Pre-season 2021 is here and certain Liverpool players have something to prove. Here are what five of them must show Jurgen Klopp and co.
We’ll start with an obvious one. Konate joins the club this summer from RB Leipzig and immediately has an important role.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all returning from injury and there will be doubts over their fitness to start the season. We imagine Liverpool will want to be extra careful with all three, limiting their game time.
Thus Konate starts the season as an almost guaranteed starter – if he proves himself. Really, the 22-year-old only has to show that he’s got the positioning down. Do that and Jurgen Klopp can comfortably put him in the squad to start the season without changing anything else.
But he must click fast.
Same again for Keita. As with last year and the year before that, Keita has to show that things are really starting to fit together for him. He’s a wonderfully talented player but one we rarely see the best of.
For us, Keita’s just not as aggressive as his talent allows. He should be consistently running with the ball, driving forwards and forcing himself on teams.
Instead, he often goes missing. This summer, then, is another opportunity for Keita to prove that he can influence games a little more. With Gini Wijnaldum gone, the chance is there to move up in the pecking order.
Speaking of Wijnaldum being gone, this is a huge summer for Jones. The Telegraph reported last month that Liverpool may avoid replacing the Dutchman as the youngster is ready to step up.
For what it’s worth, we think that’s a good idea – but Jones has to prove he’s up to the task. That means showing he’s ready to kick on another level and take a more senior role.
Liverpool are yet to sign anyone for their midfield, after all. Jones has his opportunity to show that place is his.
Elliott will be in the first-team squad next season, according to the Liverpool Echo. Or at least, that’s the plan. Firstly, he’s got to show he’s ready.
There’s no doubting that Elliott was sensational on loan in the Championship last season. Doing what he did at his age was brilliant and the 18-year-old deserves plenty of praise.
But it was still the Championship. Elliott was merely good for his age, rather than the outstanding player in the division – there’s a big jump from there to Liverpool.
The Reds will want to see if he’s ready to continue his development with the club, then. We’ll back him to prove himself but there’s still a question mark.
Tsimikas barely featured last season – he had only six Premier League minutes – and Liverpool won’t want that to be the case going forward. Andy Robertson has been run into the ground, in truth, and he needs support.
Tsimikas is that support. There’s a very good chance that Robertson breaks down over the next 12 months if he doesn’t get more rest. The Greek full-back has to be in a position to give him that, then.
That means proving he’s solid enough in defence but more importantly, that he has the quality to offer Liverpool width on the left. It’s a vital job for the team and one that asks a lot.
Liverpool signed Tsimikas for a reason, though. Let’s finally see if he’s up to the task.