ASSESSING LIVERPOOL’S SQUAD: ATTACK
Next on the squad assessment series is the forward line. With the season two games old, we’ve already had a sneak peek into the kind of threat Liverpool’s new forward line pose. Do they offer enough quality and depth though? Let’s take a look.
You can check out the previous articles assessing the goalkeeping, defence and midfield departments.
The frontline is the area that saw the most surgery last summer. Sadio Mané left the club for Bayern Munich after a highly successful six year spell. Cult hero Divock Origi also brought his long association with Liverpool to an end, joining AC Milan on a free.
Cup specialist Takumi Minamino followed, with a £17m switch to French side AS Monaco. The Japanese international was Liverpool’s topscorer in both domestic Cup competitions last season, with Jürgen Klopp’s men going on to clinch both trophies.
All three left with the well wishes of everyone at the club, with the manager confident he could adequately replace their influence in the team. In came Uruguayan hitman Darwin Nunez, to the tune of a record breaking £85million (add-ons are included).
It was a statement signing that galvanised the entire fanbase. Coming in alongside the big man was Fulham sensation Fabio Carvalho. A move for the 19 year old was pursued late in January but couldn’t be finalised before the deadline.
An agreement was reached with Fulham in late April, avoiding the need for a lengthy tribunal. So three out, two in. Numbers wise it feels light, but what does each option bring to the table?
With Mané departing, it was a huge relief to see the Egyptian sign a new three year deal to extend his stay at the club. He’s finished as the Reds’ topscorer in each of his five seasons on Merseyside, clinching the Premier League Golden Boot on three occasions.
He has started the season in fine form, firmly putting the struggles of the last few months of the last campaign behind him. He’s genuinely elite and remains supremely fit. He rarely misses a game and can be relied on to lead the charge in another intense season.
The Colombian was a breath of fresh air when he joined late in the January transfer window from Porto. He gave the side a needed boost to reignite their title charge and an unprecedented quadruple chase.
He offers a top class option on the left wing. He has replaced Sadio Mané in that sense, with his January arrival sparking a positional change for the recently crowned African Footballer of the Year. Diaz is another who has a reliable fitness record.
He made 26 appearances for the club last season despite making his debut in February. If there’s one area he can improve though, it’s his goal return. He needs to turn those electric runs into tangible end product if he’s to fully replace Mané.
The big money signing has risen above ridicule and online trolls in pre-season to hit the ground running in a Liverpool shirt. 2 goals and an assist in just 70 minutes of action means he’s averaging a goal involvement every 23 minutes.
Away from the small sample stats, it’s undeniable the influence he’s had on the two games he’s featured in. He registered the most shots in both games despite being limited to half hour cameos. He seems to be delivering just what we expected, and long may it continue.
The Portuguese international has become a bit of a forgotten man this summer. He was off colour in the final weeks of the last campaign and unfortunately picked up a hamstring injury on international duty with Portugal.
His return to fitness was short-lived in pre-season as he aggravated the injury. He’s on the comeback trail once again, with a return pencilled in for a fortnight from now. With no pre-season, he might need a while to get back up to speed. He’s another excellent option.
The Brazilian endured an injury plagued season in the last campaign. He’s had a full pre-season schedule and has actually begun the season as first choice (with Darwin being eased in). That won’t continue for long as Bobby has become a bit of a squad player in recent seasons.
That’s no slight on him either, it just goes to show just how strong Liverpool’s recruitment has been over the years. There might even be a positional change ahead if the manager opts to utilise a 4-2-3-1 formation. He might no longer be first choice but he remains an important figure.
Fabio Carvalho and Harvey Elliott
The two youngsters offer further depth in attack; with Carvalho slotting in on the left wing and Harvey covering Salah on the right. Their versatility is an added bonus as they can both play in midfield. Academy youngster Kaide Gordon shouldn’t be forgotten either.
The 17 year old netted his first professional goal last season and was trusted to start away at the Emirates in the League Cup semi final. He’s endured rotten luck with injuries over the summer but will be aiming to continue his development once fit.
The attack looks alright at the minute. The key players in the department have an excellent fitness record. Touchwood that remains true for the rest of the season. Should that be the case, the Reds won’t lack firepower. How can you, with Mo Salah in your arsenal?