As Liverpool returned to training this week with a pre-season camp in Austria, attention turns away from last season’s successes and instead to the immediate future. Despite in many fans’ eyes the perfect 2019/20 campaign, Liverpool, and Jurgen Klopp in particular will know they face a battle next term to retain their Premier League title. With the nearest challengers Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United all looking to strengthen in a bid to bridge the frankly Grand Canyon-sized gap the Reds opened up, what recruitment, if any do the champions need those summer if they are to go again.
With the season now just weeks away there is little time to make changes prior to its resumption, for Klopp’s men the season begins even earlier as they look to claim the first silverware of the campaign in the Community Shield contest with FA Cup winners Arsenal. However, there is still time to add to the already excellent options the German manager has at his disposal.
Whilst the Reds will be desperate to retain their hard-fought and long-awaited league title, the squad will also have an eye on a tilt at number seven in Europe, as well as a prolonged domestic cup run, something that has alluded them in recent seasons.
In order to even come close to achieving all of this, what would Liverpool’s perfect summer look like?
Having already bolstered the defensive options with the arrival of a natural understudy for Andy Robertson in Greek left-back Kostas Tsmimkas from Olympiacos, the Reds’ next priority may be a central defender following the departure of last seasons fourth choice Dejan Lovren.
Recent history and the noise coming out of the club would suggest Liverpool will not be spending big this window unless they raise funds through sales, something which seems unlikely. So despite being linked with big-name central defenders such as Diego Carlos from Sevilla, his £70 million asking price is far and away from the Reds planned summer spending, plus the paring of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk is not worthy of being separated. It is much more likely and important that we will see a solid option come in who is happy to be used fleetingly in the league whilst playing a prominent role in cup competitions.
Despite being blessed with central midfield options, a Thiago Alcantara shaped situation has emerged that simply can’t be ignored. The Bayern Munich man has expressed his desire to leave Bavaria with his sights set on flights to John Lennon Airport before a drive to Anfield. Whilst Klopp may not have entered the window in desperate need of a further centre midfielder when a player of the class of Thiago courts himself to you, it would almost be a sin to look the other way, his arrival would make up part of the perfect summer.
Outside of the signing of Thiago the mystery and uncertainty surrounding Gini Wijnaldum’s contract being solved would be a weight of plenty of people’s shoulders this summer. As it stands the Dutchman’s deal is set to expire next year and there has been no talks held between the player and the club.
At the top end of the field, it would be ludicrous to suggest the champions’ first-choice front three needed alteration. Rather the questions lie in the backups, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, and Xherdan Shaqiri make up the reinforcements, although Shaqiri’s recent time has been plagued by injury. These three could foreseeably remain in place as next men in line for next season, Minamino having arrived in January is sure to bide his time for an opportunity, whereas both Origi and Shaqiri could be candidates for a departure in search of more first-team football.
Should they stick around it seems unlikely the Reds will go hunting for additional options, although there is always the concern should one of the first-choice front three pick up a long term injury, are the understudies of the quality required.
That seems the realistic outcome, although ideally, Shaqiri would perhaps move on to pastures new and Liverpool would seek out a replacement, Ismaila Sarr has been linked to the champions from recently relegated Watford. Sarr has shown Liverpool his capabilities first hand as he was the man behind perhaps the worst performance of the Reds season as they were battered 3-0 at Vicarage Road, the Senegalese forward was sensational on the night.
Many people have suggested Liverpool should use their pulling power whilst it is at its peak, but Klopp is never likely to make wholesale changes or make huge transfers. Much more likely the German will trust who he has in place, tinker with the squad, as well as expecting more from relative newcomers Naby Keita and Takumi Minamino.
The champions have already said their goodbyes to Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana as they left for Zenit St Petersburg and Brighton respectively. Both of whom had to move on in order to see more first-team action having slipped increasingly down the pecking order in recent times.
The aforementioned duo of Shaqiri and Origi are the only other obvious questionable departures, both men have played and will most likely continue to play bit-part roles next season should they stick around. Origi especially as the younger of the two is a player who may seek pastures new in order to see more first-team action, although as it stands he remains a Red and in truth, somewhat of a cult hero owing to his big goals in big games.
There are bound to be loan deals ongoing for a host of young Reds, the likes of Ben Woodburn and Kamil Grabara look certain to depart on a temporary basis.
Question marks hang over highly-rated 20-year-old Rhian Brewster, the young striker spent the second half of last season with Swansea, scoring 10 in 20 matches. There are a cluster of clubs interested in his services for the entirety of next term, although the Reds hierarchy may just want to keep him around as backup and for cup competitions.
After gaining more first-team match experience towards the latter part of the 2019/20 season, the likes of Neco Williams, Curtis Jones, and Harvey Elliot will be looking forward to increased influence on matters next term. Williams has seemingly solved the conundrum of a natural understudy to Trent Alexander-Arnold, whilst Jones is a natural replacement in the same mould as Adam Lallana.
Other youngsters such as Ki Jana Hoever and Sepp Van Den Berg have seen little to no first-team action and whilst they are expected to stay at Anfield next season, it seems certain their match time will be confined to the junior ranks once more.
With Liverpool back in training and yet more valuable first-team exposure for the emerging talent, pre-season fixtures around the corner will provide Klopp and his staff a further opportunity to cast an eye over his younger squad members, and in particular Brewster – perhaps making decisions as to what next season has in store for them.
The Ideal Summer
- Additional centre-back cover to replace Lovren, ideally someone under 25 at under £20 million.
- More first-team exposure and development for the youngsters allowing them to develop.
- Thiago arrives for £25 million as to turn him down would be sacrilege.
- Sort out Gini Wijnaldums contract issues.
- Replace one of Shaqiri or Origi should either depart. Jadon Sancho stays at Borussia Dortmund allowing Liverpool to bring him to Anfield next summer.
What do you make of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!
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