Liverpool’s hope of retaining last year’s Premier League title is effectively over, but with the summer transfer window opening up soon, there’s a chance for Jürgen Klopp’s team to be firing on all cylinders once again.
Klopp isn’t known for rotating his usual starting eleven, and so the strength of his first team has been weakened as player by player has fallen foul of injuries.
There’s no doubting how big the last few games of the season are for Liverpool, following OLBG.com pundits' advice
, Liverpool are now the underdogs in the betting to qualify for the Champions League, this could have a serious impact on the quality of players they’ll be able to bring to Anfield over the summer.
Klopp’s signing history at Liverpool
After Klopp’s appointment in 2015 he delayed bringing in new players until he fully appraised the current team. Shortly after, he tidied up some of the Roger’s era signings, and reduced the players out on loan from the club. Though he hesitated to sign anyone early on, this approach led the team to a top four position in the Premier League and a Champions League final in Klopp’s first full season as manager.
Klopp has famously built one of the best defences in football
since his reign at Liverpool began. He nurtured players such as Andrew Robertson (signed 2017, for a bargain £8 million) to become a mighty left-back and made Virgil van Dijk the most expensive defender in the world in 2018.
These two changed Liverpool’s defence and with Alisson Becker in goal (the most expensive goalkeeper at that time, for £56 million) the influence from the back of the pitch has transformed Liverpool’s game.
Although this year the defence has been plagued with injuries, there is no denying Klopp’s acumen when identifying strong players for the back.
Who could Liverpool be targeting this summer?
There are three positions that are recognised by Sky Sports pundits
for where Liverpool need to focus for the upcoming transfer window. So, who could be in for a move to Anfield?
One tip for a new central defender in Merseyside is Ibrahima Konaté, from Leipzig.
The team also currently have Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke 04, with an option-to-buy clause should they choose to keep him after a promising start at the club.
However, it is expected that there will only be one defensive addition. Signing Konaté, a developed player, would mean Kabak would have to leave. As cutthroat as that decision making process would be for the Turkish player, this is the kind of hard-hitting action that Liverpool need to take to regain their edge on the pitch.
Midfield and Wijnaldum’s replacement
Georginio Wijnaldum has yet to sign a new contract with the Reds, and his current contract is due to expire in a few short weeks. With no signs of a renewal, the club are likely looking at a replacement.
Liverpool enquired about Pedro Goncalves back in January. As a versatile player who can manage the central midfield and handle himself on the wing - as well as scoring 14 goals in 15 games in the current season - Klopp is in discussions about potentially activating the Portuguese player’s £53 million release clause.
Yves Bissouma has also been linked with the club, as his style and form is very similar to that of Wijnaldum - the same can be said of young Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes, who may be in with a chance if Klopp wants to develop him into a stellar player, as he has done for others in the past.
The front line
Klopp will also be looking to the future for Liverpool’s attack, with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané not performing to their expected standard. Both are getting ‘older’ (in football terms) to play their position on the pitch, paired with injuries throughout this season, so the front line will be a focus this summer.
A smart move for the Reds would be to replicate their Jota signing, with a man who can play all three front positions. There have been strong links of bringing in Raphinha from Leeds United, but his fee would be significant. Another tipped for this role is Kylian Mbappe, as his future in Paris is reportedly being debated amongst Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Who would Liverpool want to sell?
As mentioned, Wijnaldum’s contract is up in the summer and with no sign of a new one, it looks like he may be departing from Anfield. In the midst of injuries there are a few other players that may be packing their bags, but what do the fans think?
The Liverpool Echo surveyed fans
about who they wanted to keep and cut loose - and injuries are playing a part in their opinions. Both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Matip have frequently been on the treatment table, and over half of the surveyed fans wouldn’t mind them leaving. Considering Matip came to Liverpool for free, selling him on could be an excellent bit of business from Klopp.
Another face that hasn’t seen much of the pitch in the last season is left-back Kostas Tsimikas. If Klopp’s already strong defence returns from injuries, it could leave the Greek player vulnerable when it comes to transfer time.
With difficult decisions to be made off the pitch about where to bolster their squad, Klopp and his right-hand man, Michael Edwards, will have a busy summer of buying and selling on their hands to get the Reds back to their recent glory. However, this is a very achievable and realistic prospect if Klopp makes the right decisions.
Written by Alan Spencer