So Liverpool are set for a big rebuild in summer 2022, according to reports.
The original Jurgen Klopp side looks like it could be entering its final season together before there are some big changes.
Per The Athletic, the club’s hierarchy are aware that the squad needs refreshing. Big steps are set to be taken a year from now.
Honestly, it probably started back in 2020 with the arrivals of Thiago and Diogo Jota. The two players were meant to be additions to the regular starting XI, although injuries slowed this transition.
It certainly continued this summer with the departure of Gini Wijnaldum. The Dutchman was the first key player of the Champions League and Premier League-winning sides to depart.
There is still time for this evolution to continue in the next month or so. We reckon that Liverpool may sign their future central midfielder or attacker before the end of the window.
Yet the key additions will be for 2022/23. That is when the first-choice XI of today will have seen serious changes.
Here is what we think might happen.
Liverpool 2022 Rebuild: The Departures
We reckon that there are four current players that may drop out of the regular XI in 2022.
Whether these all depart the club is another story.
By September 2022, Jordan Henderson will be 32.
The chances are that he will be getting phased out of the side by then. His body will not be able to play 50 games a season or whatever it may be.
We know about the reported contract issues that he is having at the moment. Hopefully, he stays at the club as a rotation option who starts the biggest games, but the story certainly has legs.
Thiago will be 31 this time next year. Injury meant that his Liverpool career is only really starting now, and we expect big things in 2021/22.
Yet the injuries are there. We highly doubt that he will be fit for every game in 2022/23 either.
Roberto Firmino will most likely be pushed out of the “strongest XI” by Diogo Jota very soon.
We think that he could actually be sold next summer as he enters the final year of his contract. It will be the last time that Liverpool will be able to get a big fee for him.
Finally, Sadio Mane is about to enter his most important season of recent years.
If he plays like last season again, Liverpool will simply have to sell him. If he recovers his form, then he will continue as a regular key man.
We expect Divock Origi, Taki Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri to all leave this summer.
Meanwhile, Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita need to stay injury-free to have a hope of extending their Anfield careers beyond next season.
Liverpool 2022 Rebuild: The Arrivals
This is incredibly hard to predict without seeing who is brought in this year first.
The goalkeeper and back four is settled. But questions are being asked about the midfield and attack.
In RTK’s view, the Reds need to sign a No 8 this summer and another next summer.
They also need a long-term Salah replacement that can provide better-quality depth and a player that will replace Firmino. Depending on what is available, this could be a left-winger or a striker, with Jota filling the gaps.
Truth be told, it doesn’t matter which profile of attacker is signed this summer.
In an ideal world, Renato Sanches and Noni Madueke would be signed in 2021, with Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland following in 2022.
Sanches would be the perfect Wijnaldum replacement. He and Naby Keita could battle it out to play this season when one of the regular midfield of Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago gets injured or needs a rest.
Madueke would be the long-term Salah replacement who can make an impact in the immediate.
Bellingham is the dream Henderson replacement. Signing him is a no-brainer.
Meanwhile, Haaland is going to be world-class for the next decade and he has a release clause that makes him very attainable next summer.
Signing him almost guarantees success for years to come.
As well as these, there will likely be some new additions to bulk up the squad and replace departing deadwood.
So how will Liverpool’s 2022/23 starting XI look?
It is important to remember that no team plays the same team every game. There will be plenty of rotation in the side.
Yet we will still be able to guess the “best XI”, for lack of a better phrase. Basically, the starting line-up for a big game if everyone is fit and in form.
Alisson is a guarantee. As are Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
The battle is between Matip, Joe Gomez and Ibou Konate to be van Dijk’s partner. We reckon it will be Gomez.
Fabinho is a certainty at No 6.
The two No 8s are the biggest question marks. We will go for prospective new boy Bellingham and Naby Keita, who we have been drawn in by yet again.
Henderson, Thiago and Sanches will all hopefully be around the squad. There is also Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott to factor in, but they will still be young by then.
We still think that Salah will have his place over a Madueke or Elliott by then. Yet he could be played as a striker, rather than as a winger.
Hopefully, Haaland will be the new No 9 though.
Jota will have fought Firmino and Mane out by then too, although, like Salah, he could also be the striker.
If Liverpool reach the 2022/23 Champions League Final, this could be the starting XI: