LIVERPOOL — Jurgen Klopp has said securing Champions League football for a second straight season is the “next step” in Liverpool’s development.
A 4-0 victory over Brighton at Anfield on the final day of the Premier League season ensured that Liverpool are in next season’s tournament regardless of the result in the final against Real Madrid.
Mohamed Salah scored his 32nd goal of the league campaign — his 44th in all competitions — to break the record for the most goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
Dejan Lovren made it 2-0 before Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson netted their first goals for the club.
Speaking at his postmatch news conference, Klopp said: “Perfect final [day] of the season, of a very exciting season, a very intense season.
“We showed again the kind of football we couldn’t show in the last few games because the boys are humans not machines.
“We had a lot of injury problems and the group of players which was involved today have to do the job all the time.
“Flying through Europe, playing there, coming then to playing Everton, playing West Brom, playing Stoke, playing Chelsea – — it’s really hard.
“I am so pleased and so happy for the boys that they showed up today again after one week of training, [at] not the highest intensity of course, just the things we thought make sense, and then having a game like this is really nice.
“So a fantastic achievement from the boys, a really, really nice performance over the whole season.
“Last year everybody said we went to the Champions League because we didn’t have Champions League or European football. We had to prove that it was possible playing in the Champions League and qualifying for the Champions League.
“It’s, for us, the next step and I am really, really happy and really proud of the boys.”
The Egypt international also secured the Premier League Golden Boot, beating Tottenham’s Harry Kane by two goals.
“Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic,” Klopp said of the 25-year-old. “We all can imagine how it would be if everybody tells you every day how brilliant you are.
“So it’s really difficult to stay focused, and he is focused.
“He is young enough and has enough potential to improve — that’s really good news for all of us. There is still work to do, and I’m really happy about that.
“But what he is, in his mind he is a real goal-getter and that’s cool. Obviously it’s difficult to score that many goals otherwise other people would have done it already.”
Klopp said he was now “really looking forward” to the Champions League final, adding: “It was always a bit: ‘Come on, don’t let’s talk about it, we have to play this game and this game first.’ Now, we will be ready.
“This gives us a big boost — imagine we would’ve been in the final and the only chance to go in the Champions League [next season] is to win the final.
“That’s then maybe not the best option to choose, but it’s really cool now. It will be exciting.”
Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.