29 Dec Mourinho reminds Klopp of ‘quit’ comment after Van Dijk signing
Jose Mourinho has responded to Virgil van Dijk’s £75million move by reminding Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp of his threat to quit football if astronomical fees became commonplace.
The Reds have made the first significant move of the winter transfer window after agreeing a deal with Southampton to make Van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender.
He will arrive at Anfield 18 months after Klopp insisted he wanted to “do it differently” following Paul Pogba’s then-world record £92.35million switch to Manchester United, with the German suggesting he did not want to be involved in the game if such amounts became the norm rather than the exception.
Asked about Van Dijk’s move at his press conference on Friday, Mourinho said: “I think the one to speak about it in a specific way has to be Jurgen. If I was one of you I would ask him about his comments about one year ago (when Pogba signed).
“Not speaking specifically about (the Van Dijk) case because in Liverpool they do what they want, and I am nobody to comment about what they do, (but) the reality is if they think the player is the right player for them, and they really want the player, they pay this amount or they don’t have the player. That’s the way the market is.
“When we compare now the amount of money that certain managers and we try to compare that…not even with 10 years ago, (with) three years ago, it’s to compare the impossible.
“Now you are going to say Virgil van Dijk is the most expensive defender in the history of football. Was he better than (Paolo) Maldini, (Giuseppe) Bergomi or (Rio) Ferdinand? You cannot say that.
“It’s just the way the market is. You pay or you don’t pay. If you pay, you pay a crazy amount of money but if you don’t, you don’t have the player. It’s as simple as that.
“No criticism at all about what Liverpool did. It’s just the way it is.”
Mourinho’s last big-money buy, Romelu Lukaku, is currently coming under fire having scored just four times in his previous 19 games after netting 11 in his first 10.
The £75million striker, at fault for goals at the other end against Manchester City and Burnley, is yet to miss a single minute in the Premier League this season and Mourinho admits he is jaded but feels he cannot rest the Belgian.
“No, I can’t (rest him),” Mourinho said.
“I see 20 matches in the Premier League, 90 minutes, I think for a striker, any player, it’s absolutely incredible.
“Is he unlucky in our box in recent matches? (It was) not a direct influence on just him, but he was in the picture in some of the last goals we concede. Is it a consequence of a player that really needs a little rest? Or is this a consequence of just the occasion?
“The guy is fantastic for me and for the team and gives absolutely everything and I’ve no criticism.”
Mourinho paired Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic together against the Clarets on Boxing Day – an experiment he abandoned at half-time – and he feels that option is difficult given the pair’s circumstances, with the latter just back from a serious knee injury.
“I think for it to happen they need both to be in their best moment and they are not,” the United boss added.
“One (Lukaku) is not because the situation in his team didn’t allow him to have any rest and he’s giving absolutely everything in every minute.
“The boy is tired, is physically a monster but not a machine and he’s feeling it.
“And Zlatan is a man with an incredible injury, an injury that a 20-year-old man would suffer. Imagine a man, 36 years old, and so many miles in high-level football, so it’s not easy.”