Liverpool Squad Analysis: The Middle Men

I’m loathed to give the FSGOUT weirdos any attention, given the fact that I normally stick to the adage of not arguing with drunks or idiots. Yet, as Liverpool have already signed both Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai for a combined total of around €110 million, their moaning suddenly sounds a little stupid. There are many that claim that we are a sell-to-buy club under Fenway Sports Group, but the evidence doesn’t quite stack up to support that claim. The last time that we sold players for actual money was 12 months ago, which was when Sadio Mané, Neco Williams, Takumi Minamino, Marko Grujic and Ben Davies left for around €79 million, to continue the same currency for the purposes of consistency. That wouldn’t have been enough to cover the €80 million we spent on Darwin Núñez, let alone the addition of the €42 million spent on Cody Gakpo or the nearly €11 million on Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsey. We should be spending more, but we’re not sell-to-buy.

Instead, we’re a well-run football club that doesn’t stretch beyond our financial means. Given the state of the world in recent times, from Covid through to the global recession, I’m perfect happy with us being well-run on the proviso that we can still compete. There are many that would choose to throw the baby out with the bathwater on the basis of last season, when it was very evident that we did not manage to compete. Yet the truth is that that was a blip in what has otherwise been a sustained period of success for the Reds under the American owners, when we could easily have won another three league titles and two Champions Leagues if luck, rather than money, had been on our side and we hadn’t been competing domestically with a financial doped team facing 115 charges of wrongdoing. It is about buying the right players, not just any old players, and doing so for the correct fees to allow our budget to stretch, not spending whatever the selling club is asking for.

New Signings Will Bolster The Middle Of The Park

There is barely a Liverpool fan around that doesn’t know that the midfield is where we’ve most needed to strengthen. I wrote last week about how the defence is in worse shape than many people realise, but the midfield’s lack of legs has continued to be where most of the problems lay. The arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai will unquestionably help us on that front. The former Brighton man has consistently been described as a Swiss Army knife of a player, able to do a wealth of different roles to a high standard. With that in mind, it will be good to have him in the ranks and able to fill in any deficiencies that we have at any given moment. His energy, pressing and desire to compete will help to alleviate the pressure on the likes of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho Tavares to perform, all whilst offering a threat of his own in terms of goals and assists that will come in handy. It is an area we’ve struggled from midfield in the past, so is a welcome change.

For his part, Szoboszlai is meant to be much more attack-minded. His ideal position, it is said, is in the ‘10’ role, whilst there is a suggestion that he might be able to fill in for Mo Salah if the manager chooses to give the Egyptian a rest at any point. It is worth remembering that Salah himself remains classed as a midfielder by the Premier League’s Fantasy Football game, though we all think of him as an attacker. In other words, the manager could yet decide to re-invent Szoboszlai to mean that he isn’t a midfield option any more, but for the moment we’re still going to consider him as much. If he could fill in for Salah, the likelihood is that he’ll be playing the position that Jordan Henderson was occupying towards the end of last season, which is also the one that Harvey Elliott had come to make his own before that. My guess would be that Jürgen Klopp is hoping that he’ll be able to play the position with a little bit more attacking intent and an eye for goal, which will help.

It Should Lighten The Load For The Others

With news emerging that Thiago Alcantara had removed any reference to Liverpool from his Instagram bio, some felt that the Spaniard might well be leaving the club this summer. Whilst I’m unsure that will be the case, his injury record means that I wouldn’t be heartbroken if it happened. There is no questioning the fact that he is a brilliant player, but it doesn’t matter how good you are if you spend most of your time on the treatment table. Jordan Henderson is getting older and is significantly better when he’s got fewer minutes in his legs, whilst the just is still very much out on Fabinho in terms of what he’s going to be able to offer. Elliott is perfectly fine in the right-wing position, but ‘perfectly fine’ isn’t really good enough when you’re looking to challenge for the title. Curtis Jones very much added his name to the list of midfielders who were impressing as the season came to a close, so the hope will be there that he is able to cement his place in the starting lineup moving forward.

Stefan Bajčetić was another player who caught the eye during the last campaign, but his young age means it will be good for the Reds if we can keep him out of the spotlight as much as possible. With all of that in mind, I would very much prefer another addition in order to feel as though we’re stocked well enough to cope with whatever the season may throw at us. The fact that we’ll be playing Europa League football means that there will be plenty of chances for the likes of Elliott and Bajčetić to get game time without us needing to put our league or cup ambitions at risk. Bringing in another decent option in the middle will allow us to focus on improving our defensive solidity, which was found wanting far too often last time out. As things currently stand, I’d suggest that our transfer dealings stand at a seven out of ten, but I’d like to bring in the likes of Khephren Thuram now that his Under-21s tournament is over in order to push that closer to ten out of ten.

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