It’s now no secret. Brendan Rodgers’ successor looks nailed-on to be Jurgen Klopp, with reports from BBC Sport (perhaps the most authoritative source going) claiming that the German is close to being officially appointed.
Upon his imminent arrival, the charismatic 48-year-old will find that he’s inherited a squad full of depth and quality, but to adopt his famous ‘gegenpressing’ method – high-tempo closing down as far up the pitch as possible to create quick transitions and attacking overloads – he’s sure to need a few new bodies come January, while a few underlying issues from Rodgers’ reign need addressing.
With that in mind, here are FIVE potential 2016 additions that may help to turn Liverpool into Klopp’s latest, all-action machine…
The rugged Serbian is known to be a ‘Klopp favourite’. The German boss took him from Mainz to Dortmund with him back in 2008, and the now 26-year-old’s performances alongside Mats Hummels have been vital in BVB’s successes. Early reports linking Subotic with Liverpool may be a case of 2+2, but sometimes 2+2=4, and a move for the defender makes sense.
It’s clear that Klopp will have to do something about a Liverpool defence that’s conceded 10 goals in its last five games and has been shaky for some time. With a decent level of pace and good reading of the game, Subotic is the ideal ‘limited defender’ in a ‘gegenpressing’ system, as has been shown through the years, and a partnership with the quicker, ball-playing Mamadou Sakho could be effective.
The dream for Liverpool fans. As soon as Klopp was linked chatter of ‘will he bring Reus?’ has been bubbling away among Reds, and even though a move would be ambitious to say the least, if any manager can convince the Germany international to head to Anfield, it’s Klopp.
Should Philippe Coutinho leave for Barcelona – reports suggest that he wants to – the funds and space for a marquee man would be there, and with Reus well versed in Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ method, he would certainly be an excellent fit. One issue could be that at 26, 2016 presents the attacker’s big chance for the biggest move of his career, and Champions League football, as well as a large salary, is likely to be a must.
Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ method is very demanding. The German coach likes his midfield to be compact and has, throughout his successful era, opted for a base of a destroyer and a box-to-box player to anchor the engine room. Jordan Henderson is well-suited to the latter role, but in Lucas Klopp may find that he doesn’t have a player with the mobility needed to snuff out the opposition.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender – brother of Dortmund’s Sven – is widely considered to be one of the Bundesliga’s best destroyers, with his performances at the BayArena having earned him international recognition and transfer attention.
82 interceptions and 72 clearances last term illustrates his proficiency from the base of midfield, while his 6ft frame is suited to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.
Perhaps the biggest issue facing Klopp is what to do with Simon Mignolet. Although the Belgian ended last season as one of the Premier League’s form goalkeepers after a late surge was enough to secure a total of 13 clean sheets, his form was worrying to say the least early on, and has been causing panic already this season. Although an able shot-stopper, Mignolet doesn’t truly command his area, is relatively poor in terms of distributing the ball and, most importantly, doesn’t offer a confident bedrock behind the backline.
Klopp worked with the commanding and experienced Roman Weidenfeller throughout his Dortmund reign, so it makes sense that he may look for a goalie with similar attributes. One of the Bundesliga’s best from last term was Yann Sommer of Borussia Monchengladbach, and with the German side struggling this term, a January offer may be enough to lure him across to the Premier League.
Sommer was the joint most proficient ‘keeper in terms of claiming the ball in the BuLi last term with 114 to his name, was effective in terms of punches, made 88 saves in total and kept 15 clean sheets – only Manuel Neuer and Bernd Leno were beaten on fewer occasions.
A greater level of confidence at the back could be enough to help push the backline further up the pitch, thus squeezing the midfield to help with crowding out opposing players.
The Armenian is well known among Liverpool fans. The summer of 2013 saw the attacking midfielder openly pursued by the Reds before, ironically, Klopp’s Dortmund signed him, and there have been fresh links bubbling away between the ex-Shakhtar Donetsk player and Anfield of late.
Having worked with him, Klopp could surely coax the potential the Eastern European has, and the fact he knows what to expect from the manager in terms of tactics and work-ethic in an attacking sense bodes well. Mkhitaryan endured a below par 2014/15 campaign, but three goals and three assists in 650 minutes of Bundesliga action this season is pretty impressive