Liverpool headed into the summer knowing they had a squad that, on their day, could compete with any club in the world. On their day, Liverpool’s best could beat anyone in England and, probably, anyone on the continent. The problem was depth. The problem was what happened mid-season when injuries and fatigue caught up.
That meant needing to turn a top quality starting eleven into a top quality matchday eighteen. It meant signing a starting-calibre wide forward, central midfielder, and centre back along with a left back at least good enough to push James Milner at the position. So far, that left back and a starting-calibre wide forward have arrived.
When it comes to midfield and centre half, things haven’t gone as smoothly, with the club having to apologise for an improper approach for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk and their chase of Naby Keïta apparently having ended in failure. Klopp, though, insists the club have the will and financial clout to do what it takes.
“We are not afraid of big numbers at the club,” he told Goal. “We are not afraid to spend. But we have to do the right things, look at the right players, and negotiate with the right clubs. There’s two possibilities to strengthen the quad: one is to get better players, the other is to get players with similar quality to what you have.”
In left back Andrew Robertson, the belief is that Liverpool have brought in a player with similar quality to current left back James Milner and that the two will now fight for minutes. It’s not the flashy, big name signing some fans had hoped for, but then left back was never the top priority for Klopp heading into the summer.
More interesting is the other three positions, where the club appeared to be targeting players who would likely displace current Liverpool stars in Klopp’s first choice starting lineup. Klopp, though, doesn’t necessarily see targets like Salah and Van Dijk that way—which speaks to how highly he rates the squad already.
“It’s difficult to get better players,” Klopp noted about this summer’s recruitment goals. “The ones we have already are really good. If you get the same quality, then the age group that they’re in means that very big steps are possible for everyone—the new players and the ones already at the club. That’s what we’re looking for.”
It still doesn’t tell fans what might come next if the club’s pursuit of Keïta really is at its end, but even if it’s difficult, hopefully there is still a new centre back and midfielder on the way, a player good enough at least to compete for starting minutes with Liverpool’s best who showed last year that they could compete with anyone.
No matter who in the end arrives, that is necessary—that somebody that good does arrive. In both year one and two under Klopp, Liverpool struggled with injuries and exhaustion. Returning to the Champions League in his third year at the club, they cannot risk falling prey to the same failures that marred 2015-16 and 2016-17.