THIS week on The Anfield Wrap, we’ve been recording the summer transfer game.
Neil presents us with a list of names and prices for ins and outs, and we get to pretend to be Jürgen Klopp for a fleeting hour.
They’re good fun and always give an insight into where people are in terms of their view of the squad and how it can be improved. I have to say this year was the first where I had no real desire to do much either side, not even in a completely hypothetical sense.
There were the obvious outs I’d have done: Harry Wilson, Ben Woodburn, Loris Karius, Nat Phillips, Sheyi Ojo and Andy Lonergan (who was a surprising bone of contention). But when I pondered names like Rhian Brewster, Marko Grujic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi I couldn’t really make an impassioned case for wanting rid.
You can imagine my fume when there was an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ambush near the end, then.
Without giving the show away too much, the point remains I wasn’t sold on any major ins or outs for a second consecutive season, and it got me curious about what that says.
Take Oxlade-Chamberlain as an example. He might, at times, not have been as effective as you’d like this season, but would you really swap him for someone who doesn’t know the squad, the system and the buy in that’s required at Liverpool?
That’s the key to all this. This squad has grown together into Champions, it has finely tuned hours and hours of Melwood work in the shape of team meetings, rondos and pattern play to create a sheer unstoppable force.
Another way to flip that is to imagine what any opposition fan would give for one of Liverpool’s midfielders right now?
The stamp of excellence throughout the squad means these players would be a welcome addition to most because they’ve played under Klopp in this current environment. They come with the premium of being Champions and Premier League winners.
Interesting then, that the strongest link Liverpool has in the transfer market right now is Thiago Alcantara, a player steeped in the type of pedigree, application and seeming professionalism required to blend into the current crop.
Where Liverpool can improve is a rightful conversation we all should have – including the manager and his recruitment team. When discussing average ages of the squad on another video show this week (The Trends) we looked at the age gap from 17-24 in the squad. Not counting Brewster, there were five players.
The Reds could move to bolster this age range with domestic players the calibre of Dwight McNeil and Ismaila Sarr (20 and 22) for example, but the issue remains of when and where they play, and more importantly how long it takes them to adapt to this system and all it demands.
For all supporters may not want to hear it, a year around this squad every day for Curtis Jones, Neco Williams and Harvey Elliot could go on to save Liverpool millions in future.
When looking at the mountain of work facing the rest of the league in a very short period of time, Liverpool’s “problems” look much more appeasable.
How do Man City completely remould their squad while still fighting for the Champions League? How does Man United, Chelsea, Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal even begin to get players who are damaging the club off the wage bill and out of the door? Who knows what anyone is worth in this market?
Liverpool are back in training in less than two weeks. They’ll be physically decimated by Klopp’s pre-season regime before the Community Shield on August 29, still without an opponent as the FA Cup final is yet to be played.
There is chaos mostly everywhere you look in football right now, coupled with an enormous sense of the unknown to boot. Yet Anfield remains silent, the fireworks collected and the focus not lost.
This team is the one everyone wants to be and players want to be at. The club is right not to complicate such harmony when it doesn’t need to.
The transfer games will go on around us this summer and a big question will be looming over who’s ready come September.
Make no mistake, the Champions will be.
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I’d love to get insights/thoughts on Shaqiri’s situation — obviously he’s been impacted by a number of injuries, but when he’s played he always seems to have contributed quality and worked hard. As referenced on a recent TAW, other players have confidence in him and like playing with him.
I can only think that it’s his injury situation (and maybe attitude?) that’s preventing him from being in long terms plans; we’d struggle to get a like-for-like player at a similar price to his current value.
I think Liverpool should make 2 or 3 signings to keep the first 11 on its toes but also to ensure the drop off from the first 11 isnt as big as it is currently. Standing still for 2 seasons I think is the limit – 3 seasons would be a risk.
Areas we need: quality backup to front 3, a left back cover and then another option in midfield if we sell shaq. I’m not disrepectful of origi – but his level is a significant drop off – we need better. Not many signings needed but certainly strengthening
It’s a weird one. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – barring some dreadful run of injuries, this side is better than any other in the league and those coming through the ranks can offer much of the depth we need. We can win everything next season. And I love the fact that Klopp isn’t a classic chequebook manager.
*But* I always thought the old adage of “strengthen from a position of strength” was worth heeding. Dream situation? Do deals NOW that mean Sancho and Mbappe (?! Yes, yes, I know. Look why not, he’d love it and it’s silly season) arrive in 12 months time. Get Thiago and maybe a replacement for the Lov. And then we go again. Not every mega bucks deal done by united, city, chelsea et al will work out, but if they do snap up all the good stuff, there’s less for us if and when we go looking. Any world class player should be queuing up to be with us. It doesn’t mean they’re all suitable, but let’s have a look, yeah?
Great article, Dan!
I think Liverpool’s summer transfer business will be fairly conservative in light of the current COVID-19-impacted economy, and we won’t be competing with the likes of Chelsea and the Manchester clubs.
Interesting on the “Lonergan Contention”! In terms of the Goalkeepers, I think Karius will be moved on and if Lonergan is not renewed it leaves Alisson, Adrian and the two young keepers Grabara and Kelleher. I would like to see both youngsters go out on loan. The only way to see whether they are good enough is for them to get competitive games under their belt rather than U23 football,mixed in with the odd appearance on the bench or in the cups. Dean Henderson is the template – loans in League One with Shrewsbury before Sheffield United in the Championship and Premier League. If both young keepers do get loans, that would mean the possible need for a 3rd choice backup goalkeeper with Premier League experience. Perhaps the likes of Boruc or Begovic from relegated Bournemouth. Or keeping Lonergan..
The young players are going to be class but we need experienced cover at LB and up front, even if we bring players in on-loan that is fine until Coronavirus sorts itself out next year?
We don’t need much but we must not stand still, surely the club can see that?. Use the top youngsters and incoming players from their loan spells……….but we must not get complacent.
In terms of the attacking options, it feels like the Shaqiri and Origi projects have run their course for different reasons. I would look to move these two on and with the restricted transfer budget I would back up Salah, Firmino and Mane with Wilson, Brewster and Minamino.
In terms of additions, I would be looking to see if Willian fancied joining his Seleccao team mates Alisson, Fabinho and Firmino at a proper club. Willian is a proven Premier League performer and seems like a good fit for Klopp’s system and an excellent attacking option. He would be on a free but possibly wages over 3 years could be prohibitive, but worth a conversation. I think that would create a great attacking line-up for the champions.
It seems some have written off Harry Wilson as not good enough for Liverpool but I think he is worth a season to see what he can do in a Klopp team. In the current market, I’m not sure he would attract the sort of transfer fee Liverpool would want, so why not give him a chance? He clearly has ability and comes across as a good character, it would be a shame to sell him without first giving him a decent opportunity.
The other question to ask is: if FSG are such good businessmen, why are they always skint