Dylan Gerstley discusses how Liverpool’s transfer business will impact the squad this season.
The season starts tomorrow and the Reds have been active in Jürgen Klopp’s first summer transfer window as manager.
That said, fans still hanker for new additions to complete the squad and make it more ready for a title challenge. Even without European football, the gruelling Premier League schedule requires both talent and depth.
Mario Balotelli and Christian Benteke are (finally) set to leave the club, if reports are to be believed. The two misfiring strikers are clearly very talented, but the former lacks a brain and an attitude while the latter just does not fit into Klopp’s tactical style.
Daniel Sturridge is one of the best strikers in the world with a huge caveat. The Englishman is never fit and his recent hip injury suggests that nothing has changed, even with a new training regime.
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The questions then becomes, are Divock Origi and Danny Ings enough to provide a Premier League trophy? In short, yes, they are, especially since Roberto Firmino can also play in the striking role. Origi and Ings have both shown uncanny finishing ability and both offer a physical presence that can cope with Premier League defences.
The midfield looks largely set. A new addition or two might provide more balance and depth but riding it out will not harm Liverpool in any way. Lucas Leiva is rumored to be on the move, but a true defensive midfielder will be needed to takeover. Kevin Stewart looks talented but lacks the experience to be counted on.
The attacking side of the ball is settled. Adam Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Wijnaldum can all play in advanced roles and perform.
The box to box or more defensive minded pairing is still a concern. Emre Can is one of the most talented youngsters in the world so his place is assured but James Milner and Jordan Henderson will want in on the action. Milner proved his quality last season but his versatility may force him to cover at left back while Jordan Henderson’s injury woes last campaign seem to have destroyed his confidence. No one sees the players train everyday, but if Klopp is comfortable with Henderson, then he must be getting back to his best at Melwood.
In short, an addition would not be a bad idea but it is getting late. Finding a cost effective, squad rotation player will be difficult, but the club can count on Lucas Leiva if he stays.
The defence is finally looking solid again. Joel Matip, along with with Ragnar Klavan, has impressed on the ball. Both also look like solid, commanding defenders while Dejan Lovren seems to finally be regaining his confidence. Mamadou Sakho’s off field issues aside, this looks like Liverpool’s best central defence in years.
Nathaniel Clyne is possibly the Premier League’s best right back but the left side is not as certain. Alberto Moreno has failed to convince in a defensive capacity, forcing Milner to cover in the Barcelona game, but besides that glaring weakness, the club do have depth in either full back position. Jon Flanagan is out on loan while Joe Gomez injured his Achilles tendon. A left back is clearly needed, especially if Klopp wants the title.
Loris Karius was brought in and has looked exceptional in between the sticks. He is exactly the kind of first team boost the squad needed but his untimely injury will make the initial few weeks of the season tough. Veteran Alex Manninger was also brought in to help train Mignolet and Karius. This is a shrewd move, and with the injury to Karius, he may actually have time to settle and learn more before being thrust into Premier League action. Mignolet may not be the best all around keeper, but if he wants a spot he will have to play well and his form in preseason seems to suggest he is ready to earn his place.
All in all, it has been a very successful first window with Klopp and already the squad are showing signs of becoming ruthless winners.