Premier League clubs voted this week to reduce the number of substitutes permitted per game ahead of the 2020/21 season which begins on September 12.
Having been increased to five during Project Restart, once again, it has reverted to three. This could directly affect Liverpool in a number of ways next season.
There was a growing argument that the ‘big clubs’ benefited from having more players on the bench and being able to utilise their squad depth by throwing on more substitutes.
If this were the case for the entire season it would suggest that the teams that spend the most money will get the better use out of players which isn’t a sustainable model as it focusses on the number of players rather than quality.
This isn’t to say that the five substitution role wasn’t beneficial for Liverpool post lockdown as it enabled players such as Takumi Minamino, Curtis Jones, Neco Williams and Naby Keita to enjoy a more sustained period in the team.
What the rule effectively did in theory was reduce the number of minutes players are asked to play. This meant that Klopp could rotate more often rather than play the same XI week-in-week-out which is why results took a dip towards the end of the season once the title was won.
The Reds may regret that they will not have as much leeway in terms of showing off their impressive squad depth, yet it means Klopp will instead make full use of the fact that Liverpool currently boast the best XI currently in the league and typically prefer to make less changes.
What’s the effect on the squad?
The three substitute rule underlines that Liverpool have to shape their squad accordingly this summer.
Klopp tends to squeeze out every drop he can from his Premier League winning-squad as Liverpool’s most trusted XI were pushed to their physical limits before the lockdown.
This creates a need to potentially close the gap between the first team starters and second choice, and make rotation feel more natural and sustainable.
Liverpool once again will have to balance their PL title defence alongside Champions League duties which will effectively mean the Reds will be in action twice a week for the foreseeable future due to the fixture congestion.
No signings have been made just yet, but already Liverpool have drawn up a list of interests and bids are being made. Klopp’s ability to make full use of his squad will ultimately determine whether the team can cope with the physical demands to go again next season.
One alteration to the set-up next season will be the effects of the changes that determine matchday squads will now go down from 20 players to 18.
This will make life harder for Klopp to keep his fringe players happy and reassure that game-time will become available.
Xherdan Shaqiri for instance only started two PL matches last season and wasn’t selected entirely for the matchday squad on numerous occasions.
The former Bayern Munich star’s chances will get even tougher if Liverpool strengthen, and only 18 players can be included next season.
This also makes a case regarding the futures of returning loanees Harry Wilson and Marko Grujic who will also struggle to regularly feature under Klopp in the 2020/21 campaign.
Liverpool have shown that they believe the future of the club to lie with the likes of Jones, Williams and Harvey Elliott which makes it hard to imagine either Wilson or Grujic being given the opportunity to impress next season and most likely could be moved on.
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