Jack Hallows analyses why it’s time for Jürgen Klopp to break the mould in terms of Liverpool FC’s transfer policy this summer if he wants to continue on an upward trajectory.
Jürgen Klopp is the perfect fit for Liverpool Football Club. From his preferred style of play to his general transfer policy, it’s all just a great fit.
For me though, potential quality cannot be the only thing that Klopp looks for this summer and the German will have to address a number of other things to ensure his squad continues on an upward trajectory next season.
Physical attributes – Strength, speed and endurance
These are three attributes that Klopp is going to have to address massively. The German tried across July to start adding them to the side – Mané’s speed, the height of both Grujic/Matip and the underrated strength of Wijnaldum – but it’s become clear this season that his recruitment last summer just wasn’t quite enough.
A recent interview with Andy Hunter for Anfield HQ revealed his belief that Klopp will look to not just add pace in his front line but all across the pitch – something I’m inclined to agree with – and it shows in all of his reported targets so far.
Naby Keita would add dynamism, pace and composure to the Reds midfield and despite only standing 5′7 in height, the Guinean is of a similar build to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante. He boasts incredible balance and centre-back the tackle and his low centre of gravity allows him to shrug off players much taller and bigger in build.
On the flip side, both reported centre back targets Virgil Van Dijk and Kalidou Koulibaly possess pace alongside very impressive physical builds, with both standing at 6′4 and weighing in around the 198lb mark of pure muscle. Even targeted winger Julian Brandt of Bayer Leverkusen stands at 6′1.
The final physical attribute that Klopp will need to pay very heavy attention to – especially in relation to his centre back targets – is durability.
Liverpool have been hit heavily by injuries this season and the squad has missed a collective 38 months of football between them. Key positions such as centre back, holding midfield and striker have all seen a lack of continuity and it’s no secret that these patches have coincided with Liverpool’s poorer patches of form.
The Reds defeat to Crystal Palace was the first game that they’ve lost when Matip and Lovren have started together but unfortunately for Klopp’s men, they’ve only started as a duo 14 times. Out of 34 Premier League games, that’s not at all good enough.
Of course, injuries can hit anyone at any time but looking at players with a proven ability to play through knocks and avoid serious injury would be a smart decision.
Experience & proven winning mentality
Other than James Milner, who in our squad has actually won anything of any real note? That’s the sad truth about Liverpool Football Club and while it is possible to mould players into winners, Klopp needs to add talent that have experience in what is required when the stakes are high.
The Reds biggest problem last season when failing in both the League Cup and Europa League finals was a lack of mental strength that only comes from players possessing a strong, winners mentality stepping up and delivering examples for the other players.
The likes of Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres weren’t winners when they came to Liverpool but their drive to be amongst the world’s best couple with the opportunity to learn from winners such as Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard – and in Torres’ case, Xabi Alonso – was priceless.
If Klopp can add another two or three players with experience at the highest level then the Reds will likely become a completely different beast to deal with on the field. Marquee signings are always coveted by the fans and for good reason.
They don’t just score goals, make brilliantly timed tackles or rack up the clean sheets. They create space for others, influence team mentality and lead by example when the squad need it.
Genuine competition for places over understudies
Ryan Sessegnon is a fantastic prospect for the future don’t get me wrong and I’d love to have him at the club but Klopp cannot be looking simply for understudies this summer.
The Reds injury problems have shown time and again the lack of genuine quality and competition outside of the Reds first choice XI and it’s hit us hard throughout the season. The German needs to look at buying genuine competition for his centre-backs, midfielders and forwards to inspire them to keep up top form or risk being benched and dropped.
The timing of Klopp’s substitutions and general lack of them overall gives us a hugely worrying insight into the trust that he has in players that don’t make his starting XI and it’s something that desperately needs to be addressed.
A bunch of 17-year-old academy prospects, Alberto Moreno and a crippled Daniel Sturridge does not win you a title. If reports are correct and Klopp does indeed have a 9 figure transfer budget this summer, he needs to spend absolutely every single penny on improving the quality in his squad’s depth.