Now Jurgen Klopp’s feet are under the table in his new Melwood office, reports have already turned to whom the German will sign in January. Naturally with his appeal in the game on a global scale some big names have been mooted, but surely the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan are bit a too farfetched for Liverpool right now?
After all, the Reds have not been Champions League regulars since the mid 2000s, and since then top quality stars have left Anfield on an annual basis. Even the most ardent of Kopiotes would find it hard to argue that their club can now lure in talent from the very biggest clubs around.
So, perhaps Klopp should be looking at some more realistic targets. Realistic does not mean sub-standard, as Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge were in such a bracket in 2012 and both have flourished on Merseyside. With that in mind, here are FIVE potential additions for the club to consider ahead of January…
By the time January rolls around there’s every chance that Klopp will be as sick of Simon Mignolet as many Liverpool fans already are. The Belgian is a strange one, his shot-stopping is excellent and he can be a commanding influence – he was outstanding at the back end of last season – but he seems to prone to sinking into his shell and is showing worrying signs of falling back into the sort of form that saw him dropped in favour of Brad Jones last Christmas – to put that into perspective the Australian is now at Bradford City.
It stands to reason that there’s already links between Liverpool’s new German manager and one of the Bundesliga’s top goalies: Leno. The 23-year-old is Bayer Leverkusen’s main man between the sticks and kept an impressive 16 clean sheets in league action last term – a figure beaten only by Ballon d’Or finalist Manuel Neuer.
As the stats show, Leno out-performed Mignolet in a number of key areas last season, with his 1.92 saves-per-goal score particularly impressive.
An immediate concern for Klopp is his Liverpool rearguard. A constant source of concern under Rodgers’ reign, the Reds have shipped 10 goals in their last six Premier League outings, including three at home to West Ham, while League Two minnows Carlisle scored at Anfield to take their Capital One Cup match all the way to penalty kicks.
While Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho are not bad centre-backs, Klopp is likely to want one of his own, and Serbian Subotic is a player the 48-year-old is known to trust. The Dortmund man followed Klopp from Mainz to the Westfalenstadion, and played a key role as BVB rose to the very top of the Bundesliga while reaching the Champions League Final.
So far this season Subotic has managed only 90 minutes of league football, so there’s a chance Dortmund will consider offers in January.
Porto’s conveyor belt of talent is no secret nowadays, with the Portuguese giants known for their ability to both nurture home-grown talent and get the best from South American imports. Little wonder then that some of the continent’s big-hitters look to the Estadio do Dragao for signings on an annual basis, and Liverpool appear to be following suit with Neves a reported target.
Even though he’s just 18, the deep-lying midfielder is already a regular in Porto’s first-team, where he’s won plaudits for his composed passing, energy and combative nature… well suited to Klopp’s ‘gugenpressing’ system, it would seem. There’s talk of a £29m release clause in his contract, but the Reds would surely be able to get him in for below that sum given that he’s still a fledgling talent, and he may be happy to rotate in and out of the team with Emre Can, James Milner and Jordan Henderson.
With links surfacing regarding forwards, it seems that Klopp is not entirely convinced by the crop left to him from Rodgers’ reign. His former charge Lewandowski may be a little too high profile to lure to Anfield right now, but another of his Dortmund crop in the shape of Aubameyang could prove more ‘gettable’. While the Polish sensation, who has been averaging around a goal every 30 minutes of play over the course of the past few weeks, may be grabbing the Bundesliga headlines, the ‘African Neymar’ has also been performing well with 10 strikes in eight matches.
Although BVB may have a better shot at Champions League qualification given their form and the nature of the German top tier, it’s entirely feasible that the lure of extra cash and the pull of the Premier League could be enough to tempt the 26-year-old.
Klopp favours pace and direct running in his wide attacking options, which may be a slight issue for him at Anfield. While Jordon Ibe is a bundle of energy, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino like to drift inside and Adam Lallana, although technically gifted, is not an explosive player.
Volland is sure to be an option the new Anfield chief knows all about from his Bundesliga days, with the attacker, behind now Kop star Firmino, a key man in Hoffenheim’s decent form. The 23-year-old is already a Germany international and while not lightening fast across the turf he known for his desire to take on his man and drive towards the box given that he started his career as a striker. His link-up play with his ex Hoffenheim team-mate could also be intriguing to Klopp.