Manchester United fans could be forgiven if they felt Jurgen Klopp was getting worried about how strong Jose Mourinho’s side might be this season.
Without making a direct reference to United’s decision to smash the world transfer record on Paul Pogba, the Liverpool boss said it was wrong that clubs are spending £100 million on one player.
And now the German coach has told reporters that he didn’t want Henrikh Mkhitaryan this summer, despite the fact it was he who signed the Armenia international for Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
Klopp hinted that he decided against signing Mkhitaryan because he knows everything about the player - what he’s not particularly good at, as well as his qualities.
But the Reds’ boss also said he likes to help players develop, and felt this wouldn’t necessarily be possible with Mkhitaryan.
Klopp explains why he didn't want Mkhitaryan
"I had that player. If you have had players, you know more about them. You want to learn about other players. That's how it is," Klopp told the Liverpool Echo, per Goal.
"I knew quite early that he was going this way [to United]. There was absolutely no reason for me to jump in there. That isn't how we work.
"We didn't look for players we had already worked with. If you do that, you know their good, their bad and you wonder whether you will do it again.
"It's not boring but you know everything about each other so how can you develop? Where is the next step? Where is the next push for development?
"We could have gone for a lot of players. But, first of all, you have to think, 'what do I need?'"
Klopp spent £59m on Mane and Wijnaldum
Rather than Mkhitaryan, who described signing for United as a “dream come true”, Klopp instead secured deal for two other attacking midfielders: Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum for a combined £59 million.
Mkhitaryan has impressed in pre-season
Mkhitaryan cost less than both of Liverpool’s summer signings - at £26.3 million - and has caught the eye in pre-season.
The 27-year-old was the best player on the pitch during the first half against Wigan Athletic earlier this month and scored his first goal for the Red Devils in a 4-1 defeat against Dortmund six days later.
Mkhitaryan has admitted he doesn’t expect to play every match for United, although Jose Mourinho will find it impossible to leave out the talented playmaker if he continues to impress.
Which attacking midfielder will perform best this season: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sadio Mane or Georginio Wijnaldum? Have your say by leaving a comment below.