-times European champions last played in the competition in 2014 but fell meekly in the group stage with manager Brendan Rodgers even playing a weakened team against Real Madrid as the club prioritised the Premier League.
Much more is expected this time round and, before flying to Australia, Klopp outlined his transfer strategy for the summer, which will be key to improving their Champions League record of just three wins in 14 games since the 2008-09 quarter-finals.
“We have already pretty much done (the work on transfers). We have to see,” the German told reporters.
“(It’s not like) tomorrow with (sporting director) Michael Edwards we will sit together and speak about what we think we need. Now we have to make decisions. Negotiations need to be done. All that stuff.”
Liverpool are expected to be one of England’s heaviest spenders in the off-season, strengthening a squad that at times appeared close to threadbare during the run-in.
While the prospect of Champions League football should improve the quality of player Liverpool can attract, they will face close regional competition for signings from Manchester City and potentially United, if Jose Mourinho’s side qualify by beating Ajax in Wednesday’s Europa League final.
Liverpool have been linked with Southampton centre half Virgil van Dijk, Fulham full back Ryan Sessegnon and RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, while they will also be in the market for a striker, possibly as a replacement for Daniel Sturridge.
“We are prepared, we will see what works out or not,” Klopp added.
“Yes, I have a little of work to do. But I’ve worked properly in my life when I was younger, so a few phone calls aren’t really work when you’re talking about wonderful things like football, Liverpool and other things.”
Liverpool will also be keen to retain key midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who has attracted interest from Barcelona.
After Sunday’s win, the Brazilian hinted that he will stay in England next season, telling ESPN Brazil: “I have a long contract with LFC. Speculation is for journalists only.”
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by John O'Brien