SO, how are we today?
I went to bed at 10.55pm, about five hours after we pretty much knew that nothing was going to happen but only five minutes before the unbearable “slamming shut” of the window, the point that Jim White’s transfer knowledge would bring about the surety that Liverpool had missed out on those last two signings, that the £175million shopping spree that the papers had promised that morning was definitely not going to happen.
Five minutes before we knew for a fact that Liverpool’s net spend would sit at the £35m mark. Five minutes before the #FSGout lads would hit Twitter in force, offended at the hash that the owners had made of spending money, delighted at the fact that their agenda hadn’t been contradicted. Not that I’d hear them; I’ve muted them all, they’re so bloody dull, so unremittingly negative. I’d wanted Liverpool to land Thomas Lemar and Virgil van Dijk just to make the moaning gets look sheepish. Not that they would have, they’d have found something new to complain about within minutes.
Look, I’m as upset about not signing van Dijk as anybody else; I wanted him here, I expected him here, even after the very public stepdown and apology I fully expected Liverpool to head straight back to Southampton with a bid just as soon as anybody else opened the bidding. Nobody else opened the bidding. And if the club had opened the bidding? After saying they wouldn’t? After saying they had ended all interest? Transfer ban. How’s that sound? You all cool with that as a concept? No, me neither.
The big Dutch lad would have made a hell of a difference to Liverpool’s back four; calm, assured, able to step up with the ball, providing the number six position with the chance to sit further up the pitch, pushing everybody else further up the pitch, he’d have been great. And still might be. In January. Or next summer. Do you really think Liverpool won’t go back in later? For the moment, let’s trust the back four that’s kept seven clean sheets in the last nine league games to do their job.
But that’s all I’m disappointed in. Lemar would have been nice but Lemar would have been a bonus. Let’s put some perspective into this, shall we?
We’ve known since the end of the season that Jürgen Klopp wanted to sign five players. And we knew that four of those players had very specific names:
- Virgil van Dijk
- Mohamed Salah
- Naby Keita
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
We also knew that he wanted a left back and that he wanted to be in the conversation about Kylian Mbappe.
Van Dijk. Jürgen didn’t want a centre back. He’s got centre backs. He wanted van Dijk. And nobody else. He was that specific. The fact that the owners haven’t bought a big lad who can head the ball a long way isn’t a comment on the owners, it’s a comment on the fact that Jürgen wanted van Dijk. For whatever reason, and we’ll never know the full story, that didn’t happen. So the boss isn’t going to settle for second best. Deal with that fact.
Salah. I’m in love with Salah. I know people who think that Nemanja Matic will be the most influential, most important signing of the summer, what with him freeing Paul Pogba up to make the impact that Manchester United thought he’d make last summer, but I’m not having that. Salah, with that electric, raw pace meaning that opposition back fours now have two of the fastest lads on the planet running at them at the same bloody time and with his wonderful, beautiful, ability to just appear at the back post at exactly the right time to nod the ball home, Salah is the most influential, most important signing of the summer.
Keita. Yes, I’d like him this summer as well but that was never going to happen so Liverpool have done what big European clubs do; they’ve sorted him now for next year. And that’s a million times better than not sorting him for next year because another year of him developing in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League is another year where Bayern Munich or Barcelona start paying more attention. And the whole thing is worth it for the possibly wildly apocryphal tale of Barca ringing RB Leipzig to bid only to be told that he’s in Wilmslow having a medical. I love the idea of the Catalan club trying to figure out where Wilmslow is.
Oxlade-Chamberlain. Come on, the lad turned down £60,000 a week more at Arsenal and £100,000 a week more at Chelsea to come and play for us, how could you not be in love with him? Klopp wants him, he remembers facing him with Borussia Dortmund and knowing what he could do. He’s going to give Liverpool options all over the pitch; he can fit in across the midfield three, on either flank or at either wing-back position. Drop your cynicism, we’re about to see the player The Reds tried to sign six years ago.
Add to that Andy Robertson who, on the basis of one game, looks the most capable, most threatening (to others, not to themselves for a change) left back Liverpool have had in a very long time and Dominic Solanke who has appeared so capable, so ready that the club have been willing to send Divock Origi out on loan and ask yourself, do you really think The Reds haven’t strengthened?
Three goalkeepers vying for the same slot? I’m having that.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Nathaniel Clyne, Robertson, Alberto Moreno, James Milner and Joe Gomez as full-back options? Yeah, sound, best lineup for a long time.
A midfield to be taken from Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chambo, Milner, Marko Grujic, Adam Lallana and, crucially, still, Philippe Coutinho? Eight lads for three positions? Are you really complaining?
A front three from Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Salah, Daniel Sturridge, Solanke with Coutinho, Lallana and Chamberlain all more than able to fit in there? Is there really anybody else with that level of choice? Don’t kid yourself. And remember this: all four of Liverpool’s front three scored against Arsenal. As maths goes, that’s mental, that’s magnificent.
Have Liverpool’s incomings improved on their outgoings of Origi, Kevin Stewart, Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva? Yes. No two ways. The squad is stronger. Have the club missed out on targets? Yes. Has anybody else missed out on targets? United didn’t get Ivan Perisic, Tottenham Hotspur haven’t exactly expanded, Everton couldn’t find a forward in all of world football, Chelsea missed out on pretty much everybody they could think of, to the point where Ross Barkley changed his mind in the middle of a medical and Arsenal? Arsenal have fallen apart in a quite glorious manner.
Liverpool are stronger, faster, better. You saw them against Hoffenheim, you saw them against Arsenal, what’s the problem? The future’s beautiful, the future’s ours.
You know what’s coming, don’t you? We’re going to win the league.
Up the champions elect Reds.
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