STATE OF LIVERPOOL’S SQUAD AFTER A QUIET TRANSFER WINDOW
The transfer window ‘slammed shut’ last night, with nothing more than a few loans for youngsters at Liverpool. With the club getting their only incoming done early, it was always unlikely they will be drawn into deadline day madness. Bar emergency moves for centre backs on previous deadline days, Liverpool usually stay away from the drama.
The club usually plans it’s windows months and even years ahead of time and they obviously feel Ibrahima Konate was the only deal they could pull the trigger on. After losing Wijnaldum and Shaqiri, the club kept hold of Neco Williams and Nathaniel Phillips as they didn’t receive any suitable bids for the duo. We’ll quickly run through the squad that will now be at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal till at least winter.
1. Alisson Becker
2. Caoimhin Kelleher
3. Adrian San Miguel
Alll three goalkeepers signed new contracts over the summer. Adrian’s took many by surprise but he’s third choice and remains a good presence in the dressing room by all accounts. Kelleher will stay as second choice, coming in for Cup games whilst Alisson Becker remains the man with the gloves. He’s started the season strongly and will look to continue in that vein.
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
2. Andy Robertson
3. Neco Williams
4. Kostas Tsimikas
Trent Alexander-Arnold is the most important player in the Liverpool squad, not only because he’s the main creative outlet, but also because he’s the one player who cannot be replaced like for like. He is more than a right back, more like the playmaker of the team. As such, anytime Neco steps in for him it feels like a huge drop off.
Neco will hope to show he’s improved and should get his chance against Norwich in the Carabao Cup after missing all three matchday squads so far. Trent on the other hand, has started the season in terrific form and has created the most chances in the Premier League. Missing the Euros seems to have done him the world of good as he came back looking fresh and buff.
On the left, Tsimikas has already benefited from an injury and has appeared in all three games so far. He has played very well and earned the trust of the manager. With three games every week for the foreseeable, Tsimikas can expect to get even more game time to reduce the load on Robbo. Whether Neco has or can earn similar trust remains to be seen.
1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Joel Matip
3. Joe Gomez
4. Ibrahima Konaté
5. Nathaniel Phillips
The area that saw the club suffer the most was the only area that saw an incoming, with ‘Ibou’ joining from RB Leipzig to the tune of £36million. As it turns out, he’s yet to even make his debut, with the returning duo of Van Dijk and Matip continuing their mean partnership in the heart of defence. Two clean sheets from three and no goals conceded from open play is an excellent return.
The manager has stated that it makes no sense to play Virgil three times a week after so long out, so Ibou and Gomez can both expect to make more appearances after the international break. With the quality in reserve, rotation shouldn’t see much of a drop in quality. With Nathaniel Phillips staying too, the sight of Fabinho lining up at the back is one we should go without seeing.
1. Fabinho Tavares
2. Jordan Henderson
3. Naby Keita
4. Thiago Alcantara
5. Harvey Elliott
6. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
7. James Milner
8. Curtis Jones
It looks like Wijnaldum out, Elliott in, in midfield. Eight options for three slots feels like good enough depth till you take a look at the injury records. There is still enough bodies in there to cover any injuries, and in young Harvey Elliott, Klopp may have just uncovered the next ‘big thing’. After making 43 appearances last season (mostly for Blackburn), the youngster seems set for even more games this season after appearing in all three so far.
He’s been a breath of fresh air and his positional change to midfield suits him to the ground. He should continue to improve as he gets used to this level. The manager has used seven of his eight options so far, with fellow youngster Curtis Jones, the only midfielder yet to appear. Midfield is the most rotated part of Klopp’s team and with loads of quality options, should remain so throughout the season.
Also, with Keita and Ox in the last two years of their deals and playing for new contracts, who’s to say they don’t stay fit for longer than they’ve managed over the years? Not to mention, they have actually quietly stayed fit all year. The trio, of Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago is one that is filled to the brim with quality and experience and offers the boss a wonderful array of options to choose from every game.
1. Mohamed Salah
2. Roberto Firmino
3. Sadio Mané
4. Diogo Jota
5. Takumi Minamino
6. Divock Origi
The one area that screamed out for an addition has been ignored by the club as Klopp goes into yet another season with Minamino and Origi as his backups. Diogo Jota came in from Wolves last summer and provided real competition for the front three, to the point he’s now almost usurped Firmino in the pecking order. It is now more of a front four, than a three, with Klopp picking between the four of them for every game.
That level of quality hasn’t been shown by Minamino since he joined the club, or by Origi since the Champions League win in 2019. That the club have failed to upgrade on them is a failure that may come back to haunt them. It was especially telling, that with time running out against ten man Chelsea, Minamino remained on the bench whilst Klopp turned to backup left back Tsimikas, to try and win the game.
A lack of trust from the manager or a lack of quality on Minamino’s part? Or both? Whatever it is, it will develop over the course of the season. With how thick and fast the games will come, there will be no choice than to use Divock (who hasn’t even appeared in a matchday squad this season) and Takumi. Whether they can make the step up to the levels required remains to be seen.
There is only so long Mane, Firmino and Salah can keep going. Bobby hasn’t been at his best consistently enough over the past two seasons, whilst Mané suffered what he referred to as the worst season of his career last time out. Will he get back to his best? It seemed so in the opening two games but that Chelsea performance was similar to a lot of his displays last season.
The club will hope Mohamed Salah especially can stay fit and on form. Same applies to all four of them but Mo has been topscorer for the club every single season since he signed so his importance can not be exaggerated. He is the talisman, the one they will rely on for 30 goals a season. He has an exceptional fitness record but so did Virgil before Pickford took him out.
With AFCON also taking place in January, the club will hope their star man isn’t burdened with too many games this season. If he breaks down, the club’s ambitions break down with him. Overall, the club is still in very good shape. Should injuries be kind to them, I’d still expect them to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League titles.
They have learnt from last season’s disaster at centre back and have gone with five senior centre backs instead of three. Is Neco Williams good enough to step in for Trent should the Scouser be out for a month? In midfield the return of Harvey Elliott has bolstered the ranks whilst in attack, the quality beyond Jota (the fourth attacker) leaves a lot to be desired.
In an ideal world, all these areas of weaknesses would have been looked at in the transfer market. But alas, we are where we are, and Jurgen Klopp is having to work more magic to keep this club challenging in the face of improving rivals.