Within the next three months, Jurgen Klopp’s biggest challenge as the Liverpool manager lies ahead.
The summer transfer window: a titanic test in which the Liverpool faithful will put all their trust in his sharp eye, one that is renowned for taking unknown talent and crafting them into world class players. A preseason that is so significant, its outcome will greatly impact the season to come.
After the Reds chased glory throughout the 2015/16 season, to come out empty handed is heart wrenching; experiencing it first-hand makes this feel an understatement. Reaching two finals in the same year is some achievement for Klopp’s men, especially as they’ve accomplished it through a major transition.
A Capital One Cup final, against England’s wealthiest club, Manchester City, 120 minutes of football, the score still firmly in the balance at 1-1and a penalty shoot-out that left us hurting, Daniel Sturridge was brought to tears. Defeat.
A short, yet hard fought, three months later and Liverpool were in their second final of the season. A European Final. As a club, we hadn’t been in a European final for nine lengthy years. This was our time. Or so we thought, it turned out after a semi-decent first half performance and a top-class finish from none other than Daniel Sturridge, our hopes and dreams would be shattered.
A shambolic performance in the second half broke hearts all across the world as Sevilla, the already two times, back to back champions were determined and they exploited our weak points. It finished 1-3, there was no Istanbul-esque comeback; it was our collapse.
A couple months later and the pain, the wound, it still feels raw. However, as our iconic song goes ‘at the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky’, there are positives. Under our saviour (hyperbolic, I know) we have a bright future. The summer window looks a long winded one, but hopefully, one filled with success.
With other English clubs spending big before the window has even opened, there is an aura of optimism. Man City have brought in İlkay Gündoğan, Arsenal – Granit Xhaka, players of a high calibre like this are not on Klopp’s shopping list. But who is?
Obviously, as the transfer window unfolds, targets will be linked and players will be bought.
As a man that’s not in a position to access inside information and Klopp seemingly putting a stop to all leaks from the club, real transfer targets are unknown.
What I have instead, are the positions I feel need attention.
Liverpool have already addressed the main issue here. Goalkeeper. Klopp identified Mainz youngster Loris Karius as the man to lead the back line and take the starting position from Simon Mignolet. Brought in for £4.7m, this is a true bargain.
Another centre-back could ideally be purchased but with the free transfer of Joel Matip and a solid showing from duo Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho it may not be necessary.
Left-back has to be under scrutiny. A catastrophic performance by Alberto Moreno in the Europa League Final has put his place well and truly in the spotlight. This has to be on Klopp’s agenda as he looks to stabilise what has been a shaky back line.
The midfield last season has managed. That is the extent of the praise I will give it on a whole. Many times last season, it lacked creativity. There was no flair. Emre Can needs a baller by his side, someone who’s willing to put their neck on the line and try something. This position is not urgent but would be a pleasant sighting.
The wing – Liverpool had no true wide players (bar youngsters Jordan Ibe and Sheyi Ojo). If a team set up to block the middle of the park, we were stuck, nobody could drag the ball wide with pace and place a beautiful cross on to the head of ‘super sub’ Christian Benteke, or ‘Big Div’ in Divock Origi. This would be a good addition, but let’s not forget the return of Lazar Markovic.
Attacking Midfield, a position that definitely does not need improvement; we are overflowing with talent here – Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana.
As exciting as a new 20 goal a season striker would be, with prolific frontman Daniel Sturridge (however injury prone he may be), rough diamond Divock Origi, soldier Danny Ings and, if necessary, false nine, Roberto Firmino, we are well stocked in this category. Without Europe, squad depth is less than necessary and with our focus and attention on the Premier League and achieving that spot in the top four, goals should not be our problem next season.