‘So glad I listened to my agent’ – Liverpool defender rejected Manchester United and makes Jurgen Klopp retirement claim

As Liverpool go in pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple, Jurgen Klopp continues to rotate his side to give the Reds the best possible chance of glory. However, that was not quite the case the last time the club were still competing on all fronts at this stage of the season.

Gerard Houllier famously led Liverpool to a cup treble in 2000/01, with the Reds lifting the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup, as well as qualifying for the Champions League for the first time, as they competed in every game possible to them over the course of the campaign. Should Jurgen Klopp’s side reach the Champions League and FA Cup final this season, they will match that feat and contest a maximum of 63 matches.

Jordan Henderson has made more appearances than anyone else for Liverpool this season, featuring in 41 of the Reds’ 47 matches, while Alisson and Virgil van Dijk boast the most starts with 38 apiece. Yet remarkably back in 2000/01, defender Markus Babbel started a whopping 60 times in his maiden season on Merseyside as he helped Houllier’s men clinch the treble – even scoring the opener in their UEFA Cup win over Alaves.

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Playing at right-back, he thrived as an attacking full-back following his Bosman transfer from Bayern Munich, scoring six goals and recording five assists with his presence ensuring Jamie Carragher was switched to left-back. Yet despite being a fan-favorite as a result, and one of the first names Kopites will associate with that season, his career could have turned out very differently had he not listened to his agent.

A member of the Bayern Munich side that lost to Manchester United in the Champions League final in 1999, Sir Alex Ferguson had previously tried to sign the German with a deal even being agreed with the Bavarians. However, Babbel would turn down the offer before signing for Liverpool in 2000.

Looking back, he certainly has no regrets with a couple of reasons ensuring a switch to Old Trafford would not have been right.

“(I was) very close. At this time, it was a record fee, nobody had ever been signed for that fee before, ”he told the ECHO via bet365. “There were 40 million German Marks at the time.

“I was talking to United, but my agent said to me, ‘Listen Mark, there’s something wrong. They are willing to pay this much on your transfer fee, but your salary is okay, nothing more. With this money on the transfer fee, they should be paying a lot higher wages. ”

I said, “Okay, I do not have to leave if it’s not right, I’m happy to stay at Bayern Munich.” It’s a fantastic club and afterwards, with hindsight, I’m so happy it did not happen. They wanted to sign me as a center back, but I was not the best at center back!

“In Germany I always played with three at the back, so it was a different game for me: three versus two center backs. The right side was the perfect position for me in that United back four, but they had Gary Neville, one of the greatest right backs at the time.

“I’m so glad I listened to my agent and waited to go to Liverpool.”

Having won the treble at Anfield, Babbel is well-placed to know what it takes to challenge on all fronts over the course of the season. So with that experience, what does he make of his former club’s quadruple chances?

“They can (win the quadruple) yes, especially with the depth in that squad,” he insists. They have 16-18 fantastic players, and the rest of the squad are good, which is a huge advantage. They have quality for it, but will need a bit of luck too, no injuries or unexpected mishaps.

“You see how strong they are with strength in depth. If someone got injured half a year ago, it was a problem – now it’s not an issue.

“The new players have settled in brilliantly. Konate was struggling at first and now he’s looking very comfortable. Diaz too, another new player, I can not believe how well he’s doing! You’d think he’d been playing for Liverpool for ten years.

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“Of course, Liverpool have the quality so my dream is either Liverpool or Bayern Munich lifting the Champions League at the end of this season. Teams like Man City (and) Real Madrid will make it difficult.

Bayern Munich have excellent players, but I think their squad is not big enough. Both clubs (Liverpool and Bayern) have the potential to win it. Man City, Real Madrid and these other clubs can also win the title, but I would say Man City and Liverpool are the favorites. ”

With Klopp’s contract set to expire in 2024, speculation about his future continues. However, the German will not be distracted by such talk as he looks to lead Liverpool to further silverware over the next two years.

And Babbel believes his compatriot might be persuaded to carry on at Anfield, believing the Reds boss could even decide to retire when the time comes for him to leave Liverpool. However, he believes it’s a different story when it comes to Pep Guardiola and Man City, backing the former Bayern boss to make a shock move when he departs the Etihad.

“If he leaves Liverpool, then he’s retiring,” he suggested. “After Liverpool where do you go? You can not go to Bayern, you can not join another English club. The only thing I can imagine is the German national team.

If Hansi Flick is not successful then maybe he has a go with the national team, but he’s so full of fire I can not see him leaving anytime soon. So much energy, he’s so happy with his boys, I can not believe he’ll finish when his contract expires.

“I would not be surprised if he (Guardiola) went to Newcastle. He’s a fantastic coach, one of the best ever, but he’s not as emotionally invested as Klopp. As long as he has money to spend building a team, he could go anywhere. ”

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