Jurgen Klopp has formulated a team that is already almost unstoppable. With a deadly attacking trio and an impenetrable defense, they were unbeaten in the Premier League for the first half of the season until January when they fell to a revived Manchester City.
Anfield then welcomed Porto in the quarter-finals of the Champion’s League after Liverpool took down Bayern Munich in the knockout phase.
At the semi-finals, a second leg, come-from-behind 4-0 win at Anfield against La Liga champions Barcelona set them up for back-to-back Champions League finals – this time against Tottenham Hotspurs.
However, as demonstrated by their injury crisis in February and now at the end of their campaign in May, Liverpool’s squad is threadbare and do not possess the required depth and rotation to juggle between contending in the Premier League and Champions League.
Fabinho was dropped back to provide cover in the absence of a proper center back in the Champion’s League tie against Bayern after injuries to Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren.
James Milner played recurring roles in the left and right back positions when Andrew Robertson or Trent Alexander-Arnold sat out. Nevertheless, the Brazilian is a integral utility player who can operate in various roles with Milner also a player of similar qualities.
Should Liverpool want to put up a strong title challenge, they will need to at least match the squad depth of their rivals, Manchester City.
The Sky Blues boasts one of the deepest squads with stars such as Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundongan as bench players.
The inspirational German manager of the Reds has to start recruiting role players to provide sufficient cover for each position in order to compete on four fronts next season.
Looking at their position both financially and on the field, Liverpool is primed right now, to prise top players from other clubs.
Liverpool have only conceded 22 goals in the league this season, which ties with the best record in the Premier League and a major part of their defensive success is due to the arrival of Virgil van Djik and Alisson Becker.
Van Dijk’s performance at the back have warranted praise from pundits and opposition managers alike, and has propelled him to win the PFA Player of the Year award.
Liverpool needs someone who can match his talent at the back. Joel Matip has recently formed a reliable partnership with van Djik but he is far from the elite center back needed to compete at the highest level in Europe.
Joe Gomez has been hit with a long-term injury and Dejan Lovren has only played 13 matches in the league this season.
Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt has been on Liverpool’s radar in recent weeks. The 19-year-old club captain has a commanding presence at the back and has led Ajax in their demolition of Real Madrid in the Champion’s League.
De Ligt has been one of the club’s best performers this season and has become somewhat of a doyen when it comes to circulating the ball, which suits Liverpool’s possession style of play.
He also would be able to work well with van Djik, his compatriot in the Netherlands National team. Ajax was led by de Ligt to the Champions League semi-finals where they were stunned by a rejuvenated Spurs, narrowly missing out on the finals.
On paper, they could form one of the best center back pairings in Europe, but it all depends on whether de Ligt could be tempted to join his friend and compatriot Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona instead.
If Klopp fails to lure de Ligt to Anfield, then there are two other names that comes to mind that could be just as good; Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah and Roma’s Kostas Manolas.
At just 23 years old, Tah is one of the leading center backs in the German league with over 100 league appearances.
Currently the rock in defence for Leverkusen, his 6-foot-five frame is devastatingly imposing, even compared amongst the most robust of center backs.
Although he is not a household name, his performances caught the eye of Germany’s coach Joachim Low, who gave Tah his first international start in 2018. His ability to dribble and out muscle his opponents reminds us of a young Daniel Agger albeit with more potential and physical ability.
Manolas is one of the fastest defenders in the world. He is likened to a pit-bull for Roma and has the physical strength to compete with big center forwards.
His 6-foot-two stature allows him to speed past opponents in both offence and defence, and has relatively decent dribbling skills for a center back.
However, Manolas has a tendency to only move the ball sideways and completes only 87% of his 48 attempted passes per game. Although his passing is an issue, Manolas averages 1.2 tackles, two interceptions and two aerial duels per game. His strengths are reading plays and pace, which is imperative in this era of speed merchant strikers.
Branching out from central defence, Liverpool’s full backs have been a striker’s dream for the team’s forward players, with Jurgen Klopp instructing his full backs to push high up the pitch and provide quality crosses for them.
