There are now less than two weeks to go until the transfer window ‘slams shut’ and the chance to improve the squad through purchases is taken away from Jürgen Klopp. The big question is, of course, does he want to take advantage of the window being open while he can?
The answer, to be honest, appears to be ‘no’. But this is a transfer rumour and gossip piece, not a factually accurate look at the likelihood of any given signing taking place. This is also the piece that that I use to have a look at any big stories from the preceding week, so if you’re only here for the transfer gossip then feel free to scroll down to the bottom…
Left Back At Home
Poor Alberto Moreno. The dimwitted Spaniard has received such a kicking in the aftermath of his performance at The Emirates that the Liverpool Echo ran a poll to ask whether it classified as bullying. Of course the poll ran at the same time as articles slagging him off, so we can’t be too heavy in our praise of the Echo’s thoughtfulness…
I spoke about Moreno in my match review on Monday, so I won’t go too hot and heavy on him here. I do think some perspective needs to put in place regarding his performance, though. You’d think from the way that commentators, supporters and members of the press are going on that the Spaniard had run around the pitch on Sunday setting fire to people and beheading children.
Instead what actually happened was that he had a slightly patchy ten minute spell or so.
If we reacted this way every time a Liverpool defender had a slightly patchy period of a game then nobody would ever get any work done. We’d all be too busy writing opinion pieces and tweeting abuse about said player to be able to focus on anything else.
Liverpool’s defence actually didn’t do too badly on Sunday. I know that’s an odd thing to say considering we conceded three goals, but it’s true. Arsenal were actually restricted in their attacking opportunities and apart from the penalty save and picking the ball out of his net on several occasions, Simon Mignolet didn’t actually have all that much to do. No mean feat when you’re up against Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and friends.
Yet at the same time Liverpool’s defence leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to working as a unit. Whatever you may think about Moreno it’s fairly clear that he’s operating under instruction from his manager. Speaking of which, it’s odd how many people think Klopp is the savour of Liverpool and a football genius yet also think he hasn’t spotted that Moreno moves out of position on a pretty regular basis.
Reports from journalists who watched the Reds training in America suggested that Klopp would stop sessions if the left or right back didn’t bomb on in exactly the way that Moreno did on Sunday. He’d have a go at them and make clear that he wants to see them moving forward in support of the attack at every given opportunity, so it’s not really a surprise that the Spaniard did exactly that against the Gunners.
Perhaps he should be waiting to make sure we’ve actually got decent possession of the ball first, though why no-one is criticising Adam Lallana for chucking in yet another completely pointless Cruyff Turn I’m not sure. You’ve also got to ask questions about Philippe Coutinho’s complete lack of help for Moreno on the left hand side. The lad’s a genius, but he rarely if ever doesn’t anything to actually help Moreno out.
Defending As A Unit
Moving away from Moreno specifically, then, it’s definitely fair to look at Liverpool’s defending from the point of view of the team as a whole. Many people believe that Klopp has made a mistake not bringing in a defensive midfielder, but it’s unlikely that the German ever intended to. He hasn’t really operated with a specialised player in that position in the past, after all.
Instead, Klopp tends to favour the team working as one to protect the defence. Strikers aren’t allowed to just meander about the place and wait for an opportunity to come their way. Instead they have to be constantly closing, pressing and harassing the opposition. Roberto Firmino is often favoured as the furthest forward player in a Klopp team precisely because he’s able to do just that.
None of Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum nor Lallana are defensive midfielders by nature. What they do have, however, are terrific engines that allow them to get up and down the pitch all day long. There’s a reason that so many people suggested Jordan Henderson is an ‘ideal Klopp player’ and that’s because he runs and runs and runs and runs and runs.
All four of those players can get forward to support an attack one minute and then recover to help out the defence the next. It’s why the manager doesn’t mind Moreno bursting forward as he did against the Gunners, because he expects other members of the team to get back and help him out should he be caught out of position.
Whether you like it or not Alberto Moreno is someone that Klopp likes and he will be in the team a fair amount moving forward. We may have to watch him learn on the job a fair bit, but if Klopp works his magic and trains his deficiencies out of him then we could have one hell of a player on our hands and it will have been worth some short-term pain for the long-term gain.
