Every week I write a transfer rumours round-up piece, summing up the players that Liverpool have been linked with in the previous seven days. From left-backs to goalkeepers to names we’ve now become all too familiar with, the Reds are regularly rumoured to be looking to buy any number of players for a limited number of positions. If the club actually bought every player they were linked with we’d have a squad of ten thousand and we’d have gone out of business a long time ago. Thankfully the people behind the scenes are a lot more sensible than the weirdos who take to Twitter to tweet John Henry and Linda Pizzuti, telling them they should sign Mario Götze.
@John_W_Henry What are you doing? Do something, buy someone, bid for someone, get Can his contract!!. Built by Shanks Ruined by Yanks
— Josh LFC (@LFCJosh96) July 7, 2017
With all of this in mind, what would make this is a successful transfer window for Liverpool Football Club? For the haters, the answer is nothing short of a £500 million investment. For those with a more realistic outlook on life, the answer is perhaps a touch more nuanced. I thought I’d have a little look at the situation the club finds itself in and see if I can’t discover that more nuanced approach. There’s no question that this is a hugely important summer for the club and, in turn, the owners, but is it a binary question of success or failure? Is it simply a matter of spend a load of money or the summer will have been a waste of time? I’m not so sure, though I do think there are certain things that need to be done in order to come close to calling this a good transfer window…
Land A Major Target
Virgil van Dijk. Kylian Mbappé. Naby Keïta. There are any number of big named players that Liverpool have been linked with so far this summer. At one point it looked as though van Dijk was as good as a done deal, with the player confirming he’s chosen Anfield as his preferred destination. We all know what happened next, with Southampton unimpressed at Liverpool’s overtures and deciding to report the club to the Premier League. Thankfully we avoided any major repercussions as a result of that and I remain convinced that van Dijk will be lining up for us next season, but it was an opportunity for the club to bring in a major target early doors and set down a marker.
These Keita & Van Dijk stories are boring the hell out of me now. September 1st cannot come quick enough
— Ben Roxby (@roxbyb) July 7, 2017
Last week I wrote a piece about why some fans are unfairly down on FSG, with the owners having sanctioned numerous big money transfers since they took over from Hicks and Gillet in 2010. It’s certainly true, however, that we’ve also been linked with any number of big players over the past seven years, only to fail to win their signature on virtually every occasion. For some Liverpool fans that’s a deliberate ploy by John Henry et al, aiming to keep supporters onside by suggesting that we’re aiming for huge names but it’s the player that’s not interested in coming. That doesn’t really make much sense to me, though. One of the biggest criticisms aimed at the club is that we never sign our targets, so how would that be a way of keeping fans happy?Regardless, we’ve been linked with names like Mohamed Salah (the first time around), Alexis Sanchez and Willian only to see them sign for one of our Premier League rivals. In order to put themselves in a position where their ownership is finally looked upon favourably FSG could really do with us bringing in at least one of the players we’ve spent the past month or so chasing. Mohamed Salah is, I believe, going to be brilliant for us. I think he’s an excellent signing in his own right, but the threat he’ll pose alongside Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, with Philippé Coutinho in behind, makes him an exciting player I’ll enjoy watching next season. Alone, though, his transfer represents good business and nothing more.
— Liverpool Latest (@LiverpoolPG) July 7, 2017
And so the question that we all want answering is one of the only ones that matters: can Liverpool get another big signing over the line? Add Salah’s signature to the likes of Virgil van Dijk’s and Naby Keïta’s and we’re suddenly in business, looking strong and successful in the market. Even just one of those names lining up in Red come August would be exciting and a sign of the club trying to ensure it can maintain its position now that it’s made it back to the Champions League. If we don’t get any of them, however, then the criticism of both the club and the owners will be valid. That is especially true when you consider that we haven’t really been linked with any other noteworthy names in those positions, suggesting that we’ve put all of our eggs in those particular baskets. A perfectly good tactic if we pull it off, but edging on disastrous if we don’t.
Flesh Out The Squad
Right now, before a ball is kicked, we know that we will play at least 42 games next season. That’s 38 league games supplemented by an FA Cup game and another in the League Cup. There’s also the small matter of the Champions League qualifying games that we need to play, which could lead to an additional six matches should we make it to the group stages. Progress in any of the cup competitions and we could be talking about fifty plus games over the course of the campaign, which is a lot of matches to play with a small squad. One of the best ways of countering fatigue is to have a decent sized squad that the manager trusts. Our squad wasn’t actually that poor last season, it’s just that injuries ravaged it and Klopp didn’t like what he saw when he turned around to look at the likes of Alberto Moreno tossing a bottle up and down to see how it landed.
— Adam James (@adamjames2011) June 22, 2017
If Liverpool miss out on all of their top targets then it will unquestionably be seen as a poor summer by the supporters, but it might not be an outright disaster if the manager is able to bring in some players he’s willing to bring in to the team when our first-choice starting XI is looking depleted. Rumours of Andrew Robertson’s reported move to Anfield continue to do the rounds and it’s a potential signing that leaves numerous supporters feeling underwhelmed. It’s important to remember, though, that the Hull player is a left-back and in 2005 we won the Champions League with Djimi Traore playing there. If Klopp likes the look of him and feels that he’ll be a suitable back-up to James Milner then we really shouldn’t being so snobbish as fans about bringing him in.
Our return to the top-table of European football means that the manager has to have a set of quality players that he trusts will be able to get the job done. We need to ship out some of the deadwood like Mamadou Sakho and the aforementioned Moreno and replace then with better quality players. We shouldn’t be in the position that we were in last season where the bench was being supplemented by kids, no matter how good their futures look. Trent Alexander-Arnold may well become our first-choice right-back for many years to come, just as Ben Woodburn will be a great option to have in the frontline. Yet neither player are at a first-team standard yet and the manager should be calling on them to give them a chance to develop, not because he has no other choice. It’s about quality rather quantity, yes, but we also need to have enough players to compete. Do that and it will be a decent enough summer.
Make Jürgen Klopp Happy
In amongst all of this there is one thing that matters above all else – is Jürgen Klopp happy? When all is said and done it’s the manager, not the supporters, who has to pick the teams that take to the pitch throughout the season. If he’s left disappointed when the transfer window closes then there’s no question that the summer window will have been a poor one. Conversely, if the German is pleased with the business we’ve done then it really doesn’t matter what the critics on social media or in the pubs around Anfield have got to say. Klopp will be well aware of the number of games we’ve got to play next season and he’ll have an idea in his head of how many players he’d like to have in his squad in order to ensure we compete on as many levels as possible. Dave from Kirby might be desperate for the club to sign a first-choice left-back, but if the manager’s happy to keep playing James Milner there then it really couldn’t matter less what Dave thinks.
I aspire to be happy as Jurgen Klopp 😂 pic.twitter.com/4PJsZWJgQ1
— Daniel (@DanielMaranon) July 4, 2017
I’m not expecting Klopp to come out and slag the club off in the same way that José Mourinho seems to do with wild abandon, but I do think the manager knows how important this summer is for the club. He’s not the sort of person to settle for second best, which I think is actually a big part of the reason why we haven’t seen alternative names on our shopping list this summer. If he’s not happy with the players he’s got as his disposal at the end of August then I think we’ll know about it. You and I might want us to sign two attackers, three midfielders and a central defender, but if Klopp doesn’t then it’s going to be us who are disappointed and not him. Like it or not it may well be time for us to get on board with that way of thinking. More than anything else, FSG will be able to call this a successful summer if the manager, rather than the supporters, is happy when the new campaign gets underway.