What Should Liverpool’s Transfer Plans Be This Summer?

I was waiting for the announcement of Rafael Benitez as Everton manager before writing this week’s article, determined to make the point that, as far as I’m concerned, the Spaniard has earned the right to do what he wants with his career. That particular conversation has appeared to have gone a bit cold over the past couple of days, perhaps because of the anger from Evertonians about signing a manager that actually has the ability to win something. Instead, therefore, I thought I’d have a think about Liverpool’s transfer strategy this summer and what it should actually be. The signing of Ibrahima Konaté has already been completed, of course, so there has been at least some movement from the Reds in the market. That hasn’t stopped plenty of the Twitter weirdos from wetting themselves, believing every bad word written by a journalist on the local patch, as though they’ve never been proven wrong before.

Liverpool, you’ll remember, had withdrawn all interest in Virgil van Dijk, just before signing the talented Dutchman. They were happy with Loris Karius in goal and were going to give Danny Ward a go, right up until the moment that the club signed Alisson Becker. Then there’s the fact that the likes of James Pearce spent the entirety of last summer saying that we had no interest in signing Thiago Alcantara. That’s not to accuse the local journalists of lying; far from it in fact. The journalists can only report what they’re being told by the club, but the club isn’t likely to announce that it is determined to sign A, B and C players, fully aware of the fact that this would lead to the selling club hiking up their prices. I’m not a football scout, so I’m not going to speak with detail about specific players here. Instead, I’m just interested in pondering the current state of the squad and the areas that are most in need of strengthening. What will Michael Edwards be plotting this summer?

Both Midfield & Defence Need Strengthening

Jürgen Klopp is a man with much more faith than me. That can be demonstrated quite literally in the fact that he’s a devout Christian and I’m an atheist, but I’m talking about the faith that he’s got in his players. The German gives players heaps of time to prove themselves, sometimes hanging on to them far longer than he should do. The fact that Divock Origi is, at the time of writing, still at the club is proof of that. In place of Origi you could talk about Xherdan Shaqiri, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Naby Keita; players that either aren’t quite good enough or else are so injury prone that their place in the squad is a waste of a shirt. Yet it seems as though Klopp plans to persist with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita in the midfield, perhaps not signing another player for the position as a result. The absence of Gini Wijnaldum from the match day squad will be keenly felt, partly because of his ability and partly because of how often he was available for selection.

Away from the midfield, I’d still be looking for an extra man in defence and wouldn’t be disappointed if a deal can be struck for Ozan Kabak. I thought the defender impressed during his loan spell and we know that Schalke desperately need to sell him. An asking price of £18 million reportedly put the Reds off, but a lack of game time from Turkey as they were eliminated from the Euros means that that price might well drop. If he can be brought in for a reduced price then we would have plenty of choices at the back in the wake of season when we had virtually none. It looks as though Nat Phillips will be heading off elsewhere, which would leave us one emergency defender short. On top of that, the latest rumours suggest that Neco Williams would like to leave for some game time, so someone that can play at right-back would be needed as cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold. If that’s going to be Joe Gomez, then an extra central defender is a must.

Might An Attacker Be On The List?

What might Michael Edwards and Jürgen Klopp be thinking about our options up front? The return of Harvey Elliott from his decent loan spell at Blackburn Rovers will intrigue most Reds, but will he have done enough in the Championship to convince the German and his transfer guru that he can play deputy to Mohamed Salah? The Egyptian King rarely misses matches, but if he were out for a good chunk of time, would Elliott be able to offer anything close to what he does? Sadio Mané struggled without a crowd behind him, whilst Roberto Firmino was similar. They both have the ability to be brilliant when they’re on it, but the manager will surely be fearing another season of below par performances. Diogo Jota has proven himself to be an inspired signing, but are four first-teamers and one youth prospect enough for a long campaign fighting on multiple fronts? Personally, I’d like to see us bring in one more lad who knows where the back of the net is.

Despite our generally poor season, we created chances in virtually every match we played. What we lacked was someone killer in front of goal, finishing off the opportunities created by teammates. Whilst I’m of the opinion that Harry Kane is on a downward trajectory now, he’s got the ability to score goals and someone with that ability but with a degree more fitness and reliability would appeal to me very much. Of course, it’s not like such a player wouldn’t appeal to every club in the world and we’re just one of many on the lookout. That being said, other clubs don’t have Edwards in their armoury and I’d trust him to find a gem if the club isn’t keen on a mainstream option. I’m sure that everyone involved in transfers at Liverpool Football Club will be watching the development of Manchester United’s attempts to sign Jadon Sancho with interest, even if Gareth Southgate doesn’t think he’s good enough to play in some European Championship matches. The conclusion of the tournament will likely be when moves start to be made.

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