Have Liverpool upgraded their title-winning squad from two seasons ago? That’s the big question as the Reds attempt to win their trophy back.
Last season was an unfortunate write-off for Liverpool. The Reds just couldn’t compete as they’d have liked, given all the injuries in the squad.
This season, though, they’ll hope to return to the top of the pile. But is the current squad capable of that? Just how does it stack up to the title winners of two years ago?
Is this Liverpool squad upgraded from two years ago?
Have Liverpool upgraded their squad?
Three first-team players have left Liverpool since Jordan Henderson raised that trophy. Adam Lallana was the first, leaving at the end of his contract in 2020.
Then Dejan Lovren followed by joining Zenit St. Petersburg. This summer, of course, has seen Gini Wijnaldum depart with the end of his deal.
Lallana and Lovren were good players who had a role in that squad. Neither were particularly significant by then, however. You cannot say the same about Wijnaldum.
The Dutchman was a first-team regular whose all-around game contributed enormously to Liverpool’s success. Wijnaldum could be defensively sound when needed, he’d keep the ball when he had to, and impact the game going forward on occasion.
Then there’s the fact that Wijnaldum was the only reliably fit senior midfielder at Liverpool over the last two years. That’s a big loss.
So how have Liverpool added to their squad? Well, last summer saw three players join permanently.
Diogo Jota and Thiago were outstanding signings last season. They’re fantastic players who each brought something new to the squad.
Thiago adds world-class possession football and an ability to create from deep that Liverpool lacked. And in Jota, the Reds added quality depth to the attack that their title-winning team simply didn’t have.
The other signing was Kostas Tsimikas. We’re yet to see exactly what he brings as the Greek barely featured last season – just six Premier League minutes.
But what he certainly brings is depth at left-back that, again, Liverpool didn’t have. That eases the pressure on Andy Robertson and makes things easier.
This summer brought Ibrahima Konate. Now, on the face of it, he simply adds depth to the defence at the moment. Liverpool now have four or five centre-backs they’d trust in a big game, including Nat Phillips.
One big factor here is how players have changed over the last two years. And it’s mostly for the better.
We mentioned Phillips. If he sticks around, there’s little argument that Liverpool have outstanding depth at centre-back. They would look strong even with an injury or two.
Players like Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott – who were technically in that title squad – are far better than they were then. The latter two, in particular, delivered last season in ways they never had.
Then there’s Caoimhin Kelleher, who feels like an upgrade as a backup goalkeeper who just keeps getting better.
We think Trent Alexander-Arnold might be an even better player than he was, too. The adversity last season appeared to have a positive effect on the Scouser and his performances post-March were spectacular.
But there are questions we need to answer. Are Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino going to bounce back after a disappointing year? We’d back them to but we do need to see it.
And you can add Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip to that. Will all three still be elite after their serious injuries? We just don’t know yet and won’t until the season starts.
So is this an upgrade?
On paper, we’d have to say ‘yes’. Liverpool have more depth in defence, more depth in attack and some of their players have simply gotten better.
But it’s hard to be definitive until we know some of the problems of last year are gone. If the forwards return to their consistent best and if the centre-backs recover properly, then it’s a resounding yes.
If we see further struggles, though, it’s hard to label this squad as better. Wijnaldum’s departure could be felt in a big way, too, should injuries hit certain players.
But there’s one more consideration. We’re looking at the squad as it currently is – halfway through a transfer window. There is talk that Liverpool are done but time remains to add further players.
Throw in a midfielder and more cover up top? Then this squad would definitely be superior to the Reds’ dominant champions.