Liverpool’s incredible rise under Jurgen Klopp in recent years came to a sudden halt this season as injuries and a severe drop-off in form allowed Manchester City to regain their Premier League crown with relative ease.
Their disappointing showing throughout 2020/21 has left many questions to be answered over the coming months, with several changes expected to be made by the Anfield outfit’s hierarchy.
One victim of Liverpool’s substandard campaign is set to be Xherdan Shaqiri after the Switzerland international made just five top-flight starts for the Reds.
Despite the enduring struggles of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Klopp was either unable to call upon Shaqiri’s services due to injury or through a lack of trust in the 29-year-old’s ability.
Many had high hopes when the former Bayern Munich man arrived on Merseyside back in 2018, but after a solid first season at Liverpool, the diminutive forward has struggled to make an impact with the 19-time English champions.
Shaqiri’s modest return of eight goals and nine assists in 63 appearances for Klopp’s side is way below the level expected of a forward turning out for a side aiming to scoop up football’s top honors and has unsurprisingly seen him linked with a move away this summer.
However, with money tight due to the financial impact of the ongoing pandemic and the centre-back, central midfield and striker positions expected to be prioritised by the Reds, they may have to make a bold decision as they search for Shaqiri’s successor in the upcoming transfer window.
Klopp has never been afraid to put his faith in Liverpool’s academy products since he arrived at the club, rewarding the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams with their first-team debuts during his tenure.
Another teenager talent who has benefitted from the enigmatic German manager’s faith is Harvey Elliott.
The youngster made nine appearances for Liverpool in 2019/20 before being sent out on loan to Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers for the recently concluded campaign.
Despite it being his first full season in senior football, Elliott shone throughout his 12-month spell at Ewood Park, bagging seven goals and providing 11 assists in 41 league appearances for Tony Mowbray’s men.
Ex-Rovers teammate Elliott Bennett once described the 18-year-old as a “special, special player” on Twitter after a dazzling display for the Lancashire outfit, and his magnificent performers have arguably done enough to prove he’s already got the ability to make the step up to the Premier League.
While Elliott may not be at the level required to start week in week out for Liverpool as Klopp aims to return them to the summit of English football, his integration into the first-team set-up will allow his parent club to focus their limited resources on other, higher priority positions, giving them a better chance of recapturing their Premier League title.
He could be the perfect replacement if the Reds choose to cash in on Shaqiri.