Early pre-season games are always an odd mix of familiar faces and the unknown, especially in a year with a major summer tournament. Over the weeks, the squad will begin to take shape, and there may even be a couple of unexpected surprises along the way, youth and fringe players who stand out and earn a first team role.
There will also, though, be those who don’t quite make the cut. Who show promise but due to squad size and available games would struggle to see the pitch—and maybe even the matchday squad—if they stayed. Some, especially some of the youngsters, will be leaving on loan in the coming weeks. Others will be leaving more permanently. The question isn’t if, it’s who.
"In the end we may have to make decisions because today we had 20," Jürgen Klopp said following the match. "We had three or four at home and 14 away, so that’s 38 and too much. We have to make a few decisions, but each club that takes a player from us can be sure he has had two or three weeks of hard and intensive training in his legs and will be as fit as possible."
Already we know there is no room for Mario Balotelli, one of those left home last night. Martin Sktrel is likely to leave for Fenerbahce shortly. An offer for Jordon Ibe has been accepted. The fate of the likes of Tiago Ilori and Andre Wisdom, most believe, has already been determined to be away from the club. Others, like Lazar Markovic, will have to fight hard to avoid that outcome.
Without Europe, Liverpool have far too big a squad. Even with it they would need to trim at it—and that’s with, at a minimum, another signing at left back and one in central midfield expected in the coming weeks. Plus there will be some, perhaps including yesterday’s impressive Ovie Ejaria, who will earn minor first team roles and make the fight for space even harder.
Some other clubs, then, will be getting Jürgen Klopp’s fit castoffs and not-quites and maybe-for-the-futures in the coming weeks. Perhaps the most interesting part of it all will be seeing how Klopp’s opinion of the options he has lines up with the fans’.