Before Luis Suárez was sold to Barcelona for £65 million, Liverpool had politely visited Southampton to take Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to Anfield. Suárez was Liverpool's first sale of the summer, but Champions League football and some very good players brought great hope to making some excellent signings to help the club move forward.
Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, and Mamadou Sakho were all players who could shine in 2014/15. Alexis Sánchez was the top target and possessed the relentless quality that would have compensated for the loss of Suárez. It didn't happen, but what followed was the beginning of the end for Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool are in a similar place three years later, but Coutinho is likely to stay for 2017/18 under a decidedly superior manager.
This summer should see the departures of two players signed in Lazar Marković and Aberto Moreno that haven't quite worked out in Liverpool colours. Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli have already moved on, but the other four are set for important roles as we move past the early phase of the Jürgen Klopp era. That summer, Liverpool had an opportunity to build on a season where a thin squad exceeded expectations, and although this season's vintage hasn't matched the heights of a season that nearly brought the Premier League title, 76 points cannot be termed as a significantly inferior haul compared with the 84 collected in 2013/14.
Heading into the summer, Liverpool are still looking for a left back, a commanding centre back, and an exciting attacking player. Liverpool won't sign eight players this summer, can generate at least the same amount as 2014 by selling players that Klopp might, and can be confident of keeping star players. Moreover, the manager is confident about the club's ability to compete in the summer. So, things are a little different this summer.
Beating Middlesbrough tomorrow gives Liverpool an opportunity to show whether the club's apparently transparent approach to transfer targets is truly a sign of intent. Sunday might just be part of getting to know some of these names: Virgil van Dijk, Kalidou Koulibably, Ryan Sessegnon, Naby Keïta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Julian Brandt, Mohamed Salah, and Timo Werner. Expect the expected before entering a summer where the unexpected may dare to inspire us all to permanently discard the shackles of doubt.