Joseph Kavaloski argues that squad depth won’t be an issue for Liverpool after the capitulation of January with Jürgen Klopp’s intention to boost the squad in the summer.
Much has been made of Liverpool’s depth issues this season. Whether it be the defence or among the team’s attacking group, the Reds have been lacking whenever key players have been out with injury or international commitments.
The easiest example of how poorly Liverpool has played without certain players is the entire month of January. The Reds only eked out one win (in an FA Cup replay with Plymouth Argyle) and effectively ruined all hopes of ending the club’s title drought.
Heading into the season, it was easy to see that the biggest problem area in the team was depth. Liverpool was especially thin on the flanks and in defence. Unsurprisingly, these have been the two areas most hit by notable player absences and the perhaps the biggest reason why the Reds will be spending the remainder of the season competing for a top four spot instead of the title.
Thankfully, without any other competitions to weigh down Liverpool’s fixture list, the Reds’ lack of depth should not be exposed any further. Jürgen Klopp will have a week in between each match to allow players to fully recover from each match, hopefully minimising injuries in the process.
Even though depth should no longer be an issue this season, that does not mean that the problem will go unnoticed by management over the next few months. Unlike this year, the Reds will be competing in Europe next season and the squad will need to be much deeper if the team hopes to avoid the mid-season collapse of last month.
The easiest way to address this problem is in the summer transfer window. Klopp has already identified multiple players he hopes to go after once the season concludes, including Julian Brandt as perhaps the team’s highest priority.
Brandt would help the competition on the wings behind Sadio Mané and Philippe Coutinho, but the Reds still need to add in midfield and defence. Notable targets in the midfield include Franck Kessie and Mahmoud Dahoud, but as of now, no defensive players have been identified.
From all indications, Klopp is not going to ignore the Reds’ lack of depth. Each of the aforementioned three players would likely begin their Anfield careers as squad players, meaning that they would be the perfect injury replacement/squad rotation pieces. Being that each are young and have tantalising potential, this would not be their long-term role in the club. However, their presence in the short term would go a long way towards fixing the side’s depth problems.
Another factor in Klopp’s favour is the continued development of the team’s youth players. Ovie Ejaria has shown glimpses of his potential in limited playing time this year as has other players such as Trent Alexander-Arnold. Another year of development from players such as these two could play a big role in bridging the talent gap from the starting eleven to the bench.
Furthermore, Sheyi Ojo, Marko Grujic, and Joe Gomez were all expected to provide valuable depth this season, yet each have been plagued by injuries. If they can stay off the treatment table and consistently work on their development in training, those three could play big roles in cup competitions and in Europe next year.
Solutions do appear to be on the horizon, but nothing can be done right now. Transfers will need to be made and youngsters will need to step up this summer. The Reds have been so-so in the transfer market over the past few years, but there should be no excuses for not bringing in multiple players. If this does not occur, the odds of Liverpool sustaining a run in the Champions League will be extremely low.
If you’d like to discuss the issue of squad depth with Joe, be sure to find him on Twitter.