'Progress is something everybody should expect' - Klopp looks at Liverpool present and future

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2018-19
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The German manager is looking for his club to take steps forward both in the short and long term

Jurgen Klopp says he is focused on ensuring that Liverpool make progress both in the short-term title chase and the club's long-term future.

Liverpool currently lead reigning champions Manchester City by four points as the club look to push on for their first league crown of the Premier League era.

That charge has been led by the likes of Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk, who also helped the team to the Champions League final last season.

Joining them have been a number of key summer signings, including Alisson, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, who have made their mark in the league at varying points of the past few months.

Knowing that, Klopp is looking to see his Liverpool side continue to take steps forward, both now and in the coming years.

“I am interested in progress but I don’t judge it constantly. I don’t think about the games two or three weeks ago. Progress is something everybody should expect," Klopp said ahead of Liverpool's match against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"The club gave us a fantastic opportunity to bring in outstanding players, to keep outstanding players. My job is to make sure we perform on the pitch.

“Where will we be in two or three years? I have no idea. But the age group is good. This season will not finish our development. It doesn’t look like we’ll lose any key player, it looks like the players are here with all they have, enjoying it with the other boys, in the stadium, training ground, we build a new training ground, another step in the future.

“The progress we made so far, I am not interested in, I am only interested in the progress we still have to make, there’s a lot to do and everybody can see that.”

Part of that progress is keeping hold of what Liverpool already have, with Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Sadio Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino all having signed long-term deals in recent months.

The newest member of that group is Andy Robertson, who signed a new five-year deal on Thursday that allows Liverpool to keep hold of one of the league's top full-backs.

Klopp added: “I am very happy, it’s really cool. The very special story of Robbo I still love, and his improvement and development is just outstanding, nobody could have expected that.

“It’s brilliant, and nice to have this boy around. Fantastic player, even better person, and I improved my Scottish a little bit with him. It helps me in conversations with Kenny Dalglish, but Kenny’s is still different! What language Kenny speaks!

“In general it’s always a good sign to have the opportunity to extend contracts early. If we can keep these boys together, we are in the middle of our development, so it’s good news for Liverpool. These 17-18 players plus the really young boys, that’s the squad of the future. It should be like this. It’s investment, the club gave us the opportunity to do it. Really nice.”

There's also the matter of keeping hold of the club's young stars, a proposition that has become increasingly difficult for top Premier League clubs in recent years.

Manchester City have already lost out on Brahim Diaz while Callum Hudson-Odoi remains in negotiations with Chelsea over a new contract, with Bayern Munich lurking.

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Klopp, meanwhile, is confident of keeping hold of the club's youngsters, including 17-year-old defender Ki-Jana Hoever, who has rapidly risen through the ranks to the precipice of the first team.

“He can sign professional now. If you turn 17, life should be really cool, yeah? Are you allowed to drive a car in England at 17? Wow! With a parent next to you? With a big L on the car? I meet a lot of them," Klopp joked.

“There are big steps to make for all of these boys. Ki-Jana will be fine, he is really happy in the moment, we showed him where he will be in the future, now he has to make all the steps alone, but supported by us. Contracts are no concern in this moment; there were plenty of reasons for him to join us. The boys are here, and now we work with them.”