London (AFP) – Liverpool’s failure to qualify for the Champions League will make it harder for manager Jurgen Klopp to attract leading players to the club, according to former Anfield favourite Steve McManaman.
Liverpool could have secured a return to Europe’s top competition by beating Sevilla in Wednesday’s Europa League final in Basel, but despite going ahead through Daniel Sturridge, Klopp’s side lost 3-1.
Having finished eighth in the Premier League and lost to Manchester City on penalties in the League Cup final, it means they will not be involved in European competition next season.
McManaman believes that could deter potential signings, telling BT Sport: “It will be harder to attract the real star players to Liverpool.
“Yes, Liverpool have got an amazing history, they’ve been in two finals, and that will help. The manager will certainly help.
“His aura will drag players to the team, but the very, very best want to play at the very highest level and that is in the Champions League.”
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, however, echoed Klopp by saying that the lack of continental distractions could bolster the club’s efforts to return to the upper reaches of the Premier League.
Liverpool’s last sustained title challenge, in 2013-14, came during a season when they were not involved in European competition and Owen believes the extra time on the training ground could prove beneficial again.
“It’s all looking forward now and I think they’ve got the right man in place to do the job,” he said.
“As he (Klopp) says, time on the training pitch — that’s a positive — time to get more belief in the squad and maybe add one or two new faces to it.
“But start looking forward. It’s going to be disappointing for a few weeks, maybe even longer, but at some point you’ve got to put it behind you and start looking to the future.
“Once pre-season starts there will be a new wave of optimism and as I said the last really good season in the Premier League that Liverpool had was when they weren’t in any European competition, so maybe use that as an advantage on your competitors.”