Later News May 24

I’m happy for the Champions League that they don’t have to play without Liverpool: Klopp

On what proved to be an ultimately anti-climatic final day of the season last evening (SGT), Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City once again let slip their opportunity to qualify for next season’s Champions League, as Chelsea and Liverpool both finished the Premier League campaign in the top-four.


Rodgers, who has made snatching defeat from the jaws of victory something of a specialty, saw his Leicester side go down 4-2 to Tottenham Hotspur, who maybe now can finally win a trophy next season when they play in the Audi Cup equivalent of European football, the Europa Conference League.


The result meant that the Foxes, who just a few matchweeks ago were favourites to finish in the top-four, slipped into fifth. Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea sneaked into fourth despite their best efforts to avoid it – the Blues put up a substandard performance against Aston Villa and lost 2-1, but even that was not enough to out-underperform Rodgers’ Leciester.


But the real story of the season was Liverpool’s amazing fight back in the final weeks of the campaign to finish third in the table. Or at least, that’s what Reds manager Jurgen Klopp would want you to believe.


WATCH: Klopp hails Champions League qualification as massive achievement


The German tactician hailed Liverpool’s qualification for next season’s Champions League as “big” and “absolutely great”. More importantly, however, Klopp said he was pleased for the Champions League competition itself, as it now does not need to endure a year without Liverpool.


“I’m really happy for the Champions League that they don’t have to play without us!” a beaming Klopp said. “We are in it, that will be great, (and we) can’t wait for that.


“If someone would have told me weeks ago – five, six, eight, 10 weeks ago – that we can finish the season in third, that was absolutely out of reach and felt impossible.


“For the whole team, fighting through this and finishing third is the best lesson you can learn for life. I couldn’t be [happier] that I was around when that happened again. From nowhere to the Champions League in five weeks is a massive achievement as I see it.”


Klopp also confirmed that midfield lynchpin Gini Wijnaldum would be leaving the club, and even offered himself as a job reference for the Dutchman.


WATCH: A look at Gini Wijnaldum's impact at Liverpool


He said: “Yes (he will leave). It is very emotional for me because I lose a friend and I will miss him…but it’s normal in football that these kinds of things happen – it’s not always nice, but normal, and I am really sure he will find a great place. Each club who is interested in him should call me and ask about him. Then you will take him, definitely, because I could not be more positive about what he did here.”


Meanwhile, Tuchel thanked Spurs for doing what Chelsea could not do themselves – bump Leicester out of the top-four.


And although Tuchel should really be thanking Rodgers for that, he was still appreciative of Spurs for not Spurs-ing things up on the final day of the season.


WATCH: Tuchel relieved Spurs helped Chelsea finish the job


“We are lucky that Tottenham did the job for us and finished the job for us today. We came to win and to put any doubts to the side but it was not possible,” said Tuchel, whose side will face English champions Manchester City in the Champions League final next weekend in Porto.


“But we did the main target, there is nothing to worry about now, nothing to regret. It was a very difficult objective to meet, we did it, so huge congratulations on the effort and performances and focus.


“We are still a young team, and still have a lot of players fighting for the first trophy, fighting for the first time in big matches. We need to learn and improve…and we will arrive now in Porto with full confidence.”




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