Europe Conquered, What's Next for Liverpool

Europe Conquered, What's Next for Liverpool

At the final whistle, Jordan Henderson collapsed onto his knees. Tears in his eyes, he runs over to his father and gave him the largest hug of the night. That one embrace encapsulates everything about the sport, the past 90 minutes, and Henderson’s journey going full circle.

 Jordan Henderson was in tears as he hugged his father Brian after the Champions League final in Madrid
Image: Digital Sport

At 21, he was labelled as an expensive flop after moving to Anfield from Sunderland in 2011.

In 2012, he rejected the idea of being traded to Fulham for Clint Dempsey.

In 2019, he was something else.

“Jordan Henderson is the captain of the 2019 Champions League winners. That is satisfying,” said Jurgen Klopp.

Henderson, together with Liverpool, conquered the continent. Beating the very best en route to their sixth European title, Klopp kept the promise he made four years ago.

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Klopp lifting the trophy with his team

“I don’t want to say we have to wait for 20 years but when I sit here in four years, I’m pretty sure we will have won a title,” Klopp said during his unveiling as the manager for Liverpool in October 2015.

Liverpool was placed 10th in the league at that time, and has been on a slump, struggling to qualify for Europe’s premier competition in the previous few seasons.

The German awakened a once-legendary entity from its deep slumber, raised a collective’s belief and now he is finally lifting the ‘Big Ears’ trophy, the one that has eluded him twice; Once with Borussia Dortmund in 2013, and the other at last year’s defeat to Madrid at Kiev. Third time is definitely the charm for the 51-year-old.

What’s next for Liverpool?

Keeping Klopp seems to be the first key component, as other teams are already eyeing him.

“I want nothing more than to see Klopp come to Bayern one day, it would be a good fit,” said Franz Beckenbauer, who won five German titles with Bayern Munich as player and coach.

Klopp has three years remaining on his six-year, £7 million per annum contract that he signed during his first summer in 2016, but Fenway Sports Group will look to secure the man who has transformed the club’s fortunes and give him a longer deal. The projected salary raise is to £11 million for Klopp and an extension for him to further build a dynasty for the club.

Tying down contracts

More achievements continue to be acknowledged by the world as UEFA released the team of the season.

With a panel including David Moyes, Raul, Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez, six of Liverpool’s best made the team.

Alisson Becker between the sticks, and an obvious selection of three defenders in Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Georgino Wijnaldum’s performance in the last three matches warranted him a slot in the midfield while Sadio Mane’s immense contribution in the journey stamps him as a guaranteed selection.

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Alisson was named man of the match

Alisson was the man of the match, and is the first keeper since Julio Cesar in 2010 to keep a clean sheet in the Champions League finals.

Most of the starting roster has contracts that tie them down beyond 2021, with the exception of a recent cult hero – Divock Origi.

Klopp has been impressed by both his attitude and his strike rate. He has finished the season as the club’s fourth top scorer despite limited opportunities in the early part of the campaign. The Belgian’s record in Europe has been remarkable, and he has also provided some crucial last minute goals against Everton and Newcastle.

With Daniel Sturridge likely to leave, and Rhian Brewster and Ben Woodburn both untested in the top flight of English football, Origi’s extension is inevitable. All that has plausibly made his case for a contract extension with the club.

Joel Matip looks to be the next player that should extend his stay at Anfield.

Matip came to Liverpool on a free transfer from Schalke 04 in 2016 and has been a reliable wall in his partnership with Van Dijk.

The 27-year-old has come a long way since the start of the campaign, having begun behind Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren in the pecking order at Anfield.

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Matip has been a reliable partner for Van Dijk

His adaptation is just as impressive; more of a covering defender by nature, Matip has evolved his playing style. Van Dijk’s reading of the game, superior speed and positioning has dictated a subtle shift in emphasis for the Cameroon international to a more aggressive style but without the rashness of Lovren or the inexperience tendencies of Gomez.

James Milner’s dedication to the club is nothing short of spectacular. Almost as a right-hand man for Klopp, Milner has played in virtually every position for the head-honcho.

“My meetings, maybe I’m not bad, but without Milly before the game in the dressing room, I don’t think it would work,” said Klopp, on Milner’s off-pitch contributions.

The former England international has played a key role in Liverpool’s revival although he is now 33-years-old and with still has a year left on his current deal, he will be around at least until 2021.

New Arrivals

Liverpool’s squad is not without any depth issues.

Considering the amount of Cup competitions they have next season, the minimum they have to fill is their departures.

Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Bogdan, Alberto Moreno and Connor Randall joins Daniel Sturridge on the departing list. Adam Lallana also looks to be on the move as Oxlade-Chamberlain makes his return to the squad.

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Lallana looks to end his stay with Chamberlain coming back to the squad

In addition to new contracts for key players, Klopp also wants cover and competition in a handful of positions, with left-back and striker a priority.

The return of Harry Wilson and Ryan Kent may give Klopp some breathing room in the front but they still lack defensive deputies.

In our previous story, we discussed the potential arrivals for Liverpool and the voids they need to plug.

Finances

Football finance blogger Swiss Ramble tweeted details of the Reds’ likely earnings, suggesting a total of €111 million (£98.5m) for winning the Champion’s League.

That’s €30m more than the Reds earned last year for finishing as runners-up, including €60m of prize money.

Additionally, Ramble concludes that the Reds have earned £251 million income from Premier League and Champions League revenues combined— “the first time a club has received more than a quarter of a billion pounds from this revenue stream.”

League Title

Of course, the main target for next season is to pry the domestic title away from the oil-lathered hands of Manchester City.

Liverpool’s bid for their first league title evaded them for 29 years and more if the squad still does not improve.

According to The Telegraph, Jurgen Klopp is happy with his team and is only looking to make a couple of ‘low-key signings’ in the coming months.

Frankly speaking, it might not be enough to compete with City, especially in depth.

With academy graduates coming out of the ranks and their meteoric rise, the future is bright at Anfield.

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