This has resulted in Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold racking up eight and six league assists respectively. But Liverpool can’t keep relying on these two to play every game as it could lead to injuries if they are overworked.
With Alberto Moreno looking for the exit door and Nathaniel Clyne unwilling to play second fiddle to Alexander-Arnold, the Reds will need to start looking for players in both full back positions.
At left back, Porto’s Alex Telles, 26, has been a revelation for them. Klopp would very much appreciate Telles for his attacking talents but his lack of defensive work is a problem.
His penchant for whipping crosses into attacking areas (averaging 3.4 crosses per 90 minutes) has already registered six league assists in the Liga NOS this season.
As a play-making defender, Telles’ addition to an offensive-minded Liverpool is perfect. His stamina and work rate would not doubt fit into Klopp’s gegenpressing system.
At right back, Telles’ old teammate and current Leicester City player Ricardo Pereira, is a viable option. The 25-year-old Portuguese is versatile and can also double up as a winger.
He has an all-rounded game, including commendable dribbling and passing ability. He recorded six assists this season and is a proven Premier League talent, only recently winning both Leicester City’s Player of the Season and their Players’ Player of the Season.
Liverpool’s attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohammed Salah are known to cause havoc for opposition defences throughout the season as Liverpool are currently the second highest scorers in the league.
Evidently, fatigue and injuries caught up with them as can be seen in Firmino’s and Salah’s absence in the Champions League semi-finals.
Divock Origi has saved the squad with his brace against Barcelona during the second leg at Anfield but to rely on an otherwise below par performer throughout the season would be foolish even for one as loyal to his players as Klopp.
Paulo Dybala, who is considered one of Europe’s top attackers, has been told that he can leave following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus.
He has found himself playing a lot less and in turn, scoring significantly less and that may hurt his chances of being called up for the Argentinean national team.
He may find Liverpool a more attractive option as the Reds have not yet replaced the creativity of Philippe Coutinho since he left for Barcelona.
Dybala could fill the void left by the Brazilian and bring back the spark in attacking midfield for a team that sometimes seemed lacking of ideas there throughout the season.
Dybala scored an impressive 26 goals in 46 appearances last season and the 25-year-old could do the same playing in a false nine or center forward role.
And speaking of forwards, Timo Werner is fast, just like his growing reputation as one of Germany’s rising stars.
The 23-year-old has everything you would want in an attacking player – pace, power and clinical finishing.
Werner registers at least three shots per game and already has 16 goals and seven assists in 29 league appearances, making him Red Bull Leipzig’s top scorer.
He has a similar playing style to Salah and Mane; making attacking runs forward, taking on defenders and most importantly, shooting whenever he can, which makes him a perfect option upfront for them.
With his current deal set to expire next summer, Timo Werner could be available for a cut price of £36 million. Werner has said in an interview that he would like to challenge himself in the Premier League and Liverpool could be a likely destination should he choose to do so.
And last on the list is PSV Eindhoven’s Hirving Lozano.
The Mexican international is an out-and-out explosive winger who has 17 goals and eight assists to his name this season in the Eredivisie.
Lozano would be the ideal rotation for either of Liverpool’s front three. He is usually deployed at the left wing due to his being right-footed, but has started in both right wing and as a central striker in the PSV uniform.
The 23-year-old’s shooting and crossing abilities has gained him a reputation as a deadly forward but what impresses is his work rate.
He was rated PSV’s highest pressing player using his speed and constant pressing when not in possession, forcing clearances from opposition keepers and defenders.
Lozano is highly reminiscent of a young Eden Hazard and has the potential to light the Premier League with his electrical runs.
As the season comes to a close, Klopp would no doubt have begun courting his next crop of players, if the quick signing of Fabinho immediately after last season’s Champion’s League Final heartbreak shows.
Expect to see some electric signings mixed with surprising ones. Rock and roll football? Apparently, it happens at Anfield both on season and off.
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