Their strikers can score, Gomez is rated by Klopp and the return of Luis – looking at what you may have forgotten
Not even 40 days and 40 nights have passed since the Basel downpour, yet so much has been forgotten.
Perhaps it is wilful amnesia. The final memories of 2015-16 involved Jurgen Klopp walking down the steps inside St-Jakob Park, another runners-up medal in hand, to console his crestfallen squad. The Europa League final defeat to Sevilla which marked the end of Klopp’s first campaign also marked a short-term break-up between fans and football. A lover’s tiff, if you will.
But with Euro 2016 over the halfway stage, the longing for Liverpool has returned. The first pre-season game comes a week on Friday, against Tranmere.
Uncertainty surrounds the upcoming season – Mamadou Sakho’s pending UEFA fate a prime example – but a few things are known: Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino will be crucial to the Reds, as will the development of Emre Can. Joel Matip and Loris Karius will be expected to add something lacking to the squad, while keeping Daniel Sturridge fit and firing will be essential.
As the assessment and predictions begin, however, there are some things that might have been forgotten; some things that have slipped under the radar. Returning players from loan and injury; strengths, weaknesses, statistical trends.
Ahead of Liverpool returning to pre-season training next week, here are some things that have been forgotten over the long summer.
There’s already width at the club
The pursuit of Sadio Mane shows Klopp is keen to reinforce his attacking options, but it is still unclear where he will play, if signed. The Southampton man can operate either out wide or in the hole – primarily the latter last season – and would add a bit of pace and penetration to the line-up.
Liverpool already have some of that, though, in theory.The Reds looked light on the wing last season, particularly when Jordon Ibe toiled. As he struggled, however, the window of opportunity opened for Sheyi Ojo, who dutifully climbed through it. Of the Academy graduates Klopp called upon, the 19-year-old was arguably the most impressive, preferred to Ibe in the latter stages of the season.
Lazar Markovic also returns from loan after a season in Fenerbache. It appears Klopp will give the Serbian a chance to prove himself this summer, and he is also a player capable of using his pace in wide areas. Both he and Ojo need to develop this season, but both give the Reds an option.
Liverpool score goals
There is a clamour for Liverpool to sign a striker this summer, yet consider this: since the turn of the year, the Reds rattled in an average of 1.8 goals per game, and 41 goals in the Premier League. Once Klopp had tweaked the forward line to his liking, they put three past Manchester City and Villarreal, four beyond Everton and Borussia Dortmund, notched five against Norwich, and hit Aston Villa for six.
In Sturridge, Danny Ings and Divock Origi, the Reds have plenty of pace; Origi brings power, too. Firmino has also shown he is capable of playing in that advanced role while Christian Benteke, though likely to leave, is another potential option from the bench.
Granted, there are variables at play. Can Sturridge remain fit? Is Ings the same after his ACL tear? Will Origi’s ascendency continue as it did under Klopp in 2016? Despite that, there is reason for optimism over the club’s striking options.
Joe Gomez is liked by Klopp
It was a cruellest of blows for the young defender. Within days of Klopp’s arrival, he was struck down by an ACL tear when playing for England under-21s; his momentum, and positive start to life at Liverpool, halted.
Gomez had enjoyed some start to his Anfield career. Brendan Rodgers had put his faith in him over Alberto Moreno at left back; some leap, given the teenager had just signed from Charlton. Klopp’s appointment would have only heralded good things for him, too; Borussia Dortmund were interested in signing him when Klopp was in charge, and the German boss is a big admirer of him.
Now, he’s edging closer to a return, and revealed on Instagram he is ‘edging closer’, with the 19-year-old expected to take part in pre-season.
After the departure of Kolo Toure – and, in all likelihood, Martin Skrtel – Gomez remains a real option at centre-back, and can play full back as well. Though still young, his development under Klopp could be spectacular.
The return of Luis
Liverpool could be set to herald the return of Luis from La Liga.No, not that one.
Luis Alberto has very much become the forgotten man of Anfield. Signed for £7m, he played a total of 10 times for the Reds in his debut season, but was moved out to Deportivo on loan last summer.
He’s done so well there, he might have earned himself a future on Merseyside. The club could hand him a lifeline after the Spaniard impressed Klopp during his season in Spain. Though there has been interest from Deportivo, Villarreal and Sevilla – and though it is understood the Reds would likely consider a deal of around £4.6m – his relatively low wages mean Liverpool would keep him as a squad player if no offers were forthcoming.
He only showed flashes of what he could do in 2013-14. Perhaps the 23-year-old can become the latest to be galvanised by Klopp.
Cups galore – early and new
No reminder is needed of the Reds’ loss against Sevilla, nor its impact. No Champions League football, no European competition.
That means their League Cup campaign starts in the second round, on the week commencing August 21. At this stage of the competition, the draw is seeded – and Liverpool will be on the right side of the draw, potentially drawing a club from League One or League Two.
They also look likely to compete the EFL Trophy, with the Football League allowing Premier League Academy teams the chance to play. A trip to Wembley could beckon.