So far, so good, it seems. There’s little to disagree with manager Jurgen Klopp’s transfer dealings so far. With some expert dealing – rarely said of Liverpool’s moneymen – the Reds are actually recouping large sums of money from the sale of several unwanted players, in turn giving Klopp even more room to manoeuvre in the market.
More Height & Competition In The Back 5
For the first time in a long while, it seems the Reds finally have two goalkeepers who can really have a go at the No.1 spot. For so long, the situation used to be one premier goalkeeper and a very average back-up – Pepe Reina and his long line of No.2s from Pandelli to Doni, Simon Mignolet with Jones and Bogdan. Now though, the signing of the Bundesliga’s second best goalkeeper (as voted by his peers) in Loris Karius has added real competition in goal alongside Belgium’s error-prone No.2.
In front of Karius and Mignolet, Klopp has smartly rejigged the defence. The two central defenders will be chosen among free signing Joel Matip, fan favourite Mamadou Sakho and recently reinvigorated Dejan Lovren. Behind them, youngster Joe Gomez and newly signed Estonian veteran Ragnar Klavan will push them for their places. Klavan’s no-nonsense style will be welcomed by the Anfield faithful, and signals Klopp’s intention to veer away from the error-ridden years of the previous manager – where playing out from the back was more important than actually defending well and clearing the ball into touch when necessary.
his height and no-nonsense approach will be useful for lfc’s fragile defence
Gomez and Klavan’s versatility is perhaps why Klopp could allow the temporary and permanent departures of specialist full-backs Jon Flanagan (to Burnley) and Brad Smith (to Bournemouth). With no European games, right-back Nathaniel Clyne, with his superb fitness levels and consistent displays, will likely play almost every minute of the upcoming campaign. Flanagan would have ideally been Clyne’s back-up, and is still a firm favourite of Klopp’s, having signed a new deal earlier this year, but he is at an age where he needs a long run of games, and a loan spell at Burnley could give him just that. Clyne’s deputy will then be Gomez, or even Conor Randall, who still has much room to develop and can do so under Klopp’s guidance.
Even if Klopp doesn’t sign a replacement for Smith and decides to keep full faith with Moreno, Klavan and Gomez could still come in for the Spaniard. Both central defenders’ ability to play left-back will give Klopp more options, possibly allowing the Reds to play with a purely defensive left-back for tougher away games against the top sides.
Also, their height and aerial ability will help the Reds better stand up to the bullying from stronger and rougher Premier League sides – a particular weakness of Liverpool in the last few seasons. Imagine Stoke or West Brom going up against a giant back four of Gomez, Matip, Sakho and Klavan.
Increasing Productivity Levels From Midfield
As it always is, the midfield options are where it gets interesting. Ahead of the back four, Emre Can will be looking to seriously push on after his breakthrough season and firmly establish himself as Klopp’s premier central midfielder for the foreseeable future, with Kevin Stewart looking like a really able deputy. One, or two (depending on formation), of skipper Jordan Henderson, James Milner, new signings Marko Grujic and Georgino Wijnaldum will give Klopp different options in the middle.
klopp will hope wijnaldum can add more goals from midfield
Replacing Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen with Grujic and Wijnaldum highlights Klopp’s desire for more goals from midfield, one that the Reds have lacked ever since skipper Steven Gerrard’s decline a few years ago and eventual departure last summer. Henderson, and to a lesser extent Milner, will have to up their productivity levels if they are to stay in the team.
Quality Back-Ups In A Quicker Attack
Just behind the main striker, the signing of Sadio Mane demonstrates Klopp’s desire for more pace up front – another area of weakness for the Reds in recent seasons. Divock Origi and Sheyi Ojo, perhaps even the fragile Daniel Sturridge, are really the only ones who really have enough pace to trouble opposition defenders.
Mane’s pace and more importantly his willingness to run beyond the main striker is a quality the likes of fellow attackers Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana lacks. This quartet, perhaps even arrival Wijnaldum, will be the main picks for the three behind the striker, while youngsters Sheyi Ojo and Ovie Ejaria, as well as the recently returned Lazar Markovic will provide able back-up.
mané adds much-needed pace to klopp’s attack
Mane’s signing also removes the need for Klopp to buy another striker, with the Senegalese, and Firmino, able to play up top, should a serious injury crisis strike specialist strikers Sturridge, Origi and Danny Ings.
The possible combinations behind the striker are endless. Whereas in the past the Reds could not rely on their offensive midfielders from the bench – think Victor Moses and Luis Alberto – the Reds now have around four to five offensive midfielders of somewhat similar quality fighting for a maximum of three places.
The majority of Liverpool fans are still waiting on a new left-back, to compete for and perhaps even take Moreno’s spot. Klopp still wants to sign a left-back, although it seems to be less of a priority lately. More important seems to be the need to continue to sell more deadwood like Mario Balotelli, Alberto and maybe even, unfortunately, long-serving Brazilian Lucas Leiva.
If the window was to shut right now, Klopp and Liverpool fans should be very pleased with the business done. Granted, there has been no high-profile, Mario Götze-esque signings, but Klopp has done his best to add more goals, more height, more physicality and stronger depth to his side. It will now turn to him and his coaching team’s ability to coax the best out of this smaller, more tight-knit, higher quality group of players.