The Reds have had a good summer, with a good preseason and strong transfer dealings. Here’s why The Anfield Talk’s Ryan (@RC_120797) think fans should be optimistic…
The optimism among Liverpool fans is at an all time high with just over a week to go until the closing of this summer’s transfer window, Liverpool look ready to mount a serious challenge for Manchester City’s Premier league title. Fans of other clubs will tell us we are deluded for believing that Liverpool will be the team to beat this season, and will be atop the table at the end of May. However, I cannot recall in my lifetime Liverpool having this much success in every area during pre-season.
The additions of Fabinho, Naby Keita, Shaqiri and Alisson mean that Liverpool have at last got a squad capable of fighting for a full season in a hectic title race schedule and also addressed a problem area which has been so evident to fans for every season since Pepe Reina was no longer up to scratch. If the signing of Shaqiri is to be our last incoming transfer deal, the window will have been a success, but, one more addition in the shape of Pulisic or Fekir may take this window’s rating from a 9/10 to a 10/10. That being said, I don’t think a transfer window or a group of signings has inspired so much positivity from our fan base. Fabinho is the midfield monster that Liverpool have needed. A destroyer and in my opinion something that we are yet to see in a Jurgen Klopp team. An upgrade on Emre Can and someone who will stop us looking so bare when we are being counter attacked at pace and will not be afraid to commit a “good foul” every now and then. Those attributes may trick us into forgetting how good he can also be going forward. A very versatile midfielder who will be used mostly as a 6 but can also change to an 8, who also played Right Back from time to time at Monaco. Something I will be surprised to see under Klopp. Naby Keita was acquired by Liverpool last summer and joined us on 01/07. This is the signing I think we are all most excited about. A midfield maestro that also embodies a work ethic and an ability to win the ball back quickly as seen in the Bundesliga. Everything needed in a Jurgen Klopp midfield- in one player! The ability to carry the ball forward and an excellent passing range- the perfect player for our style of play and time will tell f he can come close to filling the void of the number 8 jersey left by Steven Gerrard. Alisson is the signing that will make us as supporters rest easy before the new season. Heading into the new season with so much attention surrounding the goalkeeping situation would have been wrong. Klopp was perhaps ready to back Karius and would have hoped his loyalty was rewarded. However a goal costing mistake against Tranmere Rovers and the questions over Karius as Liverpool’s number 1 intensified. This error along with others against Blackburn and Chester made Karius’ position heading into the new season untenable. The scrutiny surrounding him would have made everyone around him nervous and potentially making him Liverpool’s most obvious weakness, something that Klopp was keen to address. Alisson has now signed and the Liverpool goalkeeping conundrum now seems to be solved by Brazil’s number 1. The very fact that there now seems to be a general calmness in the fan base because we have signed Alisson tells us that, that in the very least puts us in a better position had we have gone into the season with Karius or even Danny Ward in goal. The most recent and potentially last incoming of the summer was a £13 million deal for relegated Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri. The cost of this transfer made it a no-brainer for Klopp. To spend so little money on a player in this money-crazed and overhyped transfer market that will, at the very least, improve the squad as a whole and be an excellent option from the bench was an easy decision for Liverpool. Also, the record Klopp has with signing players from relegated sides and turning them into First team quality players should be noted i.e Gini Wijnaldum and Andy Robertson nailing down first team places and you would have to say both have had great starts to their Liverpool careers respectively.
Next is the pre-season friendly performances. It has taken our new signings no time at all to adapt to our playing style. A full pre-season for Naby Keita and Fabinho I think will prove key to us having a good start to the season and perhaps even gaining an early advantage over the rest of the top six. For example Spurs had 9 players involved in the semi-finals of the World Cup. This can only have a negative effect on the start of their Premier league campaign. Shaqiri has been publicly praised by Klopp for so quickly adapting to a new way of playing and thinking. His second half performance against Manchester United was a joy to watch. His effectiveness in the final third and dropping into pockets of space between the lines was evident. Also the addition of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane to the season’s preparations and how sharp they looked in their first match back from holiday in the second half against City was very encouraging. To have both fully fit and firing at the start of the season will simply blow teams away. The bedding in of new signings and the return of last season’s stars along with the growth of some of our youth prospects such as Curtis Jones and Rafa Camacho has made these pre-season games seem more relevant than they have seasons gone by, and while not getting too carried away has allowed us to believe that so far our pre-season campaign has been a successful one.
Lastly and perhaps the most important success stories of the summer for the club. The contract negotiations with the front three. Roberto Firmino led the way by signing a five year deal with no release clause. Mo Salah followed suit and quashed any potential rumours about him leaving the club this summer. This was key considering the sale of Ronaldo from Madrid to Juventus, as Madrid now look to be in the market for their next Galactico, and by signing the contract Salah has made it clear that it won’t be him. Now it’s Sadio Mane’s turn to sign that five year deal wih no release clause. If we are to believe reports, these negotiations should be a formality as Mane will sign his deal before the start of the new season. Tying these three players down to new contracts is the most important success of our summer. It shows that Liverpool mean business and will have these players for the prime of their careers. Liverpool is now a final destination rather than the stepping stone it once was. We only have to think back to the most promising seasons in recent history, 2013-14 Liverpool nearly win the league but then sell Suarez in the summer after that season; 2008-09 Liverpool push United close in the title race and instead of kicking on sell Xabi Alonso in the summer that followed. Following last season’s exploits in the Champions League it was very important to keep our key players while improving other areas of the squad. Presenting Liverpool as a final destination is also key to attracting other world class talent, and Klopp is key to this and he would have been undermined by the sale of one of our front three only months after the club reached a Champions League final.
Liverpool is pulling in the right direction this summer. It fills all of us with hope and excitement for the season ahead and it should. The signings we have brought in have addressed problem areas in our squad and added depth where necessary. Our pre-season has at youth to grow alongside new signings who have settled in comfortably. Tying down three of our most important players will also let us build on last season’s efforts and make a real push for silverware this season. Because of these reasons I believe Liverpool fans are right to be optimistic as we look set to have a proper tilt at the title. What a time it is to be a Liverpool fan. YNWA