One Down, 37 To Go
I’m absolutely convinced that Liverpool are going to win the Premier League title this season. You can call me deranged if you wish. Feel free to join the bandwagon full of Mancs and Evertonian supporters who mock us for always saying ‘this is our year’ if you must. But we’re one game down on our search for the holy and elusive grail.
I’m far less worried about the games against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs as I am the games against teams like Burnley. We could lose once to each of the traditional ‘top four’ plus the newly rich clubs and we’d still only drop twelve points. Draw the home games and we’ve dropped twenty in total. Beat the dross, however, and we could still pick up a theoretical 94 points.
For as long as I’ve been an adult watching Liverpool Football Club we’ve never struggled to get up for the big games. The problems have always arisen when we’ve needed to up our game against teams that the players feel they ‘should’ beat just by virtue of being Liverpool. I’m intrigued to see how well we play against Burnley this weekend. A team that struggled against Swansea, will defend deep and we *should* beat. Now let’s go and get three more points.
The Runners And Riders Of The Rumour Mill
Klopp loves his training. I think there’s an extent to which he sees Moreno as a project to amuse him whilst he’s also working on taking us to the title. That means that any further ‘ins’ are looking increasingly unlikely, whilst there will definitely still be a couple more outs to speak of. Here’s a look a the rumours that the press are going with, irrelevant of their validity.
Christian BentekeIt feels like I’ve written about Benteke pretty much every single week of the summer. At last the good news is here: He’s on his way out of the club. It would be grossly unfair to call Benteke a ‘flop’ at Liverpool. He scored ten goals in all competitions at the club, despite being massively under-used towards the end of his time here. He was just the wrong type of player for the club and he was obviously always going to struggle to fit in.
AP on Benteke: “He’ll have his medical today but personal terms have to be done. We’ve agreed everything with Liverpool.”
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) August 19, 2016
Alan Pardew might well have branded Benteke a cheat and decided that he was a scourge on the modern game when he was tackled in the box by a Palace player late on last season, but he’s realised that he’s actually a very good player who will add a huge amount to his Palace side. That’s why he’s willing to pay £27 million plus add-ons for the Big Belgian’s services. He’ll do well at Selhurst Park and I wish him luck.
We’re not going to be buying anyone else. Let’s just accept that and we’ll all be happier for it. Obviously the £27 million given to us by Everton via Crystal Palace for Christian Benteke has to go somewhere, though, and the Liverpool supporters who refuse to believe that FSG will just keep the money are scrabbling around for signs of who we might bring in to bolster our ranks. Here are this week’s rumours:
Bruno Martins Indi
When I first heard this I thought Liverpool had been linked with a bid for Bruno Mars, but no such luck. He could have really added something to the Kop’s song-writing, too. Oh well. Instead we will have to settle for the 24-year-old Porto centre-back, if the Mirror are to be believed. They reckon that Klopp wants to bolster his defensive options and that the fact that the Dutch international can, surprise surprise, play at left-back will be appealing to the German. In other news, anybody who has ever played left-back in the history of their lives is likely to be linked with a move in the coming week or so…
If the link with Bruno Martins Indi isn’t exciting enough for you then how do you feel about the Reds bringing in a player from one-time enemy Nottingham Forest? Oliver Burke is a talented young winger who has apparently caught the interest of Liverpool and Arsenal. One day the Reds will be linked with a player who isn’t also linked with the Gunners, but today is not that day. The 19-year-old made eighteen appearances for Forest last season, scoring two goals. Given that Crystal Palace are also looking at him as a potential replacement for Yannick Bolasie, it’s likely that Liverpool’s name has been mentioned to drive up the kid’s price tag, to be honest.
Anwar El Ghazi
The injury scare to Sadio Mané in the week might have made Liverpool realise that the Senegalese international is the only real winger we’ve got on our books. At the very least it appears to have drawn the press’ attention to that fact. Perhaps that’s why we’re being linked with wide men this week. The second winger we’re rumoured to be looking at is Ajax’s 21-year-old star Anwar El Ghazi.
We were linked with the Dutch international in June but those links died away when Mané came in from Southampton. This time we’re apparently ready to go head-to-head with Lazio over his signature and could well get him for about £16 million. The Serie A side are unwilling to go over £11 million, so it’s likely that Liverpool’s name is once again being used as a bargaining chip by the selling club, rather than us having any actual interest in him.
For one final time, then: Until next week…