The Liverpool squad for the 20/21 season will be three players larger than planned. Can that work in the Reds’ favour this year?
Liverpool didn’t sell Marko Grujic, Harry Wilson or Xherdan Shaqiri on deadline day. They didn’t even loan them out. The trio will, instead, take places in 20/21 Liverpool squad.
Clearly, that wasn’t the plan. They tried to sell all three, after all, and wanted £20m a piece. Because no one offered that, however, the situation is what it is.
Can it work in Liverpool’s favour, though?
The easy answer is ‘yes’. This is a strange season, after all, as it will be compacted to get all the games in before May ends. The late start forced that and games will come thick and fast as a result.
Thus there is more need to rotate. On top of that, the risk of injury is higher as players push themselves harder. If ever there was time to have a bigger squad, then, it’s now.
Technically, though, the squad is too big. Liverpool can only register 17 non-homegrown players in the Premier League and Shaqiri & Grujic take them to 18. Someone will have to sit out, then.
The easy way around that is including one in the Premier League squad and the other in the Champions League squad. That way, one will be available to rotate with game-by-game.
So from a rotation standpoint, this can be a positive.
But how do the players fit in? Are they actually useful to Liverpool? We think so, yes.
Now, having both Wilson and Shaqiri is a problem. They’re both very similar players. Each is best-suited on the right-wing and they’re set-piece specialists. Liverpool won’t have wanted both to stay.
But on the other hand, they don’t have proper cover for Mohamed Salah. The only other natural right-winger at the club is Harvey Elliott and he’s firmly one for the future. Having that cover, then, does work out.
The only question over Wilson and Shaqiri is how well they actually suit Liverpool. Neither are out-and-out direct wingers – they prefer cutting in front and shooting from range. They’re not looking to run beyond defences like Salah.
It remains to be seen how Klopp uses them, then.
Grujic, on the other hand, is a great fit. He’s physical, versatile in midfield, and really just fits the profile wonderfully. His problem is the opposite – there are far too many central midfielders at the club.
If Grujic gets opportunities, he may well move up the pecking order. Getting them will be tough, though. He’s competing against midfielders that helped deliver the title last season, as well as new-boy Thiago.
But he’s talented. If he does somehow get a chance, we’d back him to take it.
So overall, yes – this can work out for Liverpool. It could end up working quite well, in fact. Each player does bring something to the squad, even if we don’t expect to see any of them often at all.
But as we say, if ever Liverpool were to have ‘too many’ players, this is the year.