The start of 2023 has been difficult for Liverpool. Possibly one of the worst starts to a year in club history. And with the rest of the Premier League continuing to edge out Jürgen Klopp’s side, things are getting bogged down when it comes to achieving the club’s goals.
The Champions League is the ultimate competition. This is a universally accepted statement. Ask any player what they’d rather win, and the Champions League trophy is normally the top priority. European nights in the spotlight and playing in the big stadiums against the best teams on the continent and the best players in the world, that’s what it’s all about.
Six-time champions Liverpool know this better than anyone. The European trophy is synonymous with football club. This is where Liverpool belong.
LEARN MORE: Philippe Coutinho transfer update, $128m bid for Manchester United – Liverpool rivals roundup
LEARN MORE: Liverpool departing data manager who recommended Jürgen Klopp has already settled the truth about FSG ‘sack’
However, given the club’s poor form so far this year, qualification for next year’s Champions League seems unlikely. At this point, while not impossible – Liverpool having achieved a similar miracle through Alisson in 2020/21 – it looks very much like an uphill battle, one that hinges on some fortune.
What’s more likely is Liverpool potentially playing in the Europa League or the Europa Conference League next season, although even that is far from guaranteed. But if the Reds qualify for either of those two competitions, that’s still a better situation than not playing in Europe at all.
Especially because Europe can be extremely beneficial alongside Jürgen Klopp. After all, it was a run to the Europa League final in 2016 that first motivated Klopp’s Liverpool to keep achieving bigger and better things. And it’s always a trophy to win against tough teams and different styles of opponents in European football.
This last part could be particularly beneficial for Klopp in order to lay down his youngsters. At present, Bobby Clark, Ben Doak and Kaide Gordon will have limited opportunities as Liverpool do not participate in any of the domestic cups.
However, the Europa League could pave the way for them to impress and grab attention.
It’s a competition that has been hugely beneficial for Arsenal in that sense. The likes of Buyako Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah have all benefited immensely from the Europa League, testing themselves against tough opponents before making their mark in the Premier League as well.
Europa League teams can often be significantly below Premier League levels, especially in the group stages. That would mean more opportunities for Klopp to test his young players during this part of the competition, rather than trying to accommodate them in an altogether tougher, higher-stakes Champions League campaign.
Of course, Liverpool don’t want to stay in the Europa League or the Europa Conference League indefinitely. But for a season, as Klopp rebuilds his squad and brings in some of his younger players to rejuvenate the squad, dropping out of the Champions League could in some ways even prove beneficial for the club. For proof, just look at Saka, who is making the case for Player of the Season after failing in Europe’s second-tier competition.