Jack Hallows runs through what he believes Liverpool need to do this summer to challenge for the Premier League title in 2018/19.
The silly season has thrown so many names at us so far this summer it’s incredible.
From rumours so far-fetched you can only laugh such as a £150m+ bid for Marco Asensio, to links with every goalkeeper on the planet including but not limited to Jack Butland, Nick Pope, Gianluigi Buffon, Alisson Becker, Jan Oblak and Thomas Strakosha.
Almost ironically, however, the club have already brought in two players this summer, neither of whom anyone knew were coming.
Fabinho came out of nowhere just days after the Champions League final and while we’ve known Naby Keïta would be joining Liverpool since last summer, it was a surprise to everybody when that signing was initially made.
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The Goalkeeper: Upgrades only
As much as I can’t believe I’m saying this after his Champions League final blunders, if Liverpool cannot sign one of Alisson Becker from AS Roma or Jan Oblak from Atletico Madrid – neither look likely, unfortunately – then Loris Karius should start in net on the opening day of the 2018/19 season.
This summer is huge for Liverpool and every single penny should be spent on improvements and while you could argue that the club could still bring in a keeper to improve on current number two Danny Ward, what would that solve?
I simply wouldn’t understand if the club go out and spend £30m+ on a goalkeeper such as Stoke City’s Jack Butland who would represent competition for Karius number one jersey but nothing more.
Goalkeeper is one of the most important positions on the pitch and while I agree that we should be looking for an upgrade, if one’s not available then Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool cannot afford to be paying big money just to fuck around with another average stopper.
For me, we either go big or we stick with what we’ve got.
The Defence: A partner for Virgil?
In truth, much of Jürgen Klopp’s defence actually looks to have come together quite nicely.
The Reds have depth in both full-back positions with Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne set to challenge Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold for starting spots and of course, record defensive signing Virgil van Dijk looks to be one of the best pieces of business Liverpool have ever done.
However, the debate still lingers as to whether the rest of Liverpool’s centre halves are up to the task of not only partnering van Dijk but representing ample replacement if he’s forced to miss a game.
Young Joe Gomez has an exciting future but cannot be relied upon full-time just yet, while former Bundesliga pair Ragnar Klavan and Joël Matip failed to impress across the season just gone and I’d not be upset to see one of them moved on this summer.
Truthfully, Dejan Lovren is probably Liverpool’s second best centre back currently but while no one can deny that on his day he’s a brilliant defender, it’s his off days that cause the Reds problems.
Can the Croatian be relied upon across 38 games to not have one of his almost trademark meltdowns? I genuinely don’t know the answer to that.
That said, I’m more than happy to see him start on the opening day of the coming season if Liverpool sign a player capable of rivaling the former Southampton man for that spot.
Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles has been linked, as has James Tarkowski of Burnley and personally I’d be chuffed to see the club shell out on one of them.
Both players fit the profile of being natural leaders, strong in the tackle, good in the air and at 24 and 25 years old respectively, would represent a purchase that would benefit Liverpool not only for the coming season but the coming years.
What’s not to like?
The Midfield: Another one?
Liverpool have already gone above and beyond in strengthening this part of their squad with the signings of Fabinho and Naby Keïta but one feels there is still more to be done.
The club’s chase of Nabil Fekir has been well documented so far this summer and it’s pleasing to see that despite Klopp’s assurances that Philippe Coutinho does not need replacing, the manager has identified that goals and creativity from midfield were not easy to come by following the Brazilian’s departure in January.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went some way towards rectifying this during the period between February and April but his cruel injury against Roma means he will be missing until well into the coming season. Pair this with the fact that Adam Lallana’s injury record seems to be on par with my 80-year-old nan’s and Klopp’s options in this position look very thin.
If the club does choose not to go back in for Nabil Fekir once the World Cup is over, they certainly shouldn’t be giving up on their effort to strengthen this position.
Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, PSG’s Julian Draxler and Hakim Ziyech of Ajax would all represent options that Liverpool could target, while Christian Pulisic of Dortmund is a well-documented favourite of Klopp’s.
It might seem a little ridiculous for the club to bring in three midfield options in one window but with the aforementioned Lallana conundrum, Emre Can’s exit and the legs of James Milner not getting any younger, you can see where the thought process comes from.
The Forwards: Clear out the deadwood
It’s clear that Liverpool need quality back-up for the deadly front three we all know and love but in order to do that, a clear-out will be needed first.
While Firmino, Salah and Mané set the footballing world alight throughout the season just gone, all of Klopp’s back-up options put together (Sturridge, Lallana, Ings and Solanke) scored a grand total of five goals in all competitions.
Yes, you read that right: five.
Of those five goals, only two came from one of those players being introduced off the bench (Sturridge both times) – an alarming indication that if Liverpool’s plan A went wrong, their plan B wasn’t exactly going to be of much help.
This means that the club should desperately be looking to find a forward with pace, an eye for goal and an ability to stretch opposition late on in games to help the Reds turn potential losses into draws and draws into victories.
Xherdan Shaqiri has been linked frequently of late with his £12m release clause sounding tempting while Moses Simon, Gonçalo Guedes and Sporting Lisbon winger Gelson Martins have also been mentioned.
It is worth noting that any name that does come through the door to strengthen the front three will likely be of the versatile kind, with plenty of news outlets running the story that Klopp is not interested in signing a striker this summer and will look to promote Rhian Brewster into the first team set up.
Good move? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.