Part 4: More Work to Do
If Liverpool are to close the gap on Manchester City in the league and make another deep European run they’re going to have some work to do over the offseason. Ideally, what business do you want to see done this summer in the transfer market—and do you believe any current youth or fringe players are ready to step up to fill a role that would otherwise require new signings?
The most glaring problem, especially after the injury to Ox, was our tragic lack of depth, power, and creativity in the midfield. Keita and Fabinho are already huge improvements in that area, and all the credit in the world needs to be given to the recruiting team for the work they do getting the players that Kloppo needs for his system.
The next worry is in attacking depth, and that looks like an area that should be sorted soon as well. Although I’d argue that we didn’t necessarily miss Coutinho’s on-field talents—and we certainly didn’t miss the off-field antics surrounding his transfer—we did miss a top-quality player to fill in and help rotate the front three. If Salah, Mane, or Firmino had been injured down the stretch, our Champions League run likely would have ended much sooner and it would have put our Top 4 hopes in doubt.
Finally, I’d like another centre back and possibly another goalkeeper—though I worry about overspending for marginal improvement in this area. As for fringe/youth players, it’s going to be hard to break into this side, and that’s a good thing. Woodburn, Brewster, Wilson, and Grujic will most likely get chances in cup competitions—if they aren’t shipped out on loan. If one of them does break through though, as Alexander-Arnold did, it will be because they took an unexpected opportunity and earned their place.
Well, we’ve already brought in Fabinho in a shock move and there are rumblings at least one more deal will be closed and announced before the week is out, so things could look very different shortly. I’d still like at least one more CM, ideally an attacking one, so the pursuit of Nabil Fekir is welcomed by me. Beyond that, I suppose an attacker that could rotate with Mane and Salah would be fantastic.
I know it’s likely folly, but I’m not one of the ones calling for another GK. If Simon leaves, then I’m okay with signing one, but I don’t think there’s a real need for LFC land one of the big names—it’s just not a priority. As for the need to fill out the squad beyond that, I’d love to see at least one of Ben Woodburn or Harry Wilson make the jump up to regular first team minutes. Maybe that would mean we don’t need another attacker on the wing which would be great. But I also think it’s expecting too much for these youth to instantly be the ones to count on when giving Mane or Salah a breather.
Either way, the future looks bright if we do end up with the players to run out Fekir-Fabinho-Keita behind Mane-Firmino-Salah. That’s a lineup that could conceivably burst into flames like NBA Jam players brought to life.
I’m interested in the goalkeeping situation, mostly. The club seem to be expertly taking care of the midfield necessities as we speak so that feels nearly settled while all the good drama is over in goalkeeper rumours.
Loris Karius still has my support. And it’s not a sure thing but history tells me Klopp isn’t just going to wash his hands of him either. It’s Simon Mignolet who will likely be on the way out this summer, looking for minutes. And I think Klopp will bring in someone to really compete with Karius for the role instead of a clear, and very expensive, number one. But either way it’ll be a fun new face so whatever they decide is fine.
Additionally, I don’t know what Ragnar Klavan’s intended shelf life was but I think it just might be sometime around now. And Joe Gomez is ready to step up and compete with Joel Matip for the number three CB position. Give him the job.
Liverpool’s main need is to beef up their midfield, which it looks like they’re doing. By the end of the season Henderson, Wijnaldum, and Milner were hanging on by a wing and a prayer. The loss of Coutinho was never covered. Plus now they’re likely losing Can as well, and Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t return until the new year. And loathe as I am to admit it as I’ve joined the James Milner Ultras, Klopp will have to start thinking about life without him in the near future. Naby Keita and Fabinho are a great start, but we need at least one more player who can compete for a place in the middle of the pitch—though failing that I’d be interested seeing Alexander-Arnold pushed forward more next season now that Nathaniel Clyne is back.
I’d also like to see a world class goalkeeper brought in to take up the mantle, but I don’t know if they’re actually considering that in this window. Meanwhile, Solanke and Ings weren’t good enough back up for our front three players. The transfer committee needs to bring in an attacker that Klopp trusts. I’d love for Ben Woodburn to get a shot with the team, but he’s too young to count on him filling that role just yet.
I’m definitely going to join the club and say we need more quality depth off the bench. Banking on the kids is nice and all, and has paid off in the exception that is Trent Alexander-Arnold, but I’m riddled with anxiety anytime we have to shift from our tried and true XI. Other top clubs can do it because their squad players match the quality of the starting eleven, full stop. At least it looks like we’re off to a good start with Fabinho and Keita for the midfield, and thank god we have someone like James Milner—criminally underappreciated and happy to just work from wherever.
Beyond midfield, though, we need to have more lethal and dependable attackers on the bench. Much as I do like Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke, god forbid Bobby or Salah get injured and we have to put one of them in for an extended run. They unfortunately just don’t stack up, and I don’t know how many more chances Danny Ings in particular can get.
In a perfect world, I’d see us shore up every attacking position we can because that’s where we’re really most vulnerable. We’ve seen now that one terrible tackle on Salah means we can’t hang anymore. That’s not great.
Let me just say, with respect to any incoming transfers this summer, that after the way the club have hit in recent years I am petrified of the term “reversion to the mean.”
Otherwise, I might be in the minority here, but I’m actually way more interested in seeing who leaves the club this summer than who arrives. There are so many question marks around some of the players, and I don’t think we’ve really seen Klopp wield the scalpel at Liverpool with the same ruthlessness he did at times with Borussia Dortmund.