It’s amazing the difference just a few days can make in the often-bizarre world of football.
And Liverpool fans are experiencing this high now, with the 6-0 battering of Aston Villa and the announcement that Joel Matip will be signing for the club on a free transfer this summer having drastically altered the mood following dropped points against Leicester and Sunderland followed by FA Cup elimination at the hands of West Ham.
With Jurgen Klopp’s debut season, although not over, in danger of limping towards its ‘climax’ with the League Cup and Europa League looking like the only saviours, attention among Kopites is already being focused on 2016/17 and what’s possible during their charismatic coach’s first FULL term.
Naturally, the ex-Dortmund boss is expected to make quite a few major additions as he looks to re-shape the squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers, but rather than rip it all up, perhaps he only needs to focus on one or two (perhaps three) key additions, and these FIVE fringe, injured and out on loan players already available to Klopp prove it…
Pssssst, Mario Balotelli is not included!
We should remember that Markovic is a £20m player and has long been rated as one of the best youngster in Europe. It’s little wonder he failed to find his feet in what was a turbulent debut season under Brendan Rodgers – who often shifted him to wing-back as he searched for a formation to paper over the cracks at Anfield – but some encouraging performances with Fenerbahce suggest that he’s regaining confidence.
Reports have already claimed that Klopp has been suitably impressed by the 21-year-old, who is now in line for a Merseyside recall when his loan deal ends, and it’s easy to see why the German coach wants him back.
Although a little lightweight in his approach, Markovic offers pace and direct running from wide, which is a set of traits only really on offer from the extremely hot and cold Jordon Ibe right now. The Serbia international is also able to function as a ‘no.10’, which may, going forward, be his best position, judging by his impressive performance in the 3-2 home win over Spurs last term.
Although many Liverpool fans raged when Grujic was sent back to Red Star Belgrade on loan for the remainder of the season in January upon signing for the Reds, the youngster should benefit from a few months more of regular playing time and mental preparation ahead of a big move.
Already likened to Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Matic, the 19-year-old is certainly under some pressure, but his reputation comes for a reason, with the teenager having been the driving force behind his side’s 25-point buffer at the top of the Serbian SuperLiga after just 22 games with his all-action displays and ability to break forward key.
Grujic himself seems suited to a Klopp style of play, and having him around as back-up to Emre Can will surely be useful for the 48-year-old, who has already witnessed just how hectic fixture lists in England can get… especially during the winter months.
That experiment at Exeter City in the FA Cup didn’t yield too much for Klopp, but it showed him that Stewart is a player he can definitely use going forward.
At 22, the former Spurs trainee is really at a crossroads in his career, but continued use in competition which brought about his debut and a Premier League bow in the 6-0 drubbing of West Ham illustrates that, unlike a few to have been thrown into that heavily rotated team, he has something his manager appreciates.
Stewart himself doesn’t seem to have any real standout attributes, but his calm passing from a deep midfield position, his tenacity and his discipline mean that he really is a viable option to have in the squad. Perhaps he could be Klopp’s Francis Coquelin…
After a horrendous 18 months of injury problems, ‘Flanno’ has recently been welcomed back into Klopp’s ranks, and seems to be recovering well.
The no-nonsense full-back was an unlikely hero in the 2013/14 season that so nearly yielded the Premier League title the club crave, with his work ethic and sheer force of will making him an, albeit less fancy, option on either the left or right side of the backline.
With Klopp having left him out of his Europa League squad for the last 32 of the tournament it suggests that the German is looking to ease him back into regular football, so all being well he could be fully fit heading towards 2016/17.
Flanagan seems to be a more defensively sound option than the entertaining, if slightly brainless, Alberto Moreno, which is sure to be of use when taking on teams with quality from wide – which was ruthlessly exposed in the 2-0 loss at Leicester earlier this month.
Ings is yet to make an appearance under Klopp. A serious knee injury (the dreaded ACL) shortly after the German’s arrival has since kept the 23-year-old out of action, and it’s unlikely he’ll be seen to a great extent again before the close of his debut season.
Two goals in his last four games – at home to Norwich and away at Everton – showed that he was settling in after a tricky opening couple of months at Anfield, and his industry and willing running seem suited to Klopp’s style.
The German has often talked about movement when discussing Christian Benteke’s woes, and with Divock Origi seemingly ahead of the £32.5m man, Ings can feel confident, too.
The Englishman – whom Liverpool are yet to pay a compensation fee to Burnley for following his Bosman summer move –is a willing runner, with his desire to work the channels often praised due to the space it opens up. Daniel Sturridge, Origi and Ings plus one more (who knows if that could be Benteke) could be enough for Jurgen next season.