It is the transfer window and it is the time of speculation. The Anfield Talk’s Steve Taylor (@SteveTaylor71) has had his say on what he’d do if he was the manager…
The 2018/19 Squad
NOTE: The figures used were generated using transfermarkt.com and the CIES Football Observatory.
Winning the Champions League has for a lot of fans put the players and the manager on a pedestal and combined with the fact we only lost one league game, and ultimately that elusive premier league crown by a point leaves many saying that the squad doesn’t need many changes. As we all know though, football evolves and if clubs don’t progress then they soon get caught. Looking back over our phenominal season, it’s fair to say that we have been lucky with injuries especially across the front 3.
In addition, many fans have bemoaned our midfield options at times, especially during that run of draws early into 2019. Coupled with the impact Van Dijk and Allison have made, I would suggest defence is the area I would tinker with the least. And hope with all my heart that Van Dijk doesn’t pick up any serious injuries. Anyway, here’s what I would do if I was manager.
Allison has been amazing and exceeded everyone’s expectations, and already is a firm fan favourite. Behind him in the pecking order is where I would look to bolster the team. Mignolet is looking to move on in favour of first team football, and for his professionalism alone this season, he should be granted that. Bringing in £7m for Mignolet and offloading Bogdan would mean that Kelleher and Grabara could be brought up the pecking order. That said, an experienced no.2 is a must and essential bearing in mind the number of games Liverpool could face next year.
Alberto Moreno. The man that got steadily worse as his Liverpool career progressed. A real character, but a liability on a football pitch. Adios Albie, and already confirmed as being released on a free.
Next up, Nathaniel Clyne. His non-sensical loan move to Bournemouth when there was very limited backup showed that Clyne’s days are numbered and I agree. He is a sound and solid defender but lacks the attacking prowess demanded from our system. I would sell, and I am sure he could do a job for a decent premier league side.
I toyed with the idea of selling Matip too. But, alongside Van Dijk, he has gone from strength to strength and at 27 years old, it could be argued that he is about to enter his prime. If his injury problems are behind him, we could have a real challenger to Joe Gomez at the heart of the defence. Taking into account squad harmony, I would also keep Lovren. Even the manager wouldn’t have the heart to break up the bromance that him and Mo have together.
This is the area of the pitch that Klopp has rotated the most this year. At times, I think we have lacked quality there, but overall, I wouldn’t get rid of any of them. I thought long and hard about Adam Lallana, but I do think on his day, and when he is fit, that he has the talent to unlock defences and I would keep him in the squad again this season.
I would also keep Milner, albeit I do see his game time diminishing this season as he enters the twilight of his unbelievable career.
Sturridge has left on a free, and I think Origi has proved to be an able backup when called upon. Unless someone came in with a huge bid, I would keep the talented young Belgian for another season. No outgoings other than Sturridge.
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Ryan Kent and Harry Wilson have both sampled first team football and loved every minute. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are good enough for a side challenging for the Premier League and one of course one that is Champions of Europe. I would sell both and look to gather some extra transfer money. With Edwards negotiating skills, the two players could bring in some good money and prove that our academy is capable of bringing through quality players.
Marko Grujic is worth having a look at again in pre-season. After all, he is the king of pre-season normally. There is something about him that I like. He is big, strong, and has built up experience across top leagues. In my opinion, he is one to persevere with for now.
TOTAL – £68m
The Goalkeepers – £7m
Adrian and Reina have been linked. Adrian, at 32 would more than likely be looking for first team football, whereas the romantic option of a reunion with 36 year old Pepe Reina would be a popular choice. Vorm is also a free agent, having left Spurs.
However, I would go for a proven Premier League keeper who could take ownership of the gloves during a couple of our cup runs (i.e. Carabao and FA Cup) and one that isn’t entering the latter stages of his career. I would suggest Neil Etheridge from Cardiff, and hope he has the same impact as our last player signed from a relegated club, Andy Robbo.
The Defence – £0m
This is a position that will ultimately be a back-up for Andy Robertson and Trent, yet is arguably one of the most important for Liverpool bearing in mind the number of assists and creativity that comes from these positions.
Ryan Sessegnon is an obvious choice, but at £35m it would be a massive outlay for someone who would arguably be second choice. I also think Sessegnon failed to prove himself and I am still not sure what his best position is?
Klopp has also (until Van Dijk) rarely spent big on defenders and on this occasion, I would agree and I would promote Adam Lewis from the Academy. He is a scouse, has captained the u18’s, appeared in the u19 European Championships and has also represented England at u20 level.
There is also the De Ligt conundrum. At 19, he is being touted as one of the best centre backs in Europe, and it is hard to argue against it. However, if Joe Gomez had not picked up that injury against Burnley, I feel that he too would have been getting similar praise. Coupled with the form of Joel Matip, and the self-proclaimed best defender in the world Dejan Lovren, I really don’t think a bid for De Ligt makes sense.
The Midfield – £50m
Without doubt, an area that needs strengthening and the rumours and saga of Nabil Fekir still goes on. There is a reason the deal fell through and I doubt that reason has gone away. As such, I can’t see Liverpool going anywhere near this deal, even at the rumoured £15m price tag.
The other two players I like are Rabiot and Houssem Aouar. Rabiot is a free transfer, but two things worry me with him. He has had a massive fall out with Tuchel at PSG, and has had little or no football for months. In addition, if rumours are true, he is asking for huge wages and a sizeable signing on fee. Would he be signing for the right reasons, and would that attitude problem resurface if the midfield rotation Klopp does continue this year?
For that reason, I would go back to Lyon, but this time go for Aouar. At 20 years of age, he would be happy to work hard and learn the system like Fabinho and Keita did this year. His goals and attack minded play would give us a different dimension, and with Keita, him and of course the Ox returning, it would give us serious options. Remember of course, that this is the player that impressed against Man City, and Pep called him ‘incredible’.
The Forwards – £71m
Having been relatively lucky with injuries this season, another backup to the forward line is a must. For me, it’s Nicolas Pepe from Lille that fits the bill. It will probably take a £70 mill bid, but he can play across the front three albeit he is primarily a winger. His goal record is impressive and at 24, he is a great age. 6ft with lightening quick pace, and dribbling skills to match, he would be a great acquisition.
As well, as Pepe, I would promote another academy player and look to give Brewster a chance. His youth record looks amazing and he will certainly be given game time in pre-season and during early cup rounds.
TOTAL – £128m
The 2019/20 Squad
It would be a quiet window in comparison to last year, but the foundations are there. The squad is unbelievably strong, and they should only get better this age when you consider their ages.
If the signings I’ve outlined were to happen, the midfield options would grow, and it would be great to see some of the academy getting their chance to shine.
I think that these summer additions would add to the squad and should allow Liverpool to compete more than they did this year. Klopp effectively allowed us to field weakened sides in the domestic cups and I think with this transfer window, we could potentially prioritise the Premier League, Champions League and a domestic trophy too.