Jürgen Klopp smashed the world record fee for a defender this month with confirmation of the £75m deal to bring Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk to Anfield.
This represents the third time during Klopp's reign that the Reds have broken their own transfer record - following deals for Mohamed Salah and Naby Keïta during the summer - however, Klopp's transfer activity on Merseyside is a far cry from the reputation he gained during his time with Borussia Dortmund.
Klopp was largely praised for his ‘shrewd’ approach to transfer dealings at Dortmund; ignoring the lure of established stars in favour of placing faith upon lesser known – and cheaper – alternatives.
The likes of Neven Subotić, Shinji Kagawa, Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and īlkay Gündoğan were all recruited to make up the core of Klopp’s 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga title winning sides at a combined fee of less than £15m.
However, a hamstring injury during his debut season and limited game time since has stalled Grujić’s development. The Serbian has made just 13 appearances in all competitions for the Reds; mostly off the substitute’s bench.
While Klopp’s attempts at unearthing a lesser known talent have proved less successful on Merseyside than in Germany, the same cannot be said for his more high-profile arrivals.
Take Liverpool’s biggest transfers from the previous two summer windows, Sadio Mané from Southampton and Mohamed Salah from Roma, as prime examples.
In his inaugural season at Anfield, Mané scored 13 goals and was named Liverpool’s Player of the Season at the club’s annual award ceremony in May; while Salah has scored an astonishing 23 goals in his first 29 club appearances so far this season.
Between them, Mané and Salah make up half of the so-called ‘fab four’ attacking quartet earning lavish praise this season alongside Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
Ciro Immobile was another big money addition. Bought in to replace the outgoing Lewandowski, Immobile lasted just one season at the club, managing a mere three league goals in a Dortmund side who finished in a disappointing 7th place.
Lazio is Immobile's level, We saw at a bigger team, BVB, Sevilla and Italy his level. And there is a reason Juve sold him.— Carlo Garganese (@carlogarganese) November 10, 2017
Liverpool fans can therefore welcome Van Dijk to the club in the confidence that Klopp has found greater success with his higher profile recruits at Anfield. The ultra-competitive and highly scrutinised nature of England’s top flight has meant Klopp can ill-afford to throw the likes of Grujić and Karius into Liverpool’s first team on a regular basis in the same way he was able to do with Lewandowski and Hummels, for example.
Perhaps this says more about the nature of the Premier League than of the quality of Klopp’s lesser known signings as, while they may go onto become star names at the club in due course, their immediate impact is non-comparable to that of Klopp's Dortmund arrivals.
Add into the equation the greater sums of money involved in the English game and the financial backing Klopp receives from owners' Fenway Sports Group, as exemplified by the Van Dijk deal, and it is easy to understand how Klopp has transitioned from shrewd operator in the transfer market to big spender during his time with the Reds.