Liverpool’s success over the past two domestic seasons has been undeniable, with a Champions League Trophy and a Premier League Title to their name. However, the Reds currently sit 6th place in the league, and a devastating 13 points off Manchester City who sit top of the tree with a game in hand.
Virgil Van Dijk, the Dutch phenomenon who joined the Reds from Southampton in January 2018 for 75 Million Pounds, has arguably been the best signing Anfield has seen in recent decades. Many Liverpool fans deem their turn of form coming from Van Dijk’s injury in the Merseyside Derby when Jordan Pickford came flying out and whipped out the centre half which evidently left him side-lined until the end of the 2020/21 campaign. To add to the anger of the Liverpool faithful, Pickford was left with no punishment from the resulting tackle. Although this injury has been considered to cause the collapse of Liverpool’s season, this could be regarded as nonsense because with Van Dijk’s presence, Aston Villa still notably put seven past Jurgen Klopp’s side at Villas park in a 7-2 embarrassment, so it leaves the question, would Liverpool be back to their best if the injury to Van Dijk did not happen?
Although it is argued from rival fans that, ‘all teams suffer injuries’, this season for Klopp has been injury riddled from the get-go. The current injury lists stands at; Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Diogo Jota, Naby Keita, Fabinho, James Milner, Divok Origi, and Ben Davies. With Trent Alexander Arnold and Alison also missing large periods in the earlier stages of the season, surely Liverpool’s injury woes have been a huge factor in the decline in form for Klopp’s side?
Since becoming Liverpool manager in October 2015, Jurgen Klopp has made his feelings known about the vast number of games that the players must partake in throughout the course of a calendar year. With Liverpool often reaching the final stages of the Champions League, the Fa Cup, the Carabao Cup, and competing until the later stages of the Premier League season, Klopp’s frustration is somewhat understandable as his side will have to play considerably more games than more than half of the other teams in the Premier League. In Germany, where Klopp successfully managed Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga Titles, there was a winter break period of two-weeks over Christmas, to give the players a chance to re-charge and switch of from the intensity that is constantly required throughout the course of the season. Despite Klopp’s frustration, it could be deemed that Liverpool’s great success over the previous two campaign’s, is due to the lack of injuries, especially to the infamous front three, with Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamad Salah barely missing a game. The lack of rotation has certainly proved dividends in terms of short-term success, but have the players reached the end of their fuses, which has consequently led to injury throughout the team?
Mohamad Salah, Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino have formed one of the most feared front threes in World Football with a combined goal tally of over 250 between them. Due to their great success and connection on the field, it has been difficult for Klopp to bring in any player to compete because they know they know that they will be no more than a rotation player, and they will only feature from the start if one of the starting three is injured. Divok Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri were both brought in to test the front three but were both signings with no real intention to break into the starting team in the big games. Klopp only played one of the duo when the front three were injured or deemed not fit to play, which is simply down to him not trusting them on the level that he does the starters, understandable of course because of the immense goal scoring record that they obtain. Diogo Jota was brought in prior to this season and looked to break into the starting XI before unfortunately getting injured. The lack of quality in depth in all areas of the pitch at Anfield meant that the starting XI has very rarely changed over the past two seasons, so arguably the right players have not been brought in, to allow rotation which has had a knock on effect on the injury crisis that is now present.
This Summer transfer window could see a big name join Liverpool and re-vitalise the success that Klopp has built. Rumours of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Braut Haaland joining the Reds have been running rife across world football but time will tell if the Liverpool bank will be broken in the summer.