With only five games until the end of the season, transfer speculation will only intensify as we head into the summer transfer window. Jürgen Klopp will hope to seal a top four spot and Champions League football ahead of what will be his second active transfer window. Sporting director Michael Edwards will be under greater scrutiny than ever before, but talented players seem to have been identified to help Liverpool move forward.
Virgil van Dijk, Naby Keïta, and Julian Brandt are names that have been mentioned as the club's top targets in the summer along with Ryan Sessegnon and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo has confirmed the first three are players that Klopp wants to sign in the summer. It will be good to know that the manager feels confident about enticing players to Merseyside.
“Yes, I think it is,” Klopp replied when asked whether Liverpool would be a more attractive destination for players this summer. “I think that Liverpool at this moment is a really interesting project for players. So yes.
“We cannot say 100% we will play Champions League football next year. But it’s a young team, it’s a fantastic club, it’s a good situation where we really can see the progress of the team. So I would say together with Tottenham, the average age of the team is such that there’s still a lot to come.
“But actually not a lot of players told me last year: ‘I don’t want to be part of this, but let me see what happens next year and then we can talk again.’
“It’s more my feeling than anything I could say about what a player thinks. But the talks we’ve had so far are very positive. That doesn’t mean it will all work out, but they are really positive, and they all see the progress. That’s good.”
RB Leipzig's Keïta is 22, Bayer Leverkusen's Brandt turns 21 next month, and Southampton's Van Dijk is merely months away from his 26th birthday. These players are around the right age and profile for a Klopp team, but securing them will not be easy. If these three players arrived this summer, exciting times could be ahead.
Still, there are some questions that require clear answers. Pearce mentioned "the biggest spending spree in the club’s history" when players such as Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, and Lazar Marković will be part of a strategy to increase the club's transfer budget. FSG have supported their managers but have never sanctioned a net spend higher than around £40 million. Klopp, though, is the type of manager the owners have longed to put in place.
After a positive net spend this season combined with potential sales and Champions League revenues to add down the line, the "biggest spending spree" could be £45 million or £50 million net. It doesn't matter as long as the club get the players they want, but the three players mentioned could cost up to £100 million. Even if Liverpool received significant fees for outgoing players, that wouldn't come close to covering the ballpark figure of £100 million for those three players with other players sought. It may make sense, though, if Klopp was looking to add four or five players to strengthen the squad.
At this stage, there is promise with a return to the Champions League likely given the schedule and form of the club's rivals. As for summer signings and spending, it's a case of wait and see.