Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is convinced that Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool can fight to win the Premier League title in the 2016/17 season.
The Reds face off against Chelsea in the International Championship Cup in California during the early twilight hours of Thursday morning, just before 5am for us in the UK, as part of their pre-season preparations.
Conte, former Italy and Juventus manager, took over from interim coach Guus Hiddink after the Azzurri head out of the UEFA Euro 2016 by the hand of Germany.
After a dissapoiting season, by Chelsea’s standards, the 46-year-old Italian manager will be expected to return Chelsea back to their former title-challenging self but he believes that Klopp’s men will prove to be an outstanding rival.
“Liverpool are one of the best teams in the league and I’m sure can fight to win the title,” he said.
“Jurgen Klopp has already worked with this team for nine months, and it’s very important for him and Liverpool to understand each other.
“It’s important to work and have the time to transfer your methods and ideas of football.”
Klopp’s first season in charge saw Liverpool finish eighth in the Premier League, just two places above Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea who endured a torrid domestic campaign.
The charismatic German was able to inspire Liverpool to two finals; the Europa League and the League Cup and Conte feels, after a summer with the new look Liverpool squad, Jurgen will continue to succeed.
“It’s very difficult to go in during the season when a manager was sacked. It’s not easy,” he continued. “You must transfer your ideas in a bit of time and it’s difficult.
“But last season was very important for Klopp and the players. The players know Klopp and he knows the players. It’s important to transfer your idea of football and to have the identity of the player.”
Klopp has added seven players to his squad so far: young German goalkeeper Loris Karius, the experienced Alex Manninger, promising freebie Joel Matip, veteran defender Ragnar Klavan, ‘Serbian Gerrard’ Marko Grujic, the speedy Sadio Mane and former PSV captain Georginio Wijnaldum.
It also looks like the German might add a couple more players too, with Liverpool reportedly interested in signing another left back and noticeable gaps in the midfield.
As we’ve seen before, Klopp will probably play down any suggestion that Liverpool could lift any silverware this season – let alone the Premier League title but Conte continued to stress Liverpool will be “one of seven or eight teams that can fight at the end to win the title.”
“Liverpool have a good team, good manager, good football, high intensity, good organisation,” he explained.
Faithful Liverpool supporters will get their first chance to see Klopp’s new Liverpool squad in full-swing against Chelsea at the Rose Bowl on Thursday, with the German wanting nothing but “100%” from his men.