Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is certain the Reds' squad will be better than it was last season and has challenged his players to use last season as a springboard to ensure qualification into the group stages of the Champions League.

Klopp's side secured a place in the final qualifying round for Europe's premier club competition with a top four finish last season and have set about bolstering their ranks in order to be able to compete both domestically and overseas.

The Reds have already signed Dominic Solanke and Mohamed Salah from Chelsea and Roma respectively and are intent on adding to the attacking duo with Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk and RB Leipzig's Naby Keita, who has his "heart set" on a move to Anfield.

Klopp is eager to see the Holland star and Guinea international included in his Liverpool squad for next season and believes the current Anfield crop, who reported back for pre-season training on Wednesday (5 July), have considerably progressed in recent months.

"The squad will be stronger this year than it was last year," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "That's a real reason for real optimism. We all know in a few weeks we have these qualifiers and there will be pressure on the game.

"But now we have the time to prepare this and we have to use the basis we created last year – it was not too bad. We all know it could have been maybe a little bit better but it could have been much worse.

"We are now one of the top four teams in England last season, so now we want to keep this situation and work with it and improve."

Salah and Solanke are two encouraging additions, but Liverpool were left red-faced after their pursuit of Van Dijk turned farcical. The Reds publicly and privately apologised to the Saints, who were left fuming by the alleged illegal approach, but Liverpool are still hoping to strike a deal before the end of the transfer window.

A deal for the £70m-rated Keita is by no means a foregone conclusion either, with Leipzig determined to keep the well-rounded 22-year-old as they prepare for their inaugural Champions League campaign. Klopp has told Liverpool's supporters to adopt a patient approach as they 'wait for the right moment'.

"Of course the transfer market opened a few days ago," Klopp added. "Yes, it will be a difficult one, maybe it's getting more and more difficult, especially in England.

"But we have made a lot of good things so far. If you cannot see it so far, you can imagine we have done a lot of things behind the scenes. Sometimes you need to be patient and that's what we are in the moment - to wait for the right moment and then we will see what happens."

Jurgen Klopp
Klopp is playing the waiting game in the transfer market. Getty